Welcome to the Tsubo-en diary. Thanks for stopping by and reading. If you have any questions feel free to email us or post in the comment sections of one of the posts you'll find here.
     Marijke & Piet.

Year round activities by month

Tag search

Follow us

Slow Blog Button: Go to Manifesto discussion.

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

In Frost damage 2011/2012, final damage report I wrote about the frost-damage in our garden during the winter 2011/2012 and the subsequent growth and our attempts to give it a second life.

This frost damage was particularly sat with regard to our garden pride, the solitary Wisteria sinensis. Now the second season after the disaster, we have a very late spring. Temperatures have been far too low, lots of rain and little sun shine.

Now in the last week of may, we can make up the next damage report. The conclusion is that it survived.  It is not as good as I had hoped for a few weeks ago, but it is far better than we expected at the beginning of last year.

Wisteria-sinensis 1st re-bloom in 2013
The top flowers, although there are plenty buds, are not yet in bloom and will probably take an other week or two.

An other observation is the fact that the raceme are more open, having only halve the number of flowers each, and thus the flowers are far less dense than two years ago.

See earlier post: Abundant bloom of our Wisteria sinensis for the 2011 photo’s.

We are glad that it survived and the next years I0ll be working to get it back into a free standing “solitary tree” shape.

For comparison a May 2011 photo.

Wisteria-sinensis, May 2011

Book review: Niwaki by Jake Hobson

NiwakiNiwaki: Pruning, Training and Shaping Trees the Japanese Way by Jake Hobson, English language and published by Timber Press.

In [12] you find a book reference to “Niwaki”, (niwa ki) clipped and pruned garden trees, a book that we should have had right from the beginning.

Unfortunately at was not available at the time (1997/1998) we designed and started building the garden. Nonetheless, although late it is never too late for this kind of expert information. What we did use as a reference for trees initially, is a book on bonsai [13]. Most trees, shapes and techniques on training and pruning that apply to bonsai can also be applied to full-size niwaki. During selection of trees it is important to know how they will grow and show and need to be handled.

This well written and easy reading book may very well be the only western book that addresses these training, trimming and pruning techniques in such depth and detail. All simply explained supported by photo’s and drawings.

For all gardeners wanting to learn to prune in the Japanese style, this book is a must have.  Jake Hobson explains, in language that also non-natives to the English language can easily understand, how to prune, trim and train plants. He not only explains, but in the beginning chapters, gives insight into the essence of a Japanese Garden. This information will also help you understand what you want to accomplish designing your garden. In addition many Japanese terms and words related to trimming, training and pruning techniques are given and explained. For example: training like “twins”, sakanshitate, “bud pinching”, midoritsumi, “thinning”, momiage and so on.

The book is a must have for anyone just starting or like me trying to grasp the insight to make our garden have that essence only a Japanese Garden can evoke. There are so many books that show beautiful photos of “perfectly” styled Japanese garden trees.  This however, was and actually still is, helpful in describing how to start and achieve the look I was hoping for. Niwaki focuses on practical how-to methods. As a novice, with little Japanese gardening experience whatsoever, I tried many of Niwaki’s techniques that previously I was too intimidated to attempt. This book also told me that it is almost never too late by applying Fukinaoshi, “to re-do” overgrown trees.

Niwaki will save a lot of frustration otherwise caused by wrong, late or lack of treatment due to absence of the right maintenance instruction as can be found in this book.  I have bought many books to get the information I needed to create a garden in the Japanese style.  Niwaki has given me much information I was missing and a new insight into the development and maintenance of Japanese Gardens. The book shows that to give your garden a Japanese feel, it’s not the plants you use it is what you do with them. I am glad that or extensive use of Buxus (box) as a replacement for Azalea and Rhododendron, shows a solid prove of that. This bottom photo being the most promement example.

O-karikomi, Main garden
Related: Literature, see [12], Books that can be of interest to the “Japanese” gardener.

Niwaki: Pruning, Training and Shaping Trees the Japanese Way (Hardback). Free Worldwide shipping from The Bookdepository.

Front-garden gravel-area restoration

Box-roots in the gravel area

At the time we initially constructed our garden we used a couple of hundred square meters of weed control fabric (barrier cloth) as a basis for the gravel area's, in particular the Ginshanada.

When that was almost finished we walked into just a minor shortage of barrier cloth, to finish the gravel area to the left of the front entrance, beside the drive, required for the Hõrai-jima, "symbol of the islands of the Blest", in the front garden compartment.

