The showroom is now open, Monday - Friday, 9 - 5

2010 Blog Posts


when does mist become fog?

30th December 2010 : and what happens if you chop all the branches off a Cedar of Lebanon? We're waiting on Gary, the website guy, to explain why pictures from my iphone are rotated like this. Meanwhile, turn your head a bit... Read More

cedar of lebanon

and now it's foggy

28th December 2010 : the snow has gone, but now it's foggy! Read More

pollarded limes


23rd December 2010 : Hope everyone has a great Christmas and New Year! meanwhile, pics are still coming up wrong way round, sorry. Read More


Tangerine Trees

11th December 2010 : One tangerine tree Two tangerine trees. Read More

tangerine tree

Icy Trees

7th December 2010 : I've managed to avoid taking too many photos of plants with snow on them this year - but today was so exceptional I had to snap a few pics on my phone as I drove along (somewhere in Wiltshire, I think.) Just to make them funkier than normal, my computer wants them landscape, even though they… Read More

icy trees

2011 Brochure

23rd November 2010 : As hotly awaited as the latest Harry Potter instalment, we're very excited to announce the arrival of the new Niwaki 2011 brochure. Cover art is by brother Barney ( and it's packed to the brim with goodies - and typos, more than likely. If you're not on our mailing… Read More

niwaki 2011

Cloud Pruned yews at Old Morley Hall

8th November 2010 : Last week saw me out in Norfolk, doing some work for Amazing Retreats. They run properties for events and wedding etc. The journey was fun, passing all the Scots pines along the A11 around Thetford. The job itself, as you can see from the pics, involved transforming yew topiaries at Morley Old… Read More

morley 1


2nd November 2010 : The very mild weather we've had recently has been perfect for rootballing - conifers and evergreens move better in the autumn when there's still a bit of warmth left in the soil for the roots to grow a bit before winter sets in. This is Cryptomeria japonica, which I'm growing in sort of… Read More


Pollarded trees...yotsuyayahoo

31st October 2010 : There's a guy in Tokyo, Andrew Deane, working on a web-based book on Japanese gardens, along with a very interesting blog on the making of his garden in Hachioji, who is worth checking out: It's a work in progress, and my initial thoughts were… Read More



30th October 2010 : Welcome to the weird world of my little brother, Barney. He's been doing this blog for almost two years and only thought to mention it me the other day. Like all true blogs it seems slightly neglected of late, but delve back into the past for some cracking stuff. Below is a self portrait. Check it… Read More

Barney Hobson

Nikon 35-70 AFD 2.8 lens on ebay

23rd October 2010 : My 35-70 lens is on ebay at the moment, ending Sunday afternoon. Lovely lens, great condition, but sits around unused. Serial No. 833574 Here are more pictures I'm also selling a Ricoh GRD - really beautiful little camera, of which for some odd reason I have two! Read More

nikon 1

0845 RANT

21st October 2010 : We've been having problems with our 0845 number recently. Well, we haven't been having problems, but the supplier has. Just not working. This happened once before, I got in a huff and swore when it next happened we'd ditch them. So this time action was called for. Unfortunately they weren't very… Read More

strimmed mares tail

Hot Stuff

21st October 2010 : My Mum came back from a garden visit to Brittany recently, and looking through her pics, this clipped box edging caught my eye. Not sure where it is, but we'll find out. The nodules are a bit gingery, don't you think. Read More

brittany garden

Pine Pruning in Hungary

14th October 2010 : A customer of ours from Hungary, Gabor, sent this pic of him pruning. We're sending him a tripod ladder, but for now he's relying on a whole stack of Niwaki books! Hungarians - are you all this crazy? Read More

Gabor pruning niwaki


10th October 2010 : we've been running an offer today, to acknowledge the nice symmetry of the date, for all our subscribed customers. An extra element was a little freebie to anyone who got their order to us online at exactly 10.10am. Ladies and gentlemen.... we have a winner. Well, two seconds early actually, but… Read More

niwaki walnut

Birch woods at Cannock Chase

29th September 2010 : Just back from the APF forestry show at Cannock Chase. Lovely Scots pines in autumn light, and this rather nice bit of birch woodland. Not normally a fan of birch trees in the garden, they seem over used, but this was nice. Snapped on my iphone. Read More

birch woodland

Mt Fuji, One Year Later

21st September 2010 : Sorting through last year's pics, I came across this set, from a trip to Hakone. Nice pine, nice set of ladders, nice mountain. Mountain behind me: Pine behind me: Pine above me: Ladders beside me: Read More

fuji- black pine

Monster Maki

14th September 2010 : Just been sent this great pic of an enormous Podocarpus macrophyllus in Kagoshima, Southern Japan, by Keith from Canada. It's a whopper. Read More

niwaki podocarpus

Command + Shift + 3

3rd September 2010 : Command + shift + 3, that's the buttons I pressed for this screenshot from Google Earth, the link sent by Mark in the US. How he spotted this, I have no idea, but I suspect he has too much spare time. Take a walk down the suburbs of Kobe. Read More

screen shot

Thuja Hedge

2nd September 2010 : Just clipped the wavey thuja hedge at Harvard farm. It separates the greenhouse area from the garden, so hides a fair bit of clutter. Last year it was cut back quite hard and we've been letting it grow back to redefine the waves. It's an overlpapping two-parter. Read More

thuja hedge

Cloud Pruned Bay

24th August 2010 : A nice view of the border at Harvard Farm, with a large Laurus nobilis lurking at the back that I've been gradually pruning into shape. Coppiced Paulownia tomentosa in the background. Read More

