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2012 Blog Posts


Drive By Garden Appreciation

30th December 2012 : As the last caresses of the warm November sun loosened their sensuous touch on the surrounding hills ... No? Ok, just enjoy the garden then. Read More

Nara garden

Happy Christmas - from Arashiyama

27th December 2012 : Happy Christmas  - while we eat sweets and recover from colds, here are some pics from our trip to Japan in November. We spent an afternoon in Arashiyama, Kyoto, taking the Sagano mountain steam train and pottering about.  Lots of bamboo in Arashiyma... Read More

arashiyama 1

There's Still Time

12th December 2012 : We think we may be the only people on the earth selling not only the awesome woodsman’s Nata but also the incredibly nice Japanese rice paper MT sticky tape. In between such extremities you’ll find our range of pruning stuff, tripod ladders, kitchen knives, woodworking tools, books by Jake, and… Read More

niwaki christmas

Voulez-vous prunez avec moi, ce soir?

9th December 2012 : Just got my copy of Creer des Topiaires, aka The Art of Creative Pruning, translated and published by Rourge. It's softback, and rather nice, if I'm allowed to say so. Read More

Jake Hobson pruning

Evening Sun

8th December 2012 : It was sunny today, for a surprise, but it was sunny last month in Nara too. Here's a place known to me only as 'monk's garden', in the late afternoon sun of the Yamato plains. Lots of trachycarpus. Read More

monks garden nara1

Obsessions: Big Hedges and Landrovers

6th December 2012 : To my list of obsessions (filled mostly by tree and pruning related subjects) I've recently added Landrovers. Not too picky: new ones, old ones, big ones, small ones, Defenders, Series. They'll all do. So imagine the excitement today at Corsham Court. Read More

Corsham Court yew landrover

Roots n Rocks

5th December 2012 : Can't go wrong really. Read More

roots and rocks

Yet more from Taimadera (Taimadera pt 3)

4th December 2012 : Last one from Taimdera, the temple complex in Nara we visited last month. Here's a small garden, I think the home of one of the monks.  The pollarded tree is a sarusuberi (Lagerstroemia indica) cut back for the winter   Read More


Taimadera pt 2

30th November 2012 : More from Taimadera: Most of the low, blobby shapes are evergreen azaleas TThe trees are things like camellias and podocarps, pruned into shape, with a backdrop of maples. Read More

Taimadera 1

Taimadera, pt 1

25th November 2012 : My brother in law, Shigenori, took me to Taimadera, a large temple complex in Nara, founded in 612. So large it might take up a few posts, as it has several gardens, as well as nice trees like this topless juniper, below. I'd never really explored Nara much before - just the city itself, but not… Read More


Somewhere in Nara

24th November 2012 : Driving around Nara prefecture, we came upon this place. Not sure what it is, but I liked the screen of (most probably, but not definitely) Quercus myrsinfolia (Japanese white oak) and the Juniperus chinensis kaizuka (Chinese juniper) in the foreground. The next picture has a typical Japanese… Read More


Gio-ji Temple, Kyoto

22nd November 2012 : Where to start, sifting through 2 weeks worth of photos from Japan? how about Kyoto! We only had one day in Kyoto, based around a mountain train ride for the lad Digby, but I managed to skive off and have a quick potter around Arashiyama, with Gio-ji in mind as the destination.  Might have… Read More


Niwaki 2013 Brochure - Typo Quizz

20th November 2012 : Very excited to announce our new 2013 brochure, out now. It's got a moody, black and white feel to it, and as always is littered with typos, discrepancies and just plain old mistakes. Feel free to point out any that we may have missed. If you're not on the mailing list, and want a copy, email and… Read More

Niwaki brochure cover

Japanese Gardens

18th November 2012 : Getting to see private gardens in Japan is pretty tricky, unless you have an introduction - there's no yellow book system of open gardens, and they're not really geared to large numbers of people anyway. What is easy though, is looking at gardens from the road. Many Japanese homes only have a… Read More

long pine branch

Back from Japan

17th November 2012 : Just made it back from Japan, laden down with new products, samples and a foul cold. Until I've waded through all the pics of amazing gardens (mostly around Nara this time) here's a picture of a red tree. Must be Vitis cognitiae or something. Looks rather striking. Read More

red tree

Chalara fraxinea

25th October 2012 : Worrying stuff, this Chalara fraxinea fungus that is hitting ash trees across Europe and has now been found in the wild in East Anglia. The Forestry Commission have a page here    Where we are in the West Country, oak is the dominant tree, but on a recent trip to the Yorkshire Dales I noticed more… Read More

ash tree

The Hole Artcenter, Norway

23rd October 2012 : I'm just back from a pine pruning workshop at the Hole Artcenter, organised by Åsmund Bergwitz. I'd never been to Norway before, nor had I met Åsmund (sounds like Osmond) and I didn't know what to expect - but I had a fantastic time. The Hole Artcenter is around an hour from Oslo, on a fjord… Read More


