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2011 Blog Posts


Happy Christmas

26th December 2011 : Happy Christmas everyone - hope you have a great New Year. Read More

juniper niwaki

Quietened Down A Bit

22nd December 2011 : Now the Christmas rush has ended, there's time to backtrack and admire some work we did a fortnight ago. With the help of Charlie and his guys at Tree Research, we (actually they - I stood around trying to look clever) put this dollop of organic box topiary in for a client. It was a long day, the… Read More

Organic Topiary

Not far from Tondabayashi, in a village called Nakasabi, quite near the Mini Mart...

4th December 2011 : ... lies one of my favourite trees in all of Japan. I pass it almost everyday when we're in Japan, and this day I stopped to take a few pics, and happened to meet the owner. He told me he'd been working on the tree (Podocarpus macrophyllus, btw) for 30 years, and he reckoned it could be as much as… Read More



26th November 2011 : On our visit to Yoshimine in Kyoto, we also dropped in on Shobo-ji temple. I'd made a note of it on my phone earlier in the year as a place worth visiting, but couldn't remember why. I suspect it had something to do with the trees.... Read More

monkaburi, shobo-ji

Ripley Castle

23rd November 2011 : Stayed at the Boar's Head in Ripley the other day before seeing a client. Great beer, lovely pork belly, and a free visit to Ripley Castle. Bit foggy though. Rather a jaunty angle. Love the beech leaves at this time of year. and some funny pumpkins. Read More

ripley castle

Trucks, a moped, and some daisugi

20th November 2011 : A nice, and very typical view, in Tondabayashi.  Read More

dai sugi

Atsuta Jinja

14th November 2011 : (One of) the (many) nice things about Japan is you are never far from a shrine, wherever you may be, and that normally means big, old trees. During a quick trip to Nagoya I dropped in on Atsuta jinja, home to a very fat kusunoki (Cinnamomum camphora), as well as some very pleasant sacred woodland… Read More


longest pine ever

11th November 2011 : Most trees are renowned for other dimensions - height, girth, volume or age - but this one, a white pine (Pinus parvilfora) in Yoshimine temple in SW Kyoto, is meant to be the longest tree in Japan, and thus most likely the world (who else delights in training their trees sideways quite like the… Read More

yoshimine pine


10th November 2011 : Kenrokuen garden, in Kanazawa, is one the BIG THREE gardens in Japan. It is most famous for its winter snow protection, but before they get round to that preparation, there is the small business of pruning all the pines. These were taken on my phone and messed about with. Apart from the weeding… Read More


252 white willows

9th November 2011 : While in Japan, my new book finally came out- very excited to get home and see it properly for the first time. I was very fortunate in having some fantastic photographic contributions, by gardeners, artists and photographers. One such contribution came from the artist Lucien den Arend in Finland… Read More

252 willows

Back from Japan

7th November 2011 : Just got back from Japan, worn out and suddenly rather cold. It was 25 degrees in Osaka when we left. Made it through customs literally bristling with sharp shiny stuff, to be announced soon, but until then, and the hundreds of pics that have yet to be sifted through, here is a picture of a bowl… Read More


Video from a fun website

2nd October 2011 : This is fun! (scroll down to the guerilla gardening skate) The website's fun, and well worth exploring, even if you don't read Japanese (I don't) Check out the row of ginkgos on the Tokyo street and there are some nice trees here too Read More


3 days, 3 pines

29th September 2011 : P. sylvestris on a customer's roof terrace in London. This began life as a bonsai - I've been called in to look after it from now on. P. nigra near Chepstow. I've been working on these for 3 years now, and they're coming on nicely. P. parviflora, Syon Park London Hotel.  Read More

black pine

Niwaki Hedge

25th September 2011 : Nicky and Jonny Fraser came round on Friday, to add some of their Shropshire Funk to our yew hedge at Harvard. and here's the finished product: Read More

niwaki hedge

Matsu sentei!

