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4.7 out of 5 stars21
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 28 January 2011
This is book is quite simply superb. I bought it yesterday and finished it in one sitting by bedtime. Jake writes with authority, having learned his skills in a nursery in Japan, and delivers a fascinating yet practical account of the importance of the pruned landscape in Japanese gardens. Niwaki literally means "garden tree" and is, in effect, the garden-planted equivalent of bonsai. Japanese terms are helpfully explained and it was intriguing to read that the term "cloud pruning" is really no more than western marketing-speak: there IS no Japanese equivalent! Similarly, the expensive pruned Ilex crenata bushes that we see down the garden centre with a several thousand pound price tag are infrequently used in Japan (there are more interesting plants to use) but essentially designed for the export market (shades of all that Imari porcelain made in the 19th c for the European market, I think). The book is lavishly illustrated with many high-quality colour photos and lots of drawings to show how to undertake the various pruning techniques. There are sections on the evolution of niwaki, the distinctions between formal garden and pruning in a temple garden versus a smaller domestic garden, a whole chapter on pruning pines, and chapters on pruning deciduous trees such as acers and evergreens such as cammelias. What I particularly like is Jake's philosophy; few people in the UK are going to create a true Japanese garden, so better to adopt and adapt Japanese elements to our garden settings and the range of plants that grow best in our gardens. For a start, our gardens may already be full of suitable plants of Japanese origins such as azaleas, rhodos, acers etc. All they need is a sympathetic clipping. Also, as he points out, we already have a great tradition of shaping trees in the forms of our fruit trees and topiary, so it's a small step to developing a Japanese pruning approach to plants such as box or yew in our gardens.

A good companion for this book would be "Garden Plants of Japan" by Ran Levy-Yamamori and Gerard Taaffe. This 400+ page encyclopedia of trees, shrubs, grasses and climbers has little on Niwaki techinique, but is well illustrated and describes which species or cultivars are suitable for pruning, hardiness etc.
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on 16 September 2009
The Japanese word "niwaki" literally means "garden tree" and Jake Hobson's survey of the subject fills a gap in the existing literature. Hobson describes the importance of landscape in Japanese culture and how Japanese gardeners and (perhaps more importantly) nurserymen abstract features of the landscape and reproduce those features in the garden.

He also supplies a brief overview of the essential elements common to all Japanese art forms: assymetry, simplicity, austere sublimity, naturalness, subtle profundity, freedom from attachment and tranquillity. Hobson shows, with the aid of some beautiful photographs, how these features inform Japanese use of trees within the garden.

Much space is devoted to detailed descriptions of the techniques employed and species of trees and shrubs used.

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who wanted to impart a Japanese feel to his or her own garden.
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on 24 November 2011
I am so very glad that I purchased this book! The word beauty got an added meaning for me.It gives you everything you need to know about prunning trees the japanese way, the type of prunning for different trees and is very beautifully illustrated. You must have this if you really want to create a japanese garden.It is more than a book, it soothes my soul because it shows me beautiful things
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on 7 March 2011
At last - the book I've been looking for although I didn't know it until I got it. This is how I've tried to work, it is excellent and full of interesting info about Japan as well as clear details on pruning. Love it. Thanks Jake.
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on 4 August 2012
I bought this book because I missed out on a work shop "holiday comitment" I am really pleased with it and would recomend this literature it is very imformative and clear to follow. Thank you Jake, PS bought the sacatures too
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on 11 February 2014
Lovely book with bags of info. and wonderful pictures. Great book with lots of helpful instruction. Great to browse through with a cup of coffee. Whether I ever get round to picking up secateurs is another matter!!
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on 12 May 2014
A fascinating book. Very informative. Will try putting some ideas into practice. A good mix of fact, advice and motivation.
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on 3 October 2012
Very informative but worth buying for the beautiful pictures alone. I am going to give this special pruning a try.
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on 5 December 2010
Highly recommended,if not essential reading, for anyone making or maintaining a Japanese garden. Trimming and training trees and bushes in the garden is central to giving it that Japanese atmosphere. Simply planting a maple, azalea or pine and letting it grow on its own will not achieve the same effect. This book is an excellent starting point.
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on 14 September 2015
I think this is a great book for anyone interested in shaping trees and shrubs, very easy step by step guide to shaping trees and shrubs.I love Japanese gardens,and this book gives me the confidence to have a go at shaping some of my trees and shrubs.Very pleased with my purchase.
Thank you Amazon.
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