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     Marijke & Piet.

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Overall measurements to reduce maintenance, continued 3

Larix, after cutting

Again, a beautiful mature tree but just too un-maintainable, at least after my illness as described in: “Less is more”? Overall measurements to reduce maintenance.

Future will tell how this will develop. The tree is very strong and I have a good feeling about it.

Larix, halfway

The first in this series was:  “Less is more”? Overall measurements to reduce maintenance and "Overall measurements to reduce maintenance, continued 2".


In The front garden compartment, two trees needed treatment being the Larix (Europeaus) decidua and the Prunus lusitanica, perhaps more a shrub than a tree.

This is to show how to maintain the beautiful mature Larix (Europeaus) decidua tree became a burden.

In Approach to realization of a (Japanese Zen) garden, 6 - Maintenance and tuning. you find the general methodology based on six iterative realization phases and the details on how we used this to realize Tsubo-en.



This is the more maintainable result of the Prunus lusitanica.






Niwaki-trees annual pruning and trimming for shape and size.

See: Hako-zukuri style Prunus lusitanica “tree” tuning.


Prunus-lusitanica, pruned









Prunus-lusitanica, pruned

In this series:

Overall measurements to reduce maintenance, continued 2 and earlier “Less is more”? Overall measurements to reduce maintenance.

Related: The left side garden compartment in Tsubo-enThe main garden compartment, The front garden compartmentA forced recess: Infective or bacterial EndocarditisYear round activities in the garden.


Overall measurements to reduce maintenance, continued 2

Acer pseudoplatanus-platanoides

The first in this series was:  “Less is more”? Overall measurements to reduce maintenance.

In September 2015 we started to execute this plan in the left side garden compartment. Later in September  we continued in the main garden compartment, with the Acer palmatum "Bloodgood" and the Acer platanoides "Royal Red".  This was a quick win in that it was far more easier to remove the trees then to prune them.

The Acer pseudoplatanus "Brilliantissimuni" ( the orange-yellow one in between on this photo) was removed some years ago because of its leafs color that was too dominant.


Note that this was a photo of some years ago. As you can see the trees where over 6 meter (20 feet) high.

This photo shows the coloring in October 2009. It shows also the size of the crown after six year and that was the main reason to eliminate these trees. We will miss the bird activities like the woodpeckers. I will discuss this in a separate Blog-message.



So far we have determinant three  different woodpecker species. As you can see, in summer and in winter.


woodpecker in snow
acer-autumn october 2009


Below a photo of Midoritsumi or ‘green picking’, in 2012.


In the post: Midoritsumi or ‘green picking’ the pine-trees, however, this was before my illness in 2014 (A forced recess: Infective or bacterial Endocarditis).



The following photo's are from September 2015, after this massive pruning and thinning exercise, where also many branches have been removed.

Pinus densiflora after thinning

Pinus densiflora after thinning


The Pinus densiflora is definitely one of our prides. This tree also provides a sort of balance against the karikomi and hako-zukuri objects in the main-garden section.

To remove the Pinus densiflora  is almost unthinkable.

That is why we decided to make it easier and less cumbersome to maintain.

One should note that every bud left un-pruned is likely to grow 50 cm (2 feet) or more in one season.
Pinus densiflora after thinning

It took over two full containers to remove the branches and needles.


Continued... Overall measurements to reduce maintenance, continued 3.

Related: The left side garden compartment in Tsubo-enThe main garden compartmentA forced recess: Infective or bacterial EndocarditisYear round activities in the gardenMidoritsumi or ‘green picking’ Pinus densiflora,  Midoritsumi, ‘green picking’ and Momiage ‘thinning’, combined.


“Less is more”? Overall measurements to reduce maintenance

Cryptomeria Japonica"yohaku no bi": "the beauty of empty space", also ma or aki. [2 (p118) ]. For the Western, non-Zen viewer, the art of yohaku is perhaps best described in terms of Mies van der Rohe's "less is more". However I am not sure if this is what was meant with the almost destruction of the left side garden compartment in Tsubo-en.