Westonbirt Arboretum Limes

22nd October 2012 : Headed off to see the limes at Westonbirt recently - the (apparently) 2000 year old ring of coppice that is all from the same tree. It's due its 20 year cutback this winter, so now seemed like a good opportunity. Not really much to behold - the stools themselves were unremarkable, not like some… Read More

coppiced lime

Mitsubishi Hi-Uni pencils

22nd September 2012 : Throw away your iphones! Stamp on your kindles! Bury your laptops! We're more than a little bit excited to declare that we now have the legendary Mitsubishi Hi-Uni pencils available.  Pull out a sheet of paper, select a pencil of your preferred softness, and get scribbling.   Read More

mitsubishi hi-uni

Cloud Pruned Box Through Hipstamatic Eyes

15th September 2012 : Read More

cloud pruned box

Prunus lusitanica fungi

12th September 2012 : It's been a long time since I've clipped nice Portuguese laurel standards - they used to great great ones in from Italy at Architectural Plants, where we called them fungi and spent ages getting them into matching pairs. What I like about them, especially the smaller leafed (myrtifolia?) variety… Read More

portugese laurels

Customised Tobisho

16th August 2012 : We got a request recently from an orchard specialist, who had a large amount of summer pruning to do in an apple orchard. He was after a pair of secateurs hat he could use ALL DAY, EVERYDAY for three weeks, not for heavy work, just the soft summer growth, but lots and lots of it. So we got in… Read More

tobisho pruners

If it clips, clip it.

13th August 2012 : A common question I get asked is 'what plants can I use for cloud pruning' or something along those lines. Once we've got over the semantics of cloud pruning I then emphasise that, if we're looking for a Japanese style of pruning the plant does absolutely NOT have to be Japanese - it's what you do… Read More

cloud pruned bay


7th August 2012 : Introducing all manner of new snippy delights from Genzo. We had the choice of red, blue or yellow handles - went with yellow. What do you think? Read More

genzo clippers long

Japanese Food - in Dorset!

5th August 2012 : A friend of ours near Shaftesbury, Teruko, has just started her new Japanese cooking business Catering, workshops, even a Friday bento delivery service if you're lucky (or sensible) enough to live in Shaftesbury. Oishii! Teruko's big thing is local ingredients… Read More

Japanese food

Green Finger

23rd July 2012 : You'll love this in the Daily Mail (picture from Read More

green finger

Cosmic Slop

22nd July 2012 : Today was hot, at last, so we spent the afternoon in the garden, but were forced inside by a terrible pong. Guessing it was muck spreading (but not stopping to question the irregular seasonality of it) we cursed the farmer for ruining our hot day - until I discovered the COSMIC SLOP (ingredients… Read More

cosmic slop

The Return of the Blob

13th July 2012 : No, it's not a remake of the 50's Steve McQueen classic, it's even more more INDESCRIBABLE...even more INDESTRUCTABLE... even more NOTHING CAN STOPITABLE... Behold, the buxus blob. and in case you don't know what I'm on about: (image from google images) Read More

box blobs

In between the showers...

5th July 2012 : ...I've found time to do a bit of box pruning - more cloudy jobs, one year after planting. Read More

cloud hedging

Another Day, Another Dollop of Organic Topiary

19th June 2012 : Designed and planted very recently (not by me) we gave this lot of box a first cut today. Came out nicely. There's always a discussion about whether the individual plants should merge, like melted icecream dollops, or remain crisp, sharp and individual. We're going for the melted icecream here… Read More

cloud pruned box

Niwaki Box

12th June 2012 : Uncannily similar, in all respects, to a wine box, Niwaki are 'thrilled' to present the new Niwaki Tool Box, proudly embossed with the Niwaki hanko. A spokesman for the company said "'s great - genius even - you can keep your secateurs and hori hori and bits and pieces in it, or old nuts and… Read More

niwaki tool box

Cottesbrooke Gardeners' Fair

10th June 2012 : Did a blog post for the Cottesbrooke site last week (already eclipsed by James Alexander-Sinclair's wittier, more succinct offering, but hey ho). Come on over to the Gardeners' Fair 22-24th June. It's always sunny, there's lots of talks (I'm doing one each day on Creative Pruning) and you won't… Read More

jake hobson pruning

Niwaki meets Toast

6th June 2012 : Check out Jake's post for the Toast blog. Lovely pictures by Nick Seaton, showing Levens Hall in a new, decidedly toast-like, light. Read More


Blobs, Puddings, or Mushrooms-Without-Stalks?

