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2013 Blog Posts



22nd December 2013 : Thanks to everyone who has supported Niwaki this year Have a GREAT CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR We're back in action on Monday 6th Jaunary, 2014   Read More


Everyone loves Komomaki - but do they work?

9th December 2013 : Browsing through The Japan Times, as one does, I came across this article I liked the bit at the end, saying it's done more as a seasonal marker than for pest control. Very Japanese.   Read More


Lather Up!

6th December 2013 :   Read More

Lather Up!

Never Knowingly In Stock of Everything at Once

4th December 2013 : It's not something we pride ourselves in, but it does seem that, due to the vagaries of ocean frieght, the hand-forged production techniques of some of our suppliers, and fab bits of press appearing in the papers at short notice - combined with Jake's general reluctance to spend money, there is… Read More

Underwear, Eyewear & Secateurs

30th November 2013 : There are three things worth spending money on in life - underwear, eyewear and secateurs. That's according to Matthew Wilson's granny at least! Nice shout for our Tobisho secateurs by Matthew in the FT House and Home section today.   Read More


29th November 2013 : Another image from a great Japanese blog that makes me feel young and cool.   Read More


Alan Titchmarsh: a cut above

26th November 2013 : Nice to see Alan Titchmarsh using our Tobisho Secateurs in the Gardeners' World mag Read More

Alan Titchmarsh: a cut above

So much for sharp shiny stuff

22nd November 2013 : These Birdie Paper Knives seem to be going down well this winter. We've just got them in in white too.   Read More

birdie paper knife

Which Secateurs?

20th November 2013 : Choosing a pair of secateurs from Niwaki should be pretty straight forward: they're all great, and obviously, the more expensive they are, the greater they are. Here are some more helpful pointers though: Short answer: for most people, the decision is Okatsune or Tobisho. If you are the kind of… Read More

Which Secateurs?

Rather Splendid

15th November 2013 : Rather Splendid Not quite sure if this is contorta or some variety, but rather a splendid ash tree nevertheless, as I was bumbling round Somerset today dodging tractors. Read More

Pasties with the Mann

15th November 2013 : I enjoyed a delicious pasty (probably Cornish, but technically from Wiltshire I think) with Nick and Caroline Mann of Habitat Aid today. Habitat Aid is 'a one-stop resource for creating sustainable landscapes and delivering biodiversity'. They sell our hori horis, and lots more, and Nick is a… Read More

Pasties with the Mann.

May or November?

8th November 2013 : May or November? It’s hard to say, because it’s never May and November at the same time, but I think, sometimes, I prefer November. Perhaps. Read More

Not in the Brochure One or two things didn’t make it into...

7th November 2013 : Not in the Brochure One or two things didn’t make it into the new Niwaki brochure - places were limited and competition was fierce. This curious little thing, the Kangaroo Pouch is actually half marsupial and half octopus, with it’s suckerey back that sticks to bathroom surfaces. Handy drainage… Read More

Fields, tree pruning, Landrovers, dogs. Much more fun than a day...

6th November 2013 : Fields, tree pruning, Landrovers, dogs. Much more fun than a day in the office. The sun even came out for a minute or two. The Cupressus glabra are starting to look good. Read More

It’s here!

5th November 2013 : It’s here! Read More

To be continued.

17th October 2013 : To be continued. Read More

Thoughts on Cupressus Clipping

1st November 2013 : You need: - Cupressus sempervirens - a good ladder, preferably a Niwaki Tripod Ladder - some good shears, in this case 30" Okatsune jobs - secateurs for cutting out woody stuff - a dry day (there's a lot of looking up, and it's bad enough with clippings hitting you in the face and going down your… Read More

Cupressus Clipping

Phillyrea Latifolia - not for the first time

29th October 2013 : Nothing stirs a man's loins quite like a Phillyrea latifolia - that's what they say down in Dorset at least, and following a tip-off from Paul Stickland, illustrator, artist and side-burn wearer (explore him here: we swung by Fifehead Magdalen to admire this beauty… Read More

Phillyrea Latifolia 1

Josh's Legs (and a Nata)

27th October 2013 : Continuing the teaser for the oh-so-close-now release of the new Niwaki brochure, here are Josh's legs, with a Kanenori Nata and a rather fine belt buckle. And below that, just to spice things up a little, Elliott's bum (and a double holster). Read More

Josh's Legs (and a Nata)

Steph's Legs (and a spade)