We now have some very nice beautiful, mature trees in our Zen-garden, both evergreens as well as  deciduous. However, there is a pragmatical problem. The problem is my health and condition as the result described in my post: A forced recess: Infective or bacterial Endocarditis. Now, about one and a half year later, the conclusion is that we will not be able to maintain the garden as it is today. Not only do I still need a hart-valve, also the brain-damage has some nasty effects. My vision and balance are not what it used to be and also my reaction speed is less.
Of course I can contract a horticulturist. Not only will there be very few around with the required skills, it will also be very expensive, in particular related to the higher trees.  This is reason that we desired a plan to be able to keep the Zen-garden. It is the beginning of this what that we describe here. I hope to be able to report you of the progress on this blog. Part of this is experimental, in that we take a substantial risk with the outcome. In the worst case a tree will eventually need to removed of the outcome is not acceptable.  How sad, but some trees will be removed by definition.

Also you have to be forgiving with regard to my writing because the cerebral infarction and/or brain haemorrhage left me with a substantial hole in my brain in the area responsible for speech, reading, write and speech-recognition.

This is the plants plan that shows the trees and shrub that will be removed or drastically be shortens, pruned or clipped. In principle trees will be shortened to 150 cm to maximum 175 cm ( i.e. 5 to 6 feet,) so that I will be able to maintain them  with my both feed on the solid ground.


This is the original garden-plan Plants and planting (Shokobutsu) in Tsubo-en. On this page you also see a "Statement of caution" related to keep the gravel clean, one of the other reasons for this maintenance exorcise.
In September we started with the left side garden compartment that now has finished, for the time being.


This is what was left from the beautiful and mature Nothofagus antarctica. I have a good feeling that this will recover in the next year.

This is how it looked last year.  Nothofagus-antarctica

Also beautiful and mature is our Cryptomeria Japonica "elegans". Cryptomeria-Japonica-IMG_3834-356

As you can see, after my recovery of my Endocarditis and  the cerebral infarction and/or brain haemorrhage, it may not be a good idea to do this type of  garden maintenance.

The next photo shows how it showed in autumn 2013.

Below, what was left... before the twin-trunk got the finale height.














left garden, Cryptomeria Japonica

Although not specifically Zen, or Japanese, the herb-garden Buxus sempervirens hedges was one of our topiary prides. R.I.P.



Below you see the end resold.

Due to the size of this beautiful Buxus sempervirens hedges, little space was left for the actual herbs. Not only that, but it takes a whole day to do the pruning and cleaning, which is just to much.

See Topiary hedges, design and refine by experience in the the left side garden compartment.

left garden, buxus






left garden buxus heges

As you can see, the Buxus hedges are not eliminated as such, only minimized. If this means that, in one or two years, they still look good, or good again, that is just great. If this means that they require yet too maintenance, the hedges will removed then.

left garden buxus heges

This is the status on October 2015. I will report you of the progress, both, on the measurements to reduce maintenance as on how it


In "Zen means real attention" "Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add but when there is nothing left to take away". Tsubo-en The Movie. A Japanese Zen Buddhist dry landscape meditation garden.

Both the garden en the owner in better times. In: Some (garden) activities during June 2009. This month featuring:
"Tsubo-en Zen Garden The Movie" and "The making of"
See the Fujitsu Internet mood film here.

Overall measurements to reduce maintenance, continued 2, To be continued...

Related: The left side garden compartment in Tsubo-enThe main garden compartmentA forced recess: Infective or bacterial EndocarditisYear round activities in the garden.


Truffles in Tsubo-en (Hymenogaster-olivoceus)

The trigger  "How to deal with Ginshanada soil settlement" was house painting during May/June 2015.

During this period I also toke care of the whole of the gravel area and the surrounding borders.

It is here where I found some truffles.