As we had plenty of plastic bags at our disposal and this was just a small area, it was decided to use these bags to cover the ground and separate the soil from the gravel.

Although that is now some 15 years ago, already after 5 years we found out that this had not been a good idea at all. We did not have a problem with rain water drainage.
Roots growing through the gravel area barrier cloth

However after this time the plastic begun to decay, roots came trough and even ants managed to use the holes to get in and out. On the edges of the area the soil, with or without help of roots and ants, also saw a change to come trough.

One result of this was that more and more soil, i.e. sand and clay mixed with the gravel. This mix then also offered an opportunity for mosses and weeds to grow at random across the whole area .

Lessons learned:

Do not compromise the quality of materials needed for a good infrastructure.

Removal of the polluted and dirty soil is a hell of a job that consumes a lot of time. And then, we do not just want to dispose of the dirty gravel and replace it with new gravel. First of all it will be difficult to get exactly the same gravel, size and color mix. Secondly bringing in such a relatively small amount will be expensive.

Structured gravel removal
While removing the gravel we distinguish between clean gravel, a little dirty or heavily polluted gravel as these stages all need a different treatment.

Gravel removed here

The easy part is the clean gravel that can be reused as is. This is temporarily put into bags.
Then we have gravel that needs cleaning by washing dust and soil. In most cases this is combined with plenty of dead buxus leafs, dead stems, seed-boxes and the like. The worst is a mixture with soil, in particular clay and sand.

New cloth seen from the left-side garden

As the old plastic shows lots of holes and is tired apart and we did not have a drainage problem, I decided to let it in place and lay the barrier cloth on top of it.

Bringing back the gravel topping

Hand cleaning the least polluted gravel

Here you see me using tap-water to remove dust and clay by simply washing it. The clean gravel is then put in a bucket partly filed with water. In this way all the woody waste floats on the water and can thus be separated from the gravel.

Except for the size and shape of the buxus, the final result looks like it did 15 years ago. So nothing gained!
The gravel area looks like new

Still left with a couple of bags with highly soil "polluted" gravel. In one sack there is probably more sand and clay than pebbles, all together.

That is a dirty job for later.
Really dirty gravel still left

Related: Ground levelling, Drainage and Soil enrichment, Bottom surface maintenance, Raking training. Improve your raking skills, Constructing sand and gravel rakes.

Winter season-impression: Weather-Gods garden-art

Snow-topped ripples in raked-gravel

After a delay the winter has now commenced. Last week we got some snow. At first a thin layer and later about 5 to 10cm (2-4 inch) in our part of the country. We also had the pleasure of a good frost (damage for this winter yet unknown).

This post gives a brief impression of some of the wonders-of-Nature or (almost) "works of art" created by the Weather-Gods, in our garden during January 2013. We had snowfall named driving snow, very dry snow and extreme winds, letting it snow horizontally from all directions.

Oribe-path with snow-filled joints (part)
After the driving snowfall we saw again a different Oribe path. This time the joints filled with fresh snow and the stepping stones kept completely free of snow, but hot wet. Hence the dark teint an the beautifull contrast with the virgin pure white snow in the joints.

Oribe-path with snow-filled joints

Oribe-path in summer

For comparison I have included a photo of the Oribe-path in summer.

The photo's of the path to the bottom of this post show the path in the leftsite-garden.

Side-path snowed

Site-path clean

In my february 2011 post Birds bathing and drinking during winter, I wrote about the fantastic bird-activity we get because of letting the water-fountain stream. even during winter. I also showed you how much we enjoy the birds, from very close distance.

Turtle Island birds in winter 2/3

The same is true for this repeating subject: Tracks in the snow.

Related: Turtle Island lakes construction, The front garden compartment,
The left side garden compartment, The main garden compartment.

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

Our beautiful Ulmus parvifolia or Elm-tree in The front garden compartment is again partly affected by Dutch elm disease (DED). Well that is to say most parts that survived the previous attack.

In July 2011 we had to remove some heavy branches because they had lost all leafs in mid-summer. Although substantial damage, the tree came out pretty well.

This time, after a tough winter period, we saw far more damage and found out that this is Dutch elm disease, a fungus Ophiostoma ulmi (syn. Ceratocystis ulmi) and Ophiostoma novo-ulmi. Ophiostoma novo-ulmi that was first discovered in de 1970’s and also infects Ophiostoma ulmi resistant specimen like ‘Commelin’ and ‘Groeneveld’.

