Nemawashi in November
We recently welcomed a few new members to the team, perhaps the most Niwaki* of us all: a family of pine trees, nurtured and pruned for many years by Jake at the top secret Niwaki equivalent of Area 51, transported to Semley by Niwaki Will and now immeasurably improving the otherwise drab exterior of the Niwaki HQ warehouse.
There’s a Japanese word for moving trees: nemawashi. In fact, nemawashi has a slightly more specific meaning: it literally means digging around or turning the roots, which, obviously, is what you need to do if you want to move a tree, but it also implies a level of care and respect for the all-important subterranean structure of the tree.
Some Japanese gardeners might even go so far as to prepare the new location by transporting a quantity of soil, in advance, from the old site to the new.
If this sounds a bit much, consider the recent discoveries by mycologists like Merlin Sheldrake and Paul Stamets concerning the vital importance of fungal networks to the health of forests (sometimes known as the “Wood Wide Web”) and it starts to sound less like animistic superstition and a lot more like sensible tree care.
Always interesting when traditions with murky, seemingly irrational origins turn out to be scientifically verifiable, don’t you think?
Nemawashi is also another one of those terms that has been co-opted into business speak. If a company is planning any major change, the process of consultation before the final direction has been decided and implemented could be described as a process of nemawashi.
If you’re planning a big family get-together this Christmas you might engage in a little nemawashi yourself: calling your brother to tell him not to mention that regrettable incident last summer, warning your parents that young Jimmy now has pink hair and a nose ring and gently reminding Great Aunt Doris that we don’t use those words anymore: all the groundwork needed to make the big day pass without a hitch.
Anyway, back to gardens: please enjoy some photos of the team in action, and if you would like to know more, treat yourself to a copy of The Niwaki Book: Pruning, Training, and Shaping Trees the Japanese Way by our very own Jake Hobson.
Perhaps you’ll spot the new arrivals if you come to the Niwaki Open Day at Niwaki HQ Showroom (No.7 Chaldicott Barns) on Saturday 26 November (10am–2pm)? Find out more: www.niwaki.com/shows/
*Niwaki means ‘garden tree’, but you probably already knew that.