31st May 2012 : Recently planted (by Charlie Noton of Tree Research) these box just got their first clip. They'll need another year or two to get just right, but for now, they'll do. All done with hand shears - my new best friend: the medium length, lightweight Okatsune… Read More

box blobs

Off To France

23rd May 2012 : taking part in a pine pruning thing near Nantes over the weekend, if anyone is nearby Read More

niwaki pines

Back To Belgium

23rd May 2012 : A couple of weeks ago I was at the Beervelde Flower show in Belgium - here are two interesting pics of tree training I passed by: these fellows are planes - pruned as type 2 if you read what I have to say about pleaching in my recent book... These could be beech or hornbeam, growing to fill the… Read More

pleached limes 2

Niwaki Meets the Conran Shop

22nd May 2012 : Excited to say that the Conran shop is now an official Niwaki outlet. They need to brush up on their spelling, but the display is lovely.   Read More

niwaki conran


15th May 2012 : Back from the Beervelde Flower Show. Stayed at friends  (Buxuskwekerij Goossens) in a lovely Flanders farm house, the smell of boxwood all around. Read More


Viva Las Vegas

7th May 2012 : Just back from a great trip to Las Vegas - strictly business of course. Of notable interest were: 1. The Cuprressus sempervirens around the Bellagio pool (this is the Niwaki blog remember, so that's all you're seeing from the pool). 2. The multi-stemmed olives outside the Bellagio Hotel 3. The… Read More

bellagio cupressus

The Big Smoke

26th April 2012 : Yesterday saw me on a train, London-bound. I'd blagged a ticket to the Hatchards Authors of the Year bash in Picadilly, so I was considerably outside my comfort zone (not just London, but drinks party). It was fun, we drank champagne, ate little things and chatted the way authors do, and - bit of… Read More


Tobisho Secateurs. OMG.

24th April 2012 : Today was lime pollarding day - just about my favourite pruning day imagainable. We have two small trees, so it's not a vast undertaking. Usually I try to get it done earlier on, berfore Christmas, because I'm a fan of  the nobbly silhouettes look rather than the shaggy… Read More

tobisho hiryu

Happy Customer?

20th April 2012 : "Because of the new tools my clients think I'm obsessive, my staff think I'm possessive, my friends think I'm square, and my wife thinks I'm boring. Thank you, thank you, thank you." No, Roland, thank YOU! Read More

tobisho hiryu secateurs

Irish Yews

18th April 2012 : Irish yews: funny old things. For starters, they're meant to all be the same, clones of the original two trees found in Northern Ireland. BUT that's clearly not the case. Yesterday I cam across a row of 6, 2 of which were completely different. They didn't have that super dark foliage, almost… Read More

irish yew

Niwaki Get With It

13th April 2012 : Calling all Facebookers and Twitterers: never ones to rush with such things, the Niwaki site is now fully connected. Spread the word! Read More

get with it

More Lethal Stuff

12th April 2012 : More lethal stuff hot in. This time it's a wicked little sickle from Okatsune, perfect for slashing and clearing. In eye-catching red. Only from Niwaki. Read More


Weather on the A30

10th April 2012 : Minutes before driving through a hail storm. Read More


New. Weird Cryptomeria Bark.

9th April 2012 : For those of a particularly Japanese bent, this is pretty exciting stuff: Strips of bark from the Cryptomeria japonica (sugi) sewn together into rolls, for protecting trunks and branches when training and supporting. Make no sense at all? We're looking for a suitable example, but until then, behold: Read More

sugi tape

Back in Stock

3rd April 2012 : It's take a while, but happy to report that (almost) everything is back in stock at last. Apologies to all those who've patiently waited - we're sending out back orders this week. Read More

back in stock

Remnants of a beech hedge

29th March 2012 : A pruning job took me to Exmoor the other day, and passed this wonderful old bit of beech - what looks like the remnants of an old laid hedge.  Read More

old beech

Their Time Was Up

23rd March 2012 : And so it was. The last two Phillyrea latifolia on Mum's lawn were given the chop. They were taking up too much space and light, and rather than pruning and shaping Mum decided to get rid of them completely -  but rather than chopping them down, out came the trusty spade, and we dug 'em up. They… Read More