In almost all cases it gets only discovered when the damage has been done, damage that is irreversible. The fungus is transported by a small beetle named Scolytus scolytus and Scolytus multistriatus (Dutch: grote en de kleine iepenspintkever).

In the related and other links on this page you can see our garden proud in its glorious day. The bottom photo shows just one example. The ‘good’ news is that the tree is not fully destroyed. One, and only one, of the main branches survived. However the trunk also shows signs of life and new shoots have showed up. Now time will tell how we can shape this to become yet again a ‘garden proud’.


Related: Ulmus parvifolia, Elm-tree pollarding and thinning, Ulmus parvifolia, Elm-tree prunning, Deciduous trees.

What tools to use to trim Buxus topiary shrubs?

I think the complete question should read like: What tools to use to trim Buxus topiary shrubs … in a Japanese- and more specifically Zen-garden?

Most of the karikomi and hako-zukuri topiary and other shrubs are the evergreen Buxus sempervirens (Box or Boxwood).

Throughout the years I have used, or perhaps it is better to say tested or tried to use, a number of different tools to trim the topiary Buxus (Box) in our garden. At the end I am always using an ordinary hedge-shears complimented by an also ordinary pruning shears.


A disadvantage of using a hedge-shears (top most under the small pruning shears) is that it requires labour and clean-up afterwards. I use a self-sharpening model, and that is what it does. Frequent cleaning is all it needs. It can cut rather thick twigs and results in a clean cut that in most cases does not require a whole or partial redo.
The pruning shears is used for the fine-tuning to remove any twigs that where left. When finished I shake the shrubs-surface with the flat hand, the top as well as the sides, so as to remove left leafs and twigs. This can also give room to longer twigs that pop out. At the very bottom of the shrub there will also be some twigs that escaped the hedge shears. Sometimes we have some edges and corners that are difficult or risky to clip with the hedge-shears. For al these I also use the pruning shears.

Electric hedge trimmers are available in different models, based on different techniques. On the photo you see three of these. Top to bottom (under the hedge-shears) a mains-power operated electric hedge-shears, a battery operated electric Box- or Buxus-shears, and an also mains-power operated electric hover-like (garden Groom) collecting hedge trimmer.

I have always been extremely reluctant to use powered tools in our Zen-garden. It just does not seem to fit and does not make sense to use them. But then topiary are getting mature (larger) and I am not getting younger. Getting the right shape involves labour but also a form of artwork. After the shape has become mature the artwork part gets less and it more and more becomes hard labour to keep them in the right shape and size. At different intervals I am advised to use mechanised tools and sometimes a have followed such well meant advices.

Mains-power operated electric hedge-shears

The mains-power operated electric hedge-shears (orange center-left) is an old one. It is not really suited for clipping the flexible and soft Box-twigs. Meaning that you have to redo the surface a couple of times. Then you also have the hassle of the mains-cord and it is very noisy. Added up: forget it.

I am sure there are more suited devices on the marked so I will have a closer look in the near future.
UPDATE: In July 2012 I bought a new mains-power hedge shears ! Although the cable indeed is a bit of a hassle and something to be extremely aware of, it already saved me days. It took me over 13 years to get to this stage, because this device just does (still) not fit in a Zen-garden. However the time I gain is substantial and most of the time is now consumed by the preparations and tidy-up.

The noise of this new device is far less than that produced by my old one and this also cuts far better and sharp. So the ‘.. to redo the surface a couple of times’ does no longer apply and even most rounded shapes can be trimmed very nicely. This shears does leave more marks than the hand shears but it all is very acceptable and will have disappeared in a few weeks time.

Specialised battery operated electric Box- or Buxus-shears

The battery Buxus-shears (blue-black at the center) gave up after 5 years of modest usage. I guess end of life of the rechargeable battery. It still runs but slowly without much power. The battery-pack can be replaced so I now need to find out if i can order one (and the cost involved. Unfortunately the battery is not interchangeable, meaning that it only lasts for about one hour and then needs a recharge. The full re-charge takes a couple of hours.

It gives a clean cut but you always have to redo a clipped surface because it just won’t cut all twigs in one go. Meaning that the cut gets less clean and it takes even more time then using the hedge-shears. It requires less labour though. After a job well done it also requires clean-up.

Because of the fact that it only operated for an hour I can not use it for most of the topiary but only use it in place that are difficult to reach where I can use it with one hand.