Harvard farm cloud pruned bay

New Ladders

17th August 2010 : Have a look at our new garden ladder from Hasegawa: Same construction technique as the tripod ladders. Lightweight, extruded aluminium that's all welded not riveted - but - wait for it - only two legs! Made especially for tree work, with the indented neck that fits around the trunk, but also works… Read More

garden ladder

10th August 2010 : very excited to say that my new website is up and running, courtesy of Gary at Flaydemouse in Yeovil please check it out if you have a minute spare: (and report any typos you find) Read More

Not sure who this is

8th August 2010 : Last month we were at the Hampton Court Flower Show, in the new gardens Illustrated Pavilion. Strange people kept climbing up our ladder. Thanks to Roel van Norel for the photos. Our neighbours were De Wiltfang from Holland. This is Bert, with one of his wooden ladders. Read More

Joe swift

Plane Trees in France

28th July 2010 : Even when there aren't many exciting trees or much pruning to see, in France there's always the plane trees to fall back on.... here are just a few. Read More

pollarded planes

Quick Trip

27th July 2010 : Just got back from a quick trip to see friends near Molandier in Languedoc. Not a lot of trees or topiary, but lots and lots of sunflowers... This was taken on my iphone, with no tweaking. Quite a fine loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) at the Basilica of St Sernin, Toulouse. Read More


Cloud Pruned Box Hedge

15th July 2010 : On a quick delivery run today I ended up demoing an 8' ladder on this fantastic old hedge in Winterbourne Dauntsey. The owners have clipped it already this year, but couldn't quite reach the middle, hence the need for the tripod ladder, which poked in very easily. Actually there were two hedges -… Read More

cloud pruned box hedge

EBTS advert

2nd July 2010 : A few people have commented how they liked our advert at the back of the EBTS (European Boxwood and Topiary Society) magazine Topiarus - none of them actually bought anything, cheapskates, but it's nice of them to mention it. Here is the picture in the ad. If you want to learn more about the EBTS… Read More

ebts advert

Quick Trip To Cottesbrooke

2nd July 2010 : A quick trip to Cottesbrooke last week, to the excellent PlantFinders Fair. Amongst other things I saw: Nice yew hedges/topiary Pleached lime allees epicormic growth taken to its limits (actually in Scaldwell) Read More

cottesbrooke yew

Gardens of Japan, by Helena Attlee

7th June 2010 : Here's a review of Helena Attlee's new book I was asked to write for the European Boxwood and Topiary Society (EBTS) magazine, Topiarus. Unfortunately they left my name out!   White pine at Hosen-in, Kyoto. Photo by Alex Ramsey. The Gardens of Japan, by Helena Attlee with photographs by Alex… Read More


Niwaki at the Chelsea Flower Show

24th May 2010 : Come and see us at the Chelsea Flower Show all this week, at stand RM39. We're exhibiting our range of tripod ladders and pruning tools, all displayed in a very fancy tea house courtesy of David Burgess at Jade Pavilions with cloud pruned Myrtus apiculata from Architectural Plants The sun is… Read More

niwaki at chelsea

My favourite Japanese-syle garden in the UK

18th May 2010 : Yesterday I dropped in on what i think is the best example of a Japanese-style garden in the UK (I haven't seen them all, of course...) It's not the biggest, the oldest, the best known, or anything like that, but it has a collection of great trees - Scots pines, larches and Nothofagus - that win… Read More

Sievert garden

New New New

30th April 2010 : We've just added some of the most lovely little household scissors you're ever likely to come across - and some tailor's shears which Keiko raves about. Check them out! Read More

household scissors

Japanese Pine Pruning in Sheffield

14th April 2010 : On a recent trip to Sheffield I met John Abson, who like me has spent time in Japan. (In fact he lived in Kanazawa, home of Kenrokuen garden, where they tie up the pines over winter to protect them from heavy snow.) He works for Sheaf Training (that's people not trees) and is embarking on some… Read More

pine pruning

Lucano Step Stool

18th March 2010 : Dabbling in interiors now, may we introduce the beautiful Lucano Step Stool - it's a lot more Japanese than it sounds. Read More


Painswick Church

15th March 2010 : I was up in Sheffield over the weekend. On the way up I dropped in on a few places in Gloucestershire I wanted to see, including the churchyard at Painswick. LOTS of yew. Read More


The Willows and Wetland Centre, Somerset

11th March 2010 : A quick visit to Stoke St Gregory to see the withy beds. Check out their website For tehnoboffs, this is my first attempt at raw editing, using the new Aperture 3 software - hence the funky sky in the first picture. Read More