16th September 2011 : Autumn is officially here when it's time for pine pruning. (well, maybe I'm jumping the gun a bit, but it's too exciting to hold on any longer) Read More

pine pruning

More shears than you can shake a stick at

13th September 2011 : Our range of pruning shears has just grown again. We now have four different sizes from Okatsune, two from ARS, two from Masamune (coming in November) and one from Tobisho. Try shaking a stick at all of them at once - can't be done. Read More

tobisho shears


10th September 2011 : quite soon, my new book is coming out. It's called The Art of Creative Pruning, Inventive Ideas for Training and Shaping Trees and Shrubs, and is published by Timber Press. You can buy signed copies here, but it's probably cheaper elsewhere. It's full of great pictures from various contributors… Read More

jake's new book

Still Life With Tulips

7th September 2011 : Dad's new website is up and running! Check out The recent work is all for sale... Read More

tim hobson artist

Gardeners World

12th August 2011 : Did you see Monty using Japanese shears on Gardeners World? Yeah!! Coincidentally, I bought one of those Stihl battery hedge cutters recently, and had a go the other day. Might get round to writing some sort of a review some time.... Read More

japanese shears

Relief Carving

4th August 2011 : Faced with a large yew drum and a brief to keep it simple: Read More

yew drum_niwaki

On Monday he ate through...

1st August 2011 : one of my best pines, but he was still hungry.  Little devils. Read More

very hungry caterpillar

The Rising Sun

29th July 2011 : There's a pine tree outside a pub called The Rising Sun on the A30 near Shaftesbury. I pass it quite often and always want to stop and photograph it. Last week I spent a few very pleasant evening in another Rising Sun, so yesterday, when I passed by, quite early but not THAT early in the morning… Read More

Rising Sun Pine

Weird Tools

28th July 2011 : Spent the weekend at the Art in Action fair at Waterperry near Oxford. Look at the weird tools they had in the museum (and if you ever visit, say hello to Gordon) These were double-bladed shears that supposedly cut twice as much, but apparently were useless (well, that's not quite how Gordon put… Read More

weird secateurs

Bring Back The Privet

17th July 2011 : Not sure why privet hedges are no longer planted - they seem much much better than leylandii, in virtually every way: not quite so vigorous, can be cut back hard, flower a bit and nicer looking.  Here's one in Bristol I did recently: And then I spotted these piles of grass cuttings. Read More

cloud pruned privet hedge

HC no.2

13th July 2011 : Back from Hampton Court flower show, where true to form it rained. Not all the time, but enough. Many thanks to Petra, who described our stuff as 'a tantalising array of some seriously sexy Japanese secateurs, clippers, garden scissors and… Read More

world vision

World Vision

2nd July 2011 : No, it's not a Roy Ayers song, but Sim & John's (FlemonsWarland Design) garden at Hampton Court this year, sponsored by World Vision, brought to you in a sneak preview: John (with the stubble) helped out at the Niwaki stand at Chelsea, where he came across our Tobisho shears with the curved… Read More

world vision 1

The Longest Day

21st June 2011 : According to the Druids* it's auspicious to clip ones Lonicera nitida over the summer solstice (*needs confirming) so, at 4.45am exactly, as the sun rose over the Pallington Lakes I set about the second clip of the year for this large blobbery. It needs another year, but already is taking shape. Read More

organic lonicera blobs 1

Topiary Tree Expert in New York

17th June 2011 : Check this out, in You Tube !!! Read More

EROV pt 2

14th June 2011 : Probably shouldn't say this, but the thing I liked the most at EROV when I visited the other day was the Pinus radiata windbreak hedges. They remind me of the hedges at Ritsurin koen in Japan, yet also seem appropriate in East Anglia given the fondness for Scots pine windbreaks along the A14 at… Read More

pine hedge

East Ruston Old Vicarage

13th June 2011 : Just back from a Plant Fair at East Ruston Old Vicarage over in Norfolk. Right over in Norfolk. Miles away. They're good customers of ours, so it was nice to see the gardens. Read More

east ruston 1

Is it me?