The mains-power operated electric hover-like (Garden Groom) collecting hedge trimmer

The electric collecting hedge trimmer (green white bottom-right quadrant) is not suited for the Buxus in our garden. Why is that?

Saves time – Eliminates clean up … However the built-in container is so small that it takes almost more time to empty it far to often then it takes to clean up. May be great for a smaller garden. While the debris-container fills up it gets more and more weight making it heavy to work “overhead”. 

Shredding action reduces waste 10:1 … May very well be true. Nonetheless it fills up very quickly (see previous unique selling point).

Ideal for trimming & shaping … This all depends on the shapes. In our case it is very tricky to use because you can only see what you did after you have done it. Also it can not be used for inside-corners and small shapes and details.  For large flat or close to flat surfaces it does just fine. That is to say on other then Box shrubs, perhaps hedge rows. Buxus leafs and twigs get literately ripped apart and show frayed. The device is very noisy and you also have the hassle of the mains-cord.

Related: Shrubs, Training, clipping and pruning, Main garden karikomi and hako-zukuri objects, The front garden compartment.

Frost damage 2011/2012, final damage report

As I already wrote in Frost damage, to survive or to die ? for the first time in the life of Tsubo-en we have major frost damage. Now in June we can draw conclusions.

Although most of our Prunus Lusitanica in the frond garden had some or major damage, after careful pruning, all are back in good shape again. Or growing into the desired direction. The photo to the left shows an example of this damage top-right.

The previous is also true for the damaged Prunus Laurocerasus "Otto Luyken". It takes some time but now they are green again.

After an extreme delay we got our winter. February 1, 2012, we got about 20 cm (8 inch) snow. We also had the pleasure to be the coldest spot in the country with -22,9 °C (-9.2F).

Now 29th June 2012, we can make up the final damage report.

The Euonymus Japonica "compactus" in the main-garden  (next photo) did not survive and we had to remove it completely. I have not as such replaced it, but instead want to have lower plants at that spot. Taxus bacaata, believe it or not, as a high growing groundcover around a  kept very small, broad leaved Prunus Lusitanica.

The damaged bamboo Sasaella masamuneana also has more or less recovered with some help by careful pruning and thinning.

Laurus nobilis is known not winter-hardy in our climate-zone, here we just took the risk.  Everything we saw of the Laurus nobilis in the left side garden was dead (above left) and was pruned back to ground level (below).


The radical tuber with the roots was left (left) and started growing again (below).

This time we will keep it very low and small, but it does great. 

Now the sad news. Two of our garden proud have almost, but not completely died. The Wisteria sinensis on the main garden and our Ulmus parvifolia "seijn" in the front garden.

Where the Wisteria mostly starts developing flower buts in march/april and blooms around the end of April beginning of May (Abundant bloom of our Wisteria sinensis), the Wisteria sinensis did not show any sign of live and showed dead until the end of May (this post top photo). In March and April it had lots of small buts, but these where from November last year and did not change shape or size. Well eventually they got smaller and dried. Any twig I touched broke off with a snappy sound.

The Wisteria has growen as a tree and has three main branches. By the end of May they all showed life signs... Low to the ground, but life ! At the very bottom of the main trunk some buds started growing by mid May and that growth was a starting point for a second life.

Close to the ground the main trunk was literally exploding with new growth (above), so indeed it will take some years but the roots are okay and the plant will survive.

Both, side trunks shown signs of life, and are now, end of June, developing good growth. The main trunk is dead from about 30cm (12 inches) above the ground but has some strong twigs (above right). I made a selection of new twigs that are left on from the "explosion" and lead them along the old, dead wood. Now some have reached the top !!

So next year I expect some flowering gratitude in return.

The other sad story is the Ulmus parvifolia "seijn" (Elm-tree). This, I think, is not directly related to frost damage but it got Dutch elm disease. There was some confusion due to the timing in relation to the frost damage. I will write about that later, in a separate post.

Related: Shrubs, Wisteria sinensis pruning, Tsubo-en garden plan.

Midoritsumi or ‘green picking’ the pine-trees: Continued

In Midoritsumi or ‘green picking’ the pine-trees I first wrote about this annual mandatory “bud pinching” activity. This year, with our first Frost damage due to minimum temperatures as low as -22,9 °C (-9.2F), growth of most plants, including the Pinus densiflora, Japanese Red Pine started a few weeks late.

The photo to the left shows the Pine prior to the annual autumn midoritsumi.