9th March 2010 : A friend of ours, Yoshi, has just got back from a trip home to Matsumoto in Japan. Here are some of his pictures Not entirely sure what's in here - could be cycads. Read More


Forde Abbey

7th March 2010 : An afternoon visit to Forde Abbey in Dorset today. Sunny but chilly. Nice clipped holly and Pinus montezuma combination. Read More

holly pinus montezuma niwaki

Bits of Old Hedge

6th March 2010 : Bits of old hedge in Dorset Read More


Pleached Limes

3rd March 2010 : Taking some photos of a pleached lime hedge today (for a TOP SECRET PROJECT I'm working on) I had fun playing around with exposures, trying to get detail in the dull skies. Some inevitably were over or under exposed, and got the chop. These 3 were interesting enough to keep, with a bit of tweaking. Read More

pleached limes

Niwaki: Japanische Gartenbaume schneiden und formen

10th February 2010 : Ulmer have just published my Niwaki book in German, for anyone interested! Read More


Changing Light Bulbs

7th February 2010 : A couple of years ago I showed a picture of Dad changing light bulbs with the 12' tripod ladder in their sitting room. Today we got the Adjustable 8 footer out to change the bulb at the top of the stairs. There was just room half way up the stairs for the ladder to fit, with all 3 legs adjusted… Read More

adjustable tripod ladder

Cakes and Ladders

4th February 2010 : Last year Helen Bostock at RHS Wisley bought one of our 12' pro tripod ladders for a photographic project she was in charge of. She needed the pro, not the regular model, to span the trial beds she was photographing. Follow her exploits here (and find out about the cake) Photo: Helen Bostock, RHS Read More

rhs tripod ladder

Niwaki Book Reviews

29th January 2010 : My Niwaki book is now in its 3rd run (not saying how many in a run though) and has been translated into French and German. People seem to like it, and (almost) all reviews have been favorable. Read More

niwaki book review1

Amateur Gardening: Tripod Ladder BEST BUY!

29th January 2010 : After rigorous, head to head testing with the Henchman platform by John Swithinbank, our 10' tripod ladder came out on top! (This was summer 2009. Our phone number has changed, and our prices have gone down.) Read More

best buy

Bunny Guinness Christmas Shopping

29th January 2010 : Better late than never, this was in the Sunday Telegraph just before Christmas. We'd sold out of Okatsune secateurs by Sunday night, and hori horis by Wednesday! Read More

Bunny Guinness review

Old Tripod Ladders

27th January 2010 : Check out this collection of old steel tripod ladders, still in use today by the looks of things. They must weigh a ton. There's a few newer ones in the background. Also, what I like most of all about Japanese nurseries - the vegetables growing amongst the trees. Some taro with the big leaves, and… Read More

tripod ladders

Ise Jingu

21st January 2010 : This is from yonks back- first Japanese photos with my then-new Ricoh GRD in fact. It was a trip to Ise shrine in Mie, one of the most important Shinto shrines in the country. This is pretty much where life in Japan began, according to legend. It's also the place they rebuild very 20 years (next… Read More

ise jingu

More Trees From The Japanese Nursery

17th January 2010 : During our trip to japan last autumn I spent a few hours looking round a local nursery, with an amazing collection of trees. Here are a few, with more to follow. Pinus thunbergii - kuromatsu   Podocarpus macrophyllus - maki Ilex integra - mochinoki, daimochi These daimochi are an evergreen holly… Read More


Japanese White Pines

13th January 2010 : Keith from Vancouver, who regularly sends over fascinating pictures from his travels to Japan, sent this one recently, of his father-in-law at work* on white pines (goyoumatsu). Look at all the bamboo poles used as splints in each tree, training the branches down. * Actually Keith has now told me… Read More

japanese white pine

Niwaki Workshop 15th September

10th January 2010 : I'm organising a day-long workshop at Harvard Farm,with an informal talk/slideshow, a tasty lunch, a tour round Mum's garden (usually only open to Borderlines tours) and a workshop looking at pine pruning and cloud pruning. It should be interesting both for people keen to introduce a bit of… Read More

jake hosbo

Happy Birthday Elvis

8th January 2010 : Rather than showing pleasant pics of snow-on-topiary I thought I'd honor Elvis' 75th birthday with some pics of a garden that my brother in law Shigenori always drives me to see when we stay with him in Japan. Nothing fancy, but great black pines - and some fine overhead cables too. I like the way… Read More

monkaburi  japanese pine


3rd January 2010 : A visit to the headquarters of Tenrikyo in Tenri (in Nara ken, I think) in early November. I'd been before at this time of year, and was hoping to see the gardeners in action. The red pines at the front had already been pruned, but sure enough, they were pruning the tall trees behind the main… Read More

cryptomeria pruning

New Year Clear Out

1st January 2010 : We're having a bit of a clear out on ebay if anyone is interested. Nikon F2, Nikon F 35-105 zoom, old barbour smock... more coming soon! Little Digby is selling off some of his snow suits too, so stock up for the chilly weather. HAPPY NEW YEAR Read More

nikon f2

  • There are no items in your basket