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2009 Blog Posts


Something We Don't Know

30th December 2009 : My favorite maki (Podocarpus macrophyllus) is on the road from Sabi (where Keiko's family live) to Tondabayashi. Its shape and style are interesting, but its surroundings are what I like about it- it seems like there's something we don't know, like the tree is destined for some higher purpose… Read More


Heavy Snow in Omaha, Nebraska

28th December 2009 : We've had a bit of a disaster, with exceptionally heavy snow falling on Omaha on Christmas Day and destroying the roof of the section of warehouse that our Tripod Ladders are stored in. Luckily no one was hurt, but our entire stock was destroyed and unfortunately until further notice we have no… Read More

tripod ladders

Christmas Tree

25th December 2009 : HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! Here's an amazing black pine with just about the most impressive lower branch of any tree I've ever seen - all the stuff at the front seems to stem from one branch. Photo from Keith in Vancouver- thanks Keith. Always keen to see more pics like this, if anyone has any… Read More

japanese black pine

Osaka Castle

21st December 2009 : At the very end of October we met up with some of Keiko's friends, and had a picnic at Osaka Castle. I'd heard about its pine trees, but think we approached it from the wrong direction, because the ones we saw were pretty good, but not spectacular. We walked down a double avenue of these black… Read More

osaka castle

Niwaki Ambassador: Joseph Hillenmyer Associates

20th December 2009 : Hey Jo, where you going with those shears in your hand? Joseph Hillenmeyer is a busy man - landscape design, construction & maintenance in Lexington KY, a nursery, and wonderful blog. His websites speaks for itself, and luckily he seems to like our tools, saying our Niwaki Tripod Ladder is the… Read More



9th December 2009 : Korakuen in Okayama is one of the BIG THREE gardens in Japan, along with Kenrokuen and Kairakuen. I'd been through Okayama several times, but never stopped. This time we went on a day trip specifically to see the garden. Lots of pines, all recently pruned, lovely warm sunny afternoon. Read More



2nd December 2009 : Driving around near Tondabayashi last month I came across these pines being rootballed. Check out the crane in the background. In the second picture you can see the strop holding the tree in position. The black metal wrench thing they are using is to whack the rootball to get it as compacted as… Read More


Visit to Isui-en, Nara

24th November 2009 : We had a little family outing to Nara on our recent trip to Japan, to see Isui-en garden. My brother-in-law Shigenori picked up a parking ticket. The garden is well known for its shakkei (borrowed scenery) of the hills and the roof in the background. Read More


Niwaki Ambassador: Ian Kendrick Ltd

22nd November 2009 : Ian and his team see us each year at the Arb Show and Saltex, and they seem to buy another ladder each time. Ian appreciates the way the ladders get jobs done more quickly and easily than the old four-legged ones he used to use. Ian Kendrick: garden maintenance, landscape gardening, carpentry and… Read More


Matsu Sentei, Nara

21st November 2009 : On a trip to Nara (to check out Isui-en garden) I came across this bit of pine pruning, around the back of the small museum next to the garden (actually I heard the snipping from inside the museum, and was out in a flash.) They were using that most rare thing, an 11' tripod ladder (they're made in… Read More

japanese pine

Matsu Sentei

17th November 2009 : Autumn in Japan is a pretty good time of year, especially if you're into pine pruning. I was taking a quick walk around the neighbourhood one morning when I saw a small truck loaded with tripod ladders pull in to someone's driveway. That could only be one thing - matsu sentei! I hung around across… Read More


2010 Brochure

14th November 2009 : We've just got back from a trip to Japan, with hundreds of photos to sift through, but before that, here's a taster of the new Niwaki 2010 brochure, courtesy of Dad. If you're not already on our mailing list and would like a copy, let us know. Read More

Niwaki 2010

Jacques Wirtz garden

24th October 2009 : Last week I got to see Jacques Wirtz's garden in Belgium, which was a great privilege. I'd seen pictures of the box hedge before, but hadn't realised there was so much of it. I was there on TOP SECRET research, so don't want to give away too much- but here it is... Read More

jacques wirtz

The Continuing Tale of the Viburnum Tinus Outside Our Back Door

14th October 2009 : This was a bushy, messy plant until a few years ago, when it started to get too big. I rounded it off  just to keep it small, then the next year cut off the lower branches, which made it feel lighter. Then, last year, I started shaping the top. Recently I gave it another go, cutting off all the… Read More

viburnum tinus

Marqueyssac in the mist

29th September 2009 : A quick trip to see the gardens at Marqueyssac in the Dordogne, and I learned a new French word - la brume. I got there early hoping to get good light, but until 10 it was shrouded, rather poetically, in mist.If you fancy visiting, I recommend staying in the Manoir de la Malartrie, a few minutes… Read More


More from the Vaults: Kumano Kodo

19th September 2009 : Three years ago we made a trip to explore the Kumano kodo, the pilgrim routes in Wakayama and Ise. (Japan, needless to say.) It was late October, but still very hot, and we didn't do much walking, but here's one section we did. Could easliy imagine encountering Mifune Toshiro in one of his samurai… Read More

kumano kodo

Topiary Arts

5th September 2009 :  We like James! This is what it says on his website:"His skills in creating topiary shapes have been recognised by industry leaders and his work and demonstrations have been featured in many classical exhibits displaying topiary - Chelsea, Hampton Court, RHS London and on TV. James’ topiary… Read More


Knives Out

4th September 2009 :   “In an idle moment we found there was more to topiary than balls, cones and peacocks. All you need is a good pair of shears, an imagination and a sense of humour. (oh, and a ladder) ((and a hedge)) (((and some obliging customers))) We do it because it’s fun. We do it because we can.”The… Read More

nicky fraser

From the Vaults

28th August 2009 : Two from the vaults: a disc I found with some old negatives I'd had scanned. These are the garden at Tokushima castle in Shikoku, taken in late October 2004, and that's me, the skinny one on the bridge.   Read More

tokushima castle

The Most Amazing Yew Tree

14th August 2009 : Last week we made a visit to the most amazing yew tree ever. Owned, and pruned, by an eighty two year old, who puts aside most of August for the annual clip. The original tree was cut back to about 8' in the 1930's, but rather than resprouting, a sucker grew from the bottom, so this version is… Read More

yew topiary

Niwaki Ambassador: Dig It, California

1st August 2009 : Dave Martinez at Dig It Landscapes specialises in garden construction and maintenance in the Bay Area. He discovered us at the San Francisco Flower Show, and came away with 2 ladders and a full set of pruning tools. Having used Felcos for 30 years, Dave said the Tobisho secateurs took some getting… Read More

Dave Martinez at work

Self Pruning Trees

23rd July 2009 : Cupressus sempervirens in Tuscany Read More

cupressus sempervirens in Tuscany

The Blog is Back

18th July 2009 : Since the birth of our son, the blog has been one of the many things that has been thoroughly neglected. It was never a daily affair, nor was it topical or particularly relevant, and I can't see it changing much. What it will be, though, is a collection of pictures of pruning, trees, topiary ad… Read More

Harvard farm

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