22nd October 2013 : More legs. This time they're Steph's - veg grower extraodinaire. Have you tried the amazing GOLDEN SPADE yet?    Read More

Steph's Legs (and a spade)


19th October 2013 : Last weekend Digby and I explored our local goyle (you have to be in West Dorset or Devon to really know goyles - they're basically ditches between fields, within hedges, populated by bandits, badgers, imps and other dark mysteries.) Who cares about gardening when there's goyling?   Read More


Job Done

18th October 2013 : A most satisfying few days in Frome. Thanks to Charlie and his gang at Tree Research. Charlie Noton.   Read More

Job Done

Lull before the storm

16th October 2013 : Here's Micky, in the lull before the storm.    Read More

okatsune shears

Tim's Legs

15th October 2013 : If this isn't enough to get you excited, I don't know what is. Tim was giving a row of apple trees a summer prune when we visited for the brochure shoot, and kindly agreed to pose. Niwaki Tripod Ladders have been selling like hotcakes recently, partly because Monty Don has been using his on… Read More

Tim's Legs

2014 Teaser

11th October 2013 : As you've probably guessed, we're getting pretty excited - stoked, you could say - about the new brochure. It isn't technically ready yet, but it's mighty close. As a teaser, we'd like to introduce the players. We had a fab day at a client's garden with photographer James Bowden. Not everyone who… Read More

2014 Teaser

2015: the end of the Defender

9th October 2013 : Very sad to hear that Landrover are pulling the plug on the Defender in 2015 (because of legislation, needless to say). Will have to start saving for another - maybe a 110 Utility Wagon...! Read More

2015: the end of the Defender

Heads Up - 2014 brochure

9th October 2013 : We're sending off the 2014 Niwaki brochure to the printers today, after a week of exhausting typo spotting (I think they come out at night, little devils). We ran out early this year, and have been re-using the excess from last year, which is getting really confusing for us and for customers! If… Read More

Heads Up


8th October 2013 : The apples are glorious this year - these are Jonogolds at the end of Mum's apple tunnel. Actually it's cheating, as it's an old photo - they were glorious then too!   Read More


Cloudy Box in the Big Smoke

5th October 2013 : Ahh, the leafy streets of London. God I hate them, the constant rebuilds and all that they involve, and the incessant whine of two-stroke leaf blowers. Which is why it was such a joy to get to work in one of Declan Buckley's north London projects, this wild, woodlandy garden surrounding a modern… Read More

Cloudy Box in the Big Smoke 1

It's been a good September

29th September 2013 : September's been a cracker. Mum's border, always nice in the autumn, is on fire. It's always worth a late clip on the box, for just such an occassion. Read More

It's been a good September

Hoe Hoe Hoe

28th September 2013 : We saw our first minced pies in an unnamed supermarket last week, so it doesn’t feel too early to make  bad jokes like this, but if you object, how about Heigh Hoe, Heigh Hoe, it’s off to work we go...  Anyway, we’re happy to announce that if you order both the Japanese Forked Hoe and the Japanese… Read More

Hoe Hoe Hoe

Mr Koto has retired!

23rd September 2013 : Mr Koto has retired- that's great news for us! Koto-san makes these beautiful little knives, but until Friday he was also in Japan's Self Defence Force, and he could never keep up with demand. Now it's home to the workshop for him, and lots more knives for us. Hoorah! Read More

Mt Koto has retired!

Trees in the Middle of Fields - on the Way to Veddw

22nd September 2013 : Driving through Herefordshire, and on into Monmouthshire yesterday evening, in glorious end-of-day sun - on my way to Veddw, Anne Wareham and Charles Hawes' garden.  Read More

Trees in the Middle of Fields

Blobby Box and Cloudy Yew

19th September 2013 : The yew has just had its clip - it's a work in progress but taking shape nicely.    Read More

Blobby Box and Cloudy Yew


16th September 2013 : Terrific for small, dainty pruning - that's what Carol Klein said about our Okatsune Snips. Check them out - they're only 12 quid:   Read More


Come Back, Sun

15th September 2013 : Revisiting our trip to Provence. Read More

pont du gard olives

Oldie, but Goodie

13th September 2013 : Just found this lovely review of my Niwaki book, can't resist sharing it... 31 March 2011 Message: Jake,  I just had to take a moment to send you a note to compliment you on your fabulous book, "Niwaki: Pruning, Shaping and Training Trees the Japanese Way".  I am finding this book fascinating, and… Read More