2nd June 2011 : Is it me or are the ash trees looking particularly nice at the moment? More images from Chelsea: something from Crug Farm Plants  The Niwaki stand and some arty stuff from John Warland who helped out for the show Read More

crug farm plants

More from Chelsea

1st June 2011 : More, in no order and with no comment: Read More


Back from Chelsea

29th May 2011 : Some images from Chelsea: Cleve West's Best In Show Garden: More to follow through the week Read More


Hi Ho, Hi Ho

19th May 2011 : It's off to Chelsea Flower Show we go. Come and see us at NRW/4, near the loos, the way out for Sloane Square tube, and pretty near the Champagne bar!  Read More

bendy yew

Fear & Loathing

16th May 2011 : Just back from an odd little trip to Las Vegas. Blew all my money on the first night so ended up looking at the trees. The pics are all taken on my phone, edited with the photoshop app, and framed. except you can't see the frame on the white background... You'll notice the grass. Almost as… Read More

olives 1

West Dean

4th May 2011 : Two rather strong images from West Dean College near Chichester, which I dropped in on the other day. Pretty much everything here is clipped. Read More

west dean 1


2nd May 2011 : For various reasons I found myself close by to Architectural Plants nursery in Nuthurst this afternoon. If you have never been before, go now. Spend a bit of time, get someone to make you a nice cup of coffee (thanks Tracey) and wander up to the Stock Field, where you'll find, amongst other… Read More


Bet you've never heard of the Shimeji Tree

30th April 2011 : I'm watching Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall when writing this, hence the foodie theme. We're used to the idea of mushroom shapes popping up in pruning - mushroom standards and mushroom blobs. Well how about we get more specific, and cite individual mushroom types. What about shimeji standards? We ate… Read More

shimeji mushroom

Oh yeah - we also sell hammers

27th April 2011 : here: Read More

japanese hammer

Almost Box Clipping Time

26th April 2011 : Not long now for box clipping. Traditionally in the UK Derby Day was when to get stuck in - early June - but now it seems to be any time in May. Whatever, or whenever, you’ll get far better results, and enjoy it more, using sharp shears. And that, funnily enough, is where we come in... I tend to… Read More

niwaki box clipping shears

Japan Tsunami Appeal Update

5th April 2011 : Shaftesbury Town Hall turned all Japanese for the morning on Saturday, as over £2,500 was raised for the Japan Tsunami Appeal. Lots of our customers contributed by ordering stuff over the weekend - 10% is going to Japan - and a few even sent in donations. Thank you all very much. Read More

tsunami appeal

Japan Tsunami Appeal

1st April 2011 : Tomorrow (Saturday 2nd April) some of Keiko's Japanese friends in the area are holding a fund raising event in Shaftesbury, outside the Town Hall during the farmers market. It's from 9.00 - 1.00, so please, if you're anywhere nearby, come along - and be sure to get there early, before the sushi… Read More

tsunami appeal

Whole Lotta Love

25th March 2011 : In a list of big excitements that have befallen me of late (starting with the birth of our boy Digby more than two years ago now, then moving into our new home after more than a year and a half of planning and builder hassle, and finally Arsenal coming from behind to beat Barcelona 2-1 at the… Read More

Phillyrea latifolia 1

First Clip

24th March 2011 : Just done some work on a hedge in Normandy - that's Normandy, Surrey, not Normandy, Missouri. Quite an established box hedge that the owner, a painter, wanted to make more of a feature of, but also to preserve its function of a border hedge between them and the neighbours. It had one or two holes… Read More

cloud pruned box hedge 1


17th March 2011 : The Mail on Sunday gave our Okatsune secateurs top marks, 5 out of 5, best in category, in their super sexy spring secateur spectacular this weekend. We've had a bit of a rush. Telegraph readers already knew that, of course, ever since Bunny Guinness described them as life changing some time ago… Read More

okatsune secateurs

Earthquake and tsunami

13th March 2011 : Following the shocking and terrible news over the weekend, friends and customers have kindly been in touch asking about Keiko and her family - fortunately her family are in Osaka to the south, but needless to say this will affect the whole country for a long time to come. Our thoughts are with… Read More

Silky Does It Again

9th March 2011 : Not sure what 'it' is exactly, but there you go. Just got three new Silky saws in stock, all with fantastic names: The Ginga (fine teeth for bamboo sawing) Gomtaro Ringo (for apple tree pruning, with a very natty wooden scabbard) and the remarkable Genki Temagari (for chopping down trees) Have a… Read More

silky gomtaro apple

One Cut Wonder

7th March 2011 : It always amazes me how effective just one cut can be sometimes. There's this pine on the bank above the tennis court at Harvard farm that has been crying out to me a lot recently. Today it cried a bit louder, and I finally got round to responding. Not sure what pine it is - that's not really the… Read More

niwaki pine pruning1

Organic What?

