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     Marijke & Piet.

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Pilgrimage: Ofuda (御札 charm, talisman), a shrine or a temple seal

A popular custom is to buy a blank booklet at the beginning of the pilgrimage and have a calligraphy named 'Ofuda', painted in it, at each of the temples (1). It is believed that one after one's death, when one can show this booklet to the deity at the gate of heaven, one obtains permission to enter heaven immediately regardless of one's sins. This is how we knew that the Japanese on their pilgrimage along temples and shrines have a booklet in which they, at every temple, ask a priest or monk to (after a small donation) calligraphy the temple name, date etc. and put the temple stamps in the booklet.


The place where this is done is called Nokyosho. At the first temple we visited (in May 1991) we bought our selves such hard-bound silk cover booklet and, although we where primarily interested in the gardens, we had it "signed" at each and every temple.

To us this booklet now is a precious trinket full of good memories and you never know if it may come in handy after all.

These photo's give a impression of our "temple booklet" with Ofuda´s.

The name of the shrine in the centre and the date of the visit on the left. The date is written top to bottom: year - month and day. Some of the "calligraphy" is produced by a stamp rather than man made. 

Down: This is the monk who drew the first ofuda in our temple-book in the Benzaiten shrine, Inokashira Park, Tokyo.  

As an example, The Shikoku Henro, one of the oldest pilgrimages in Japan. This pilgrimage which is located on the mountainous, southern island of Shikoku, covers a distance of almost one thousand miles and takes the pilgrim along 88 temples.
The traditional way to do the pilgrimage is on foot, in white pilgrim clothes, shaven-headed, following the Buddhist precepts as closely as possible, and performing the usual rituals at all of the 88 temples. Apart from the white pilgrim clothes each pilgrim has a traditional Japanese straw hat, a wooden walking stick symbolizing Kôkai (in Japanese this custom is called dôgyô ninin: the pilgrim is accompanied on his way by Kôkai, who protects him), and a small white bag containing items like a small prayer book, a kesa (surplice), a tiny bell, incense, and a rosary.

A Pilgrimage to 108 Japanese Temples and Shikoku Japan 88 Route Guide.

Literature and  Books that can be of interest to the "Japanese" gardener. 

Although one needs to stay alert because some clerk may try to push a stamp on one of your pages, some of these calligraphy's are genuine pieces of art. Below some of the "stamps only" seal.  


A forced recess: Infective or bacterial Endocarditis

The garden has seen one of its poorest years ever. Initially.
At the end of the year all looks good again. During the first half year of 2014 my wife had to do the maintenance on here own. During the second half of the year I gradually gained control again. Not only about the garden bud also about my life.

Just after my 60-sixt birthday in September 2013 and my early retirement, thinks went terrible wrong with my health. Too tired, little appetite, an irritating cough and even a faint.
A round Christmas I got a number of health complains. But then, in these days you don't want to go to your general practitioner. Until it really got bad during early January. My weight had dropped about 10 kg (22 Pounts) in a few months and my blood values where bizarre. During the first quarter of 2014 I frequently got into the hospital for a number of examinations. Prostate, intestine, stomach, gullit, longs and more. Noting suspicious.
A thorax-scan was planned in the last week of March. This was a sort of last hope to trace the organ guilty of all the complaints.

It never came this far.
On March 19 around six hour clock, during the meal, my wife realized that I could not eat and then not talk. Also none of my right site limbs no longer functioned. I only remember vaguely that my wife helped me into our car and that she brought me into the hospital with a wheelchair. Then I waked up in the middle of the night.
Then it toke a couple of day's to find out that I was in the wrong department of the hospital. Although I had a a cerebral- or brain-haemorrhage (Dutch: hersenbloeding) do real problem was a Bacterial Endocarditis. Later we found out that this was a very critical week and a half or so.