Atop a 10 footer

12th September 2013 : Here's Nick, tending to some lovely holm oak drums-on-sticks, atop a 10' Niwaki Tripod Ladder. Not very happy with his choice of shears, but they seem to do a good job. Read More

Atop a 10 footer

Shapton Glass Series Whetstones

8th September 2013 : New, just in. Shapton Glass Series Whetstones now at Niwaki! Arguably the best ceramic stones available. Here's what Andrew Juniper, big cheese at Wabi Sabi, reckons: "Having used Shapton sharpening stones sourced from Japan for several… Read More

Shapton Glass Series Whetstones

Nekko Vase

7th September 2013 : Introducing some new bits and pieces to the Niwaki range, kicking off with the Nekko Vase - not what you might be expecting:   Read More

Nekko Vase

Niwaki Photo Shoot

26th August 2013 : We've been hard at work adding new features to the Niwaki website this summer. A lot of it is behind the scenes, and should make everything run smoother, but we've also added a comments section on each page, including the blog - so if you have anything to say, now's your chance! We're also working… Read More

Niwaki Photoshoot

If you could be a row of trees, what would you rather be?

11th August 2013 : Here's a conundrum, developed over a few days in France: if you could be a row of trees, what would you rather be? I ended up with planes. But Pinus pinea ran a close second.   Read More

plane avenue

Cloud Pruned ilex opaca

2nd August 2013 : On my visit to Rhode Island last week I was taken to this amazing garden, with fab Ilex opaca (the biggies) Japanese pines, and a cedar trained as a sort of wall-trained cloudy thing - not sure what the technical term is. Nice yew hand round the corner.   Read More

Cloud Pruned ilex opaca

Sakonnet Garden

31st July 2013 : Just back from a weekend workshop at Sakonnet Garden in Little Compton, Rhode Island with John Gwynne and Mikel Folcarelli. The garden was amazing (not that my photos do it justice) with lots of trees and pruning and training everywhere.  Read More

Sakonnet Garden

Gardeners World

30th July 2013 : Charlotte Molesworth was hard at work on Gardeners World last Friday, using Tobisho Topiary Clippers (referrred to as 'dear little snips') Okatsune Shears and an original, first generation 6' Niwaki tripod ladder (early adopters got the step on the back leg) (Images taken from iplayer) Read More

Gardeners World topiary

Organic Topiary

30th June 2013 : As much as I love Japanese gardens, I'm not particularly obsessed with replicating them here. I'm more into experimenting with Japanese pruning within English gardens - like my Mum's here. Phillyrea latifolia and Laurus nobilis combining nicely with Eriobotrya, deciduous Elaeagnus, yuccas and more. Read More

Organic Topiary

In the thick of it

22nd June 2013 : With this non-starter of a summer, one good thing is the box clipping season started later, and seems to be in no rush to finish. Read More

cloudy box

Hole Artcenter, Norway

11th June 2013 : Just back from a weekend pine pruning workshop with Åsmund Bergwitz at the Hole Artcenter.  Much fun was had, incuding a quick trip to a quarry where Åsmund picks out his rocks. The owner showed us 10,000 year old peat from the quarry, with remains of equisetum that looked like it had come… Read More

Åsmund Bergwitz

Box Clipping

4th June 2013 : People like to say that Derby Day (Epsom, not Kentucky) is the day to clip box, or at least the green light to get started. Derby Day was Saturday (Ruler of the World, 7-1, by a length and a half, in case you missed it - I did) so one ought, in theory, to be hard a-clipping by now, on these nice… Read More

Box Clipping

Whichford Pottery

23rd May 2013 : I was trundling around Warwickshire yesterday, looking for things that had grown enough to need pruning (NOTHING needs pruning yet) when I stumbled across Whichford Pottery, the maker of lovely garden pots. I know Harriet, the head gardener, and I'm doing an event there in July (19/20) with Angus… Read More

Whichford Pottery

Polar Ice

11th May 2013 : New in the At Home Section: Read More

Polar Ice

Today in the FT

11th May 2013 :   Great piece in the FT today by Matthew Wilson, 'Gardeners dig online for ideas'. Guess what they found? Read More

Today in the FT

Niwaki Do Hankies

29th April 2013 : Bet you never knew we did hankies. Well, we call them hankachi, but it's close enough. Check out our new Fabrics page and marvel at the hankies and Tenugui. Read More

Niwaki Do Hankies

Standing Room Only

26th April 2013 : Don't miss the SGD Spring Conference tomorrow at Imperial College London. It's going to be a fascinating day: Matthew Wilson, Clive Nichols, John Wyer and I are talking about Maintaining the Vision. Read More

Standing Room Only

Call a plug a plug.