Phillyrea 1

The First Clip

16th March 2012 : Like a herd of cows let out into the fields for the first time after winter, I was let loose on a bit of clipping and shaping yesterday for the first time this year, and what fun I had. Overgrown evergreens are always fun - so much can be achieved very quickly, and then added to over the next year… Read More

bay trees

Spring Clean

15th March 2012 : Yesterday was spring cleaning day - basically the floor of my truck is my tool bag over the year, but there is in fact a bag that most of it fits in. So out it all came. An hour later, all was cleaned, oiled and sharpened, ready for battle. Back row, from left: Masamune shears, Tobisho shears, 2… Read More

Niwaki pruning kit

Bed Time Taxonomy

14th March 2012 : Conversation last night at bed time with Digby, who was three in January: me: what did Daddy do today? him: pruning. me: what was I pruning? him: Phillyrea. Clever little so-and-so, but I didn't have the heart to tell him that actually it was Arbutus, not Phillyrea (and anyway the very mention of… Read More


Open For Business

29th February 2012 : Read More

open for business

Yeovil Schmovil - but not this time.

27th February 2012 : Driving through Yeovil the other day - a town not noted for it's arboreal pleasures - I passed a row of recently pollarded, and really rather fine, plane trees. I'd noticed them many times before over the years, but since I've known them this is the firt time they've had a haircut. What with the… Read More


A good load

21st February 2012 : A good load of trees ready for delivery. Osaka, last year. And what about the trays of bedding?! The biggy at the front with yellow berries is Ilex integra (dai mochi), there's a Querucs phillyreoides behind it (ubamegashi) and possibly a Myrica rubra (yamamomo) with the double trunk. Read More

truck crane

Hedge Laying Competition

14th February 2012 : Sunday saw the Blackmore Vale Hunt hedge laying competition near Yetminster. We moysed on over - well, Digby and I - to witness it, but rather than bore you with pictures of hedges being hacked to pieces, here is a competitor, a homemade wooden mallet, and a car boot. A closer look confirms that… Read More

car boot

Red Pine Pruning at the Furukawa Nursery

8th February 2012 : During our visit to Japan last autumn I dropped in on the Furukawa nursery in Kannan cho, Osaka, where I trained more than ten years ago. Furukawa grow a wide range of trees, and are well known for, amongst other things,their sequoias and olives, but it's the red pines we're here for today, Pinus… Read More

japanese red pine

Tree Patterns

1st February 2012 : Getting the house nice and warm today, I came across this bit of fire wood with an interesting pattern of some insect. Read More

tree pattern

What the?

30th January 2012 : Imagine you're sitting on a bench on a summer's day, when suddenly a vast drill emerges from out of the ground behind you, from the centre of the earth, forcing its way up through the trees. Imagine that this drill was not metal, as you would expect, but a YEW DRILL, and what's more, slightly… Read More

spiral yew

Horny? Blimey!

29th January 2012 : Two recent journeys in Wiltshire threw up some interesting trees - first a row of what I thought at the time were hornbeams, perhaps once a hedge but now a fine row of trees. Looking again, I think I was basing my assumption on the trunks - hornbeams have that nice fluted look - but not so sure… Read More

hornbeam hedge?


20th January 2012 : Read More


Beech woods in the middle of a hedge

9th January 2012 : I've had this pic on my computer for a few months now, and keep coming back to it. It's beech hedge. I'm not entirely sure what has happened to it, but it looks like the builders, being builders, decided to hack back one section to do a spot of building, and the plants then re-grew into this.  I… Read More

beech hedge

Now Hiring

3rd January 2012 : Niwaki are opening a new business venue in Shaftesbury (SP7) and need 2-3 days a week help, possibly growing to a full time position in May. Work will include taking and processing phone and internet sales, invoicing, packaging, loading and unloading - and there is plenty of scope for the right… Read More

niwaki shop

Dai Sugi

2nd January 2012 : Happy New Year. Hope everyone has a great 2012 It's no secret that I'm slightly obsessed with dai sugi - the weird semi-coppiced Cryptomeria they grow around Kyoto. Here, to welcome the New Year, is a little restaurant we passed while exploring temples in the hills to the south of Kyoto last… Read More

dai sugi

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