4th March 2011 : Organic Topiary When asked what kind of work I do, I sometimes struggle to reduce the answer to a descriptive, eloquent and reasonably concise answer: well, it’s Japanese-style topiary, which is known as niwaki, which means garden tree, which really means pruning and training plants into stylized… Read More

organic topiary

Weird Bits of Old Hedge

2nd March 2011 : Today, whilst out and about, I came across these weird bits of old hedge, nicely clipped into stranded topiary blobs. Think they must be holly. I like what I'm guessing is the graze line - the high tide mark, the visual contrast between the teeth of mammals and those of hedge cutters. If they were… Read More

odd hedge


25th February 2011 : Dropped in on the sculpture park at the New Art centre near Salisbury ( Messing about with a new toy for my iphone, pro HDR (high dynamic range) that takes 2 pictures, one of the dark bits and one of the light bits, and merges them together. Works really well, but you… Read More

richard long1

Tobisho Service

19th February 2011 : All our Tobisho tools (the Secateurs, Pro Snips, Barracuda and Topiary Clippers, Garden Scissors and extraordinary Shears can be sent back to Yamagata for a full service. We'd never used this service, until a customer sent in his secateurs before Christmas. He'd had a fight (and lost, by the looks… Read More

tobisho - before

More Old Pics

14th February 2011 : A few more from the file I found the other day 'untitled folder 2' Osaka Castle: pines and walls. Read More

osaka castle stonework

Turf Art

7th February 2011 : Danny Law sent me these pics recently, of some of his turf art. He's done more - things like raised beds for children's  allotments, but I like these abstract ones, like ancient Mayan temples or somethng. Danny Law: Read More


Kingston Deverill 3

6th February 2011 : pollarded limes Read More

pollarded limes

Old Pics

3rd February 2011 : Found a file of old pics from Japan, not sure what they were for, but here are a couple for starters: Pine trunks at Adachi Museum. love that stonework at the foot of the wall. Podcarpus branches at Isuien, Nara Read More



28th January 2011 : Not sure where, messed about with in Aperture 3. Read More



26th January 2011 : Dropped a ladder off for Nick Kilroy today, head gardener for the Bishop of Winchester. Rather a nice backdrop, don't you think? Read More


Kingston Lacy

20th January 2011 : Quick visit today to Kingston Lacy in Dorset. We drove along the B3082, down the 2 1/2 mile beech avenue, and then met Andrew Hunt, the head gardener, and Maddie, who showed us round the Japanese garden. Photos from around the house: Nice yew thing in the background, and Digby in foreground. Read More

box at kingston lacy

Do Not Adjust Your Set

10th January 2011 : Check out Carol Klein's new show Life in a Cottage Garden on Friday 14th (BBC 2, 8.30) to see a bit of my pruning, and read about it here and watch it here (skipped to the good bit!) photo from Read More

jake hobson

Digby Tower

3rd January 2011 : No doubt inspired by the holm oak growing on the top of the tower in Lucca (opens Google images) our boy Digby set about building his own this morning... On a similar note, check out the trees here at YouTube  in the 2009 Children in Need special - it's great fun. (Actually they are the… Read More

digby tower

Nikon D200

1st January 2011 : My trusty Nikon D200 for sale on ebay, along with a 28mm 2.8AF Nikkor lens (makes a nice 42mm lens as old style): Read More

nikon d200 1

nikkormat ftn

1st January 2011 : For sale on ebay, my old and very lovely Nikkormat FTN. Body only, in good working condition. You can see the foam shutter frame bit has been reglued at some stage, and the corner edges around where it says Nikkormat have had the odd scrape. there are slight marks on the front, just below the… Read More

nikkormat ftn1

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