Infective or bacterial Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of my heart resulting in damaged heart valves (Dutch: streptocokken). At the same time (19 march 2014) a cerebral infarction and/or brain haemorrhage (Dutch: hersenbloeding/herseninfarct) resulted in aphasia (Dutch: afasie).

After the specific bacteria causing the endocarditis was identified from my blood culture tests, a course of intravenous (IV) antibiotic therapy was started. IV antibiotics was given for as long as 7 weeks to control the infection. Symptoms where monitored throughout therapy and blood tests where performed to determine the effectiveness of treatment.
This was no fun. The therapy was day and night. All this extra liquid let me to piss every one or two hours minimum. Until I got a bladder infection, that let me piss every half our. But I survived.
During the second half of 2014 I got regular therapy for logopedia and this brought me where I am to day.
Initially the heart valve damage was substantial. Surgery was required to fix the heart valve and improve heart function. However. Due to the cerebral infarction the risk was, and is, regarded as too high. I feel great and, with some restrictions, I can do what I want to do, including all garden activity. In particular enjoy the garden and nature.

And how got this bacteria into my hart? Well, for sure we now know that it got there during a treatment of a root canal in 2006.

Disclaimer: The garden is still one of my passions. Unfortunately due to the cerebral infarction/brain-haemorrhage I now have a aphasia. This improved substantially in the course of the last year. I am sure that I will never be the same person. Listening is just fine. Talking is more difficult and takes more time. Perhaps no more philosophical discussions like the old day's. But with some patiences that is still possible. Writing and reading is also more difficult. This means that I will continue this Blog and maintain the website. You will have to be patient because updates will be less frequent. Also you have to be forgiving with regard to my writing even with spell-checking.

Buxus disease, Box Blight? Cylindrocladium Buxicola, continued

O-karikomi BoxBlight in November 2009

In Buxus disease, Box Blight? Problem with box topiary I wrote about a new, at the time the latest, buxus problem in our garden. Now, about three years later, we know that this is a problem that is here to stay and will not easily go away.

In 2002, the cause of a new box blight disease was confirmed to be a new fungal species called Cylindrocladium buxicola. Box blight caused by Cylindrocladium buxicolais (also Pseudonaviculatum Volutella buxi) is now widespread throughout The Netherlands and Europe. In The Netherlands it was first seen around 2005 where the genetic-group G2 was identified. The fungus now pops up around the globe so be warned!

An important mode of spread of the disease in gardens has been through the introduction of apparently healthy Buxusmaterial carrying the disease into gardens or nurseries. Nurseries have access to a wide range of fungicides that may suppress the disease rather than killing the fungus. If the fungus stops spreading this photo shows the end-result in close-up.

Cylindrocladium buxicola fungus, final stage

This new fungus proved resistant to most of the agents available of which only few are available to consumers like us.

I now started using a new fungicide developed by Bayer. It is named Bayer Twist plus spray and has double agents: 0,125 g/l tebuconazool and 0,125 g/l  trifloxystrobine.

BayerGarden Twist-Plus spray

This is not meant to promote this stuff but rather to inform you that it is available and may also be a solution to your problem. Well, the latter has yet to be proven in our garden, but still.

It is important to sanitize equipment and tools regularly and to separately destroy infected debris.  Although one advice is to maintain adequate spacing between plants to promote air circulation, that is no option for us.

This article in the Journal of Plant Pathology (2008), 90 (3), 581-584 describes the disease and its spread throughout Europe.

References: The control of Cylindrocladium buxicola, Buxus disease, Box Blight? Problem with box topiary


Resurrection of our Wisteria sinensis

Wisteria-sinensis 1st re-bloom in 2013


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Book review: Niwaki by Jake Hobson



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Front-garden gravel-area restoration

Box-roots in the gravel area+-*

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Winter season-impression: Weather-Gods garden-art

Snow-topped ripples in raked-gravel+-*

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Our Ulmus parvifolia (Elm-tree) got Dutch elm disease


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What tools to use to trim Buxus topiary shrubs?


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Frost damage 2011/2012, final damage report


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