24th April 2013 : Have look at The Rivendell Garden blog and read John Kingdon's pleasing comments about our Golden Spade Read More

When is a plug not a plug?

Some are Leaves, Some are Shoots...

10th April 2013 : ... but Silky Gomtaro Nekiri cuts the roots. (as Bob Marley would have sung, had his interests extended to rootballing) Just about the toughest blade imaginable on this critter, made to put up with the grit and stones encountered on subterannean root cutting expeditions Check it out here Read More

silky root saw

Niwaki Tripod Ladder on Gardeners World

30th March 2013 : Very excited to see our 10' Niwaki Tripod Ladder get a run out on Gardeners World last night!   Read More

Here We Build Round The Mulberry Tree

27th March 2013 : Love the way they pollard the mulberries in Athens, leaving these little fingerey extensions on top. Not sure which came first - the tree or the awning...   And check out the Series Landrover peeking out at the back! Read More

Here We Build Round The Mulberry Tree

Niwaki Crayons!

26th March 2013 : Feeling very pleased with ourselves, as we've just got in a big stash of Sakura Cray-Pas crayons, in their retro boxes.  See them here We've also got 12 packs of more Mitsubishi Hi-Uni pencils, so we now do 2H,H,HB,2B,4B,6B,8B, as well as the awesome Art Sets.   Read More

Niwaki Crayons!

Job Vacancy

26th March 2013 : There's a job vacancy at Niwaki HQ in Shaftesbury! We need someone for 2 (possibly three) days a week, starting soon. - Taking, processing, packing and dispatching orders. - Talking to customers on the phone and greeting visitors. - Using a computer - all the usual stuff. - Working alone. - 9:00 -… Read More

Greek Silhouettes

21st March 2013 : For your pleasure: Read More

2 trees

A Few days in Greece

19th March 2013 : We've been in Greece for the last few days - me on a pruning job in Athens; wife, child, Granny and Grandpa along for the ride. Amongst other things, I pruned a Pittosporum tobira, saw Phillyrea latifolia growing in the wild, did some guerilla pruning demonstrations on Aleppo pines in the… Read More

aleppo pines

This is what they mean by grubbing out an orchard

10th March 2013 : I've always heard the term 'grubbing out an orchard' and the other say got a chance to see it in action. The trees - apples, I guess - had been chopped to stumps, and this huge telehandler set about ripping them out like they were leeks.  Read More

grubbing out an orchard

Beech Circle

9th March 2013 : Last weekend's mosey around Exmoor revealed this rather impressive Beech circle. Wonder who planted it, and why. Read More

Beech Circle

Exmoor Hedge

5th March 2013 : Pottering around Exmoor the other day - as one does - I rediscovered the amazing beech hedges of the area. This one had been laid some time ago, and was now being thinned. I love it! Field side: Road side: Read More

Exmoor Hedge 1

Exploding Irish Yew!

3rd March 2013 : I've mentioned the problems of exploding Irish Yew before (like here: but this is one of the more extreme cases I've come across. Irish yew, if you're not in the know, is the fastigiate form of Taxus baccata. A lovely tree, that also makes… Read More

Irish Yew Explosion!

Finger Lickin'

1st March 2013 : Jake in Kentucky has sent over these great images of cloud pruned box! Read More

cloud pruned box

Supernatural Slicing

22nd February 2013 :  Offer runs until 28th feb 2013. Read More

Supernatural Slicing

Anselm Kiefer landscapes at Von Ehren Nursery

22nd February 2013 : Up near Hamburg at the Lorenz Von Ehren nusery - golly it was cold. Had the feeling of an Anselm Kiefer painting to it. BESsBESsBESsBESsBESsBESsBESsBESsBESsBESsBESsBESs   Read More

anselm kiefer

NIfty Knifework in the Niwaki Kitchen

8th February 2013 : We had Japanese cook Teruko Chagrin round the other day, doing some nifty knife work with some Japanese food. She had all sorts of tricks up her (lovely Japanese fabric) sleeves, including dying the rice pink with beetroot juuice to make seasonal camellia flower sushi rolls.You can visit Teruko's… Read More

japanese knife

Niwaki Now Hiring

4th February 2013 : It's job time again. Niwaki are looking for someone to work in the Shaftesbury office and warehouse, 2-3 days a week, answering the phone, taking, processing and packing orders, dazzling customers with their efficiency and enthusiasm, and hopefully being in possession of some amazing skill that… Read More