This (false) truffles is a genus of fungi of the type Hymenogaster olivaceus Vittad.  (Olijfbruine zijdetruffel). The genus has a widespread distribution in our region and contains about 100 species. The taxonomy of the European species was revised in 2011, and twelve species were recognized, for which an identification key was presented.





Related: Ginshanada, our main garden,  Index of plants in Tsubo-enEvergreen trees (mushroom).


How to deal with Ginshanada soil settlement


This photo shows the new solution,... for now.

In the last 18 years  the surface in our garden settled about 25 centimeter (10 inch), total. Halve way, as we know now, we invented different solutions for particular area's and problems. Unfortunately you do not know on forehand how  low it goes and whit what speed.

Some seven year ago we invented a good solution. One solution would be to remove the gravel, path and barrier cloth, higher the surface with extra soil, sand in this case, to the desired height, and place all components back.
We opted for an other solution that is, leave part of it alone and use rock look-a-like tiles to compensate for the different in height.
This is rock look-a-like tiles what you see just under the gray-blue strip.

Soil undergoes both primary and secondary consolidation.
Primary consolidation is short-term and takes place during the mechanical compacting process. Secondary consolidation is long-term and takes place after the compaction process is complete and the permanent loads are in place (soils-settlement).




In a attempt to use an alternative solution we tried to overcome the gap (about 10 centimeter (3-4 inch)) with a the current ground level. Plastic folio with small gravel, in very much in the colors of the  Ginshinada gravel. However, for a number of reasons this alternative did finally not make it.


Oribe roji



What made it was a additional border with groundcover planting.

In the case of the Ginshanada, our main garden gravel surface, we also re-do the Path around the house.

The "stepping stones" tobi-ishi, "floats" in (that is what tobi means) the Ginshanada.
The Roji, tobi-ishi path (main garden) is very much inspired by the so called "Oribe's style".




The new border is covered with two new types of groundcover plants:

  • Vinca Minor (Kleine Maagdenpalm) for the West facing and sunny area.
  • end for the North facing area the Mitchella repens (Patrijsbes).

(Groundcovers and Index of plants in Tsubo-en).



The remaining area's also needed a up-level of about 10 centimeter (3-4 inch).

This was also an opportunity to remove the gap between the house and the  Ginshinada and to terminate the many ant nests (Control of pests, weeds and diseases in Tsubo-en).

In addition to leveling the gravel I also took the opportunity do eliminate undesired mosses in the gravel.

During this maintainance activity we found Truffles. This is described later in a separate post.


Related: Ginshanada, our main gardenThe Roji, tobi-ishi path (main garden)Control of pests, weeds and diseases in Tsubo-enMaintenance, Post: Undesired mossesundesired mossesGroundcovers , Index of plants in Tsubo-en.


Second Abundant bloom of our Wisteria sinensis

Wisteria sinensis bloom In my previous post,' Recovery of our solitary Wisteria-sinensis', I wrote about the blooming of the Wisteria-sinensis. Now, after almost three months, we have a second, relative abundant blooming, and this time with the leafs developed.   Although blooming is seen during the whole summer, we have never seen so many flowers at the same [...]

Recovery of our solitary Wisteria-sinensis

Wisteria sinensis, 20 may 2015   This frost-damage was particularly sad with regard to our garden pride, the solitary Wisteria-sinensis (see: Resurrection of our Wisteria sinensis). In 2015 we had a very late spring. Temperatures have not been very low, with average rainfall and average sunshine. Although the shape of the Wisteria sinensis is no longer solitary as it [...]

Midoritsumi, ‘green picking’ and Momiage ‘thinning’, combined

Pinus_densiflora-IMG_1089       Due to my health status during 2014 (see: A forced recess: Infective or bacterial Endocarditis) for the first time ever, my wife (on here own initiative) had done Midoritsumi, the ‘green picking’ of our Pinus- densiflora. This must have been a hell of a job, because it was done with a [...]

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

img_0528p20A 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 [...]

A forced recess: Infective or bacterial Endocarditis

EndocarditisThe 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 [...]