This year I used a small scaffold, rather then a ladder, that makes this job a lot more relaxed and less dangerous. I only need to climb into the tree to remove the top-centre buds. I also spread a cotton sheet under the work in progress area, which reduced the required tidy-up time.

Use of the scaffold also makes it far more easy to combine the act of midoritsumi with momiage, removing dead needles from pine. Because the growth is becoming more and more dense, dead needles get stuck and pile up in the steps, danzukuri.

De procedure is described in detail in the first post on this subject and in the related main-site pages. On the main-site pages you can also see how this tree looked some 5 years ago and how it developed.

This bottom photo shows how the tree looks after a full days work.

Related: Evergreen trees, Fukinaoshi: Pinus densiflora, Japanese Red Pine, Training, clipping and pruning: Pinus densiflora, Japanese Red Pine. Post Midoritsumi or ‘green picking’ the pine-trees.

Shumi-sen or Mount Sumeru, in historical perspective

In the garden book Sakuteiki 5 “Creating a garden” is expressed as “setting stones”, ishi wo taten koto; literally, the “act of setting stones upright.”

At the time the Sakuteiki was written, the placement of stones was perceived as the primary act of gardening. Similar expressions are also used in the text, however, to mean literally “setting garden stones” rather than “creating gardens”.

Make sure that all the stones, right down to the front of the arrangement, are placed with their best sides showing. If a stone has an ugly-looking top you should place it so as to give prominence to its side. Even if this means it has to lean at a considerable angle, no one will notice. There should always be more horizontal than vertical stones. If there are “running away” stones there must be “chasing” stones. If there are “leaning” stones, there must be “supporting” stones.

And note again that in many cases stone and shaped shrubs (karikomi) can be used interchangeably.

Mount Sumeru or Shumi-sen ( 須弥山 or しゅみせん ), (Chinese: Xumishan) symbolized by the upright heavy rock is one of few stone arrangements, ishigumi, in Tsubo-en. This is the mountain at the center of the World in ancient Hindu-Buddhist cosmology. Its prominence is emphasized by some everlasting snow that seems to cover it and the Shitenno, the Four Heavenly Kings, that protect the four continents surrounding Mt. (Su) Meru.

Today, ink monochrome painting still is the art form most closely associated with Zen Buddhism. A primary design principle was the creation of a landscape based on, or at least greatly influenced by, the three-dimensional monochrome ink (sumi)landscape painting, sumi-e or suibokuga. In Japan the garden has the same status as a work of art.

Interestingly after erecting this stone we discovered that it shows great resemblance to a Japanese monochrome ink landscape depicted in the book “Zen culture” [5] by Thomas Hoover.

This shows the second and third tier of the three dimensional painting technique.
Our Sumeru shows near resemblance with the mountain at the center-right. Not only the shape but also the coloration of black and white. In the garden the clouds are formed by the blooming Wisteria sinensis(Fuji).
The backdrop boundary hedgerows and the “borrowed scenery” (by means of Shakkei) are also part of the third tier. This Japanese monochrome ink landscape is probably a simplified version of this painting if the Fanghu isle.

Funghu         The Fanghu Isle of the Immortals

Fanghu (literally, “square jar”)is one of five mythical island homes of immortals traditionally thought to lie in the sea off the east coast of China. Fanghu was a common theme in Chinese painting, and this hanging scroll depicting it is one of the finest. Belief in this island dates to at least the third century B.C., when the first emperor of China sent an expedition into the eastern sea in the hopes of making contact with beings who could teach him the secrets of immortality. This expedition remains one of the more tragic events in Chinese history: since immortals were believed to have eternal youth, the emperor sent an embassy of young boys and girls to communicate with them. None returned. Largely because of this event, Taoists came to believe that Fanghu and the other islands either lay beyond violent seas that prevented mortals from finding them or rested on the backs of great tortoises who were constantly in motion, so that the mountains had no permanent location.

Wang Yun depicted the mythical Fanghu rising from such an ocean. In this scroll, a precariously perched, oddly-shaped rock formation rises forcefully from surging waves. The other islands can be seen in the background through mist. The island is inhabited by immortals, whose red-and-green palaces with gold roofs resemble Taoist temples nestled in the folds of the rock. The rest of the mountain is an ideal landscape adorned with magical plants and trees, misty vapors, and mysterious caverns from which waterfalls descend. The inscription in the upper left by the artist indicates that this hanging scroll was painted for a Taoist named Helao and based on an older Song-dynasty composition.