Shears 2013

30th January 2013 : The warmer weather, and a sunny morning, got me tidying up all my pruning stuff. This is the current shears line-up for  the 2013 season.  The two on the left are on trial from Kanenori.   Read More

niwaki shear

Back of a van

25th January 2013 : A customer came to visit today, and I caught a glimpse of the inside of his van - strangely lacking in Niwaki tools, which is something we soon put right - but rather fantastic nevertheless.   Read More

back of a van

There's never been a better time to buy a spade

25th January 2013 : Yep, buy a Golden Spade before the end of the month and we chuck in pair of the fab little Okatsune Snips for free. We've even had a swanky box made up especially. Be quick though - we're running low on snips!   Retweet, Share, and Forward at will! Read More

golden spade

Just near the revolving sushi restaurant Kurazushi

23rd January 2013 : Just near the revolving sushi restaurant Kurazushi (that's revolving, not revolting)in Kawachinagano lies this cracker of a front yard. They don't have snow in Osaka at the moment, but they make up for it with an extra helping of overhead cables. Read More

japanese garden

Tripod Ladders in the US

22nd January 2013 : More than a little bit pleased with ourselves: we've finally got Tripod Ladders back into the US. Check them out here come and see us at the 2013 Landscape Industry Show in LA next month.   Read More

tripod ladders

Mt Fuji in the snow

21st January 2013 : (photo and artwork by Keiko)   Read More

mt fuji

Something for the weekend

18th January 2013 : Continuing the yew theme, here's a rather impressive yew trunk at Middle Chinnock church. In 1997 it ( actaully she) had a girth of 490 cm at 130cm high. That's over 16'. Check out the Ancient Yew Group for info. Read More

middle chinnock yew

The Yew Wood

16th January 2013 : A quick winter recce yesterday to the yew wood on Hambledon Hill in Dorset. Not quite as imposing as Kingley Vale in Sussex, but extraordinary nevertheless. This next one is a panorama shot from my phone. Read More

yew wood

Left Handed Tobisho Secateurs

14th January 2013 : Calling all left handers - we managed to persuade Tobisho to knock out a few left handed versions of their secateurs. They cost a bit more (and feel decidedly odd if you ask me) and are available here:   Compare the two, the left ones are on… Read More

left handed tobisho pruners

Japanese Hillside Nursey

13th January 2013 : Japanese tree nurseries come in all shape and form - the main common factor being that trees are always field grown. It's not unusual to find an empty house lot in a village given over to pine trees, or neatly divided paddy fields interrupted by a field of Podocarpus macrophyllus. The Furukawa… Read More

hillside nursery in Japan

CBeebies: the tree pruner's bible

6th January 2013 : CBeebies, channel 71 on Freeview, never ceases to impress me with its rendering of trees in the landscapes of shows like Baby Jake, Mike the Knight, and Roary the Racing Car (actually that's on another channel, not sure which, possibly 5). In the introduction to my book Niwaki, I urged readers to… Read More

baby jake

Nice Beech/Yew combo

5th January 2013 : A350. On the way back from an afternoon walk on Hambledon Hill.  Read More

beech and yew hedge 1

Pines and Palms

4th January 2013 : Moroto Gardens, Kuwana. Japan. Could do with some of that sun. Read More

pine and palm

Squeezing more from our autumnal exploration of Nara

3rd January 2013 : Mention Nara and most people think the big buddha at Todai-ji, the park, the deer, Kasuga Taisha, and if they're into gardens, perhaps places like Yoshikien and Isuien, all in Nara city. Very few people get the chance to explore the rest of Nara - Nara prefecture, which is a shame as it's loaded… Read More

monk's garden

3 x 3 = 9

1st January 2013 : Just got this great pic from Claudia Arlinghaus, of one of the pines at Korakuen in Okayama, post-prune. Thanks Claudia. (it's dated 21st September, btw.) photo © Heinrich Arlinghaus Reminded me of this one I saw on our last visit. Read More

3 tripod ladders

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