Wang Yun (1652—1735 or later)
Qing dynasty, Kangxi reign, dated 1699
Hanging scroll; ink and colors on silk, 142 x 60.3 cm Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City (also in [e] Fig 4, page 84).

The above “The Fanghu Isle of the Immortals” by Wang Yun may very well be inspired by this monochrome hanging scroll ink on paper painting, named Spring Dawn at Cinnabar Terrace (under the figure it states: Spring Dawn Over the Elixir Terrace), by Lu Guang, Yuan Dynasty, ca. 1369 (also in [e] Fig 11, page 91).

This however is said to be a sacred spot identified as Mount Mao Shan near Nanjing.
Mount Mao was an ancient Daoist center and is here symbolically represented by the artist as a manifestation of his own practice of “inner alchemy”. An outdoor Daoist altar is depicted on a cliff at the top of the mountain.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Edward Elliott Family Collection, Purchase, the Dillon Fund Gift, 1982 (1982.2.2).
Image copyright the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

For more specific information about the context and surrounding in our garden have a look at the related pages.

Related: Stone and rock: Mount Sumeru stone setting, In Year round activities: 17th August 2008: Mount Sumeru erected after 10 year of “dormancy”, Monochrome landscape ink painting examples The front garden compartment: beside the drive Hõrai-jima, “symbol of the islands of the Blest”

Frost damage, to survive or to die ?

As mentioned in my earlier post Tracks in the snow we had an unusual winter with extreme frost. This is the first time ever that we have substantial frost damage.

Although we have previously had these low temperatures and minor damages, the combination of factors this year was very different and fatal to some […]

Tracks in the snow

After an extreme delay the winter has now commenced.  Last week we got about 20 cm (8 inch) snow. We also had the pleasure to be the coldest spot in the country with -22,9 °C (-9.2F).

It’s exciting to find trails in the snow of “wild creature”. While we have no clue what wildlife […]

Late winter or no winter 2011/2012

The first frost we had in the Winter of 2011-2012

So far we have not seen any real winter weather. It is more like an extremely long autum.

Last week we had the very first frost of this season on Monday 16th and Tuesday 17nd of January 2012. This is exceptionally late! And it actually lasted only 2 nights, and only just below 0°C.

What […]

Wisteria sinensis winter pruning

Over winter the Wisteria side shoots need to get pruned back to 6 to 10 cm long (2.5 – 4 inch), leaving only 2 or 3 buds on the side-shoots. These will be the flowering spurs on the Wisteria.

This pruning should be carried out each year. The only shoots to be left untouched […]

Японский Сад «Цубо-Ен», Japanese garden “Tsubo-en” in Ukraine magazine


An article about our garden written by Olga van Saane has been published in September 2011 issue of the garden-magazine “Neskuchniy Garden” («Нескучный Сад») in Ukraine.

An abstract of the article, in the Russian-language, can also be found on the blog of the article author.


Most beautiful spot in province of Flevoland nomination


Yes! With 24 other places we have been nominated as “Most beautiful spot in the province of Flevoland“.

The search of this spot is to commemorate the fact that this year our province officially exists 25 year. The inauguration was on 27 Juni 1985 but the work to create this “New land” […]

Abies procera “Glauca” (Noble Fir) tidy-up


This is part of the activity I discussed in Niwaki-trees annual pruning and trimming for shape and size. Because of the exceptional attributes of this Abies I wanted to show some additional photo’s, and here they are. This is about our Abies procera “Glauca” (Noble Fir or Blue Noble Fir).

In its native […]

Niwaki-trees annual pruning and trimming for shape and size


Most of the solitary trees need one major annual treatment of pruning and trimming for shape and size.

After 12 years in our garden, most trees ar some 15 to 17 years of age and have now reached the right size and often the right shape. It is in particular the shape that can […]

Repairing the bamboo fence (take gaki)


Our small bamboo fence (take gaki) was constructed in the Yotsume-gaki style. Constructed and placed in 2009 the fence now required repair and maintenance.

A bamboo fence or take gaki ( 竹垣 ) is an important object in many Japanese gardens. Like woods bamboo can last for years in the outdoors with proper […]

Sagina subulata as moss substitute


Source Donalea plant brokers

Sagina, called ‘pearlworts’ or ‘Irish-Moss’ (Dutch ‘Vetmuur’) can very well serve as a substitute for moss in a Japanese garden. Unfortunately we have a bad experience with it.

In my post ‘Groundcover maintenance’ I wrote about the fact that Sagina is one of our most feared and persistent weeds in […]