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Midoritsumi or ‘green picking’ the pine-trees

pinus-densiflora-before-midoritsumi-IMG_4269This year we had an early and fabulous spring with summer-like temperatures and little, actually far too less, rainfall.

After the autumn momiage, removing dead needles from pine, this is the next major activity related to pine.


Where in the previous year and in May 2009 I applied midoritsumi or ‘green picking’ of the pine trees in the second half of May, this year the end of April was the time.

Luckily we only have a few pine-trees that require this treatment because this is a cumbersome time consuming activity. The only pine-tree that is so high that I need to climb into it to be able to pick is the Pinus densiflora.


The containers in the photo below show the harvest of this year. As you see, part of it are needles. During this activity I also do some momiage, that is removal of dead needles, that where left during the last autumn momiage, that in its turn is also combined with a miduritsumi-light.


Bud pinching can be a dirty, sometimes painful, and sometimes dangerous job. It takes me a full halve working day, about 4 hours, to get this done, including removal of debris and tidy-up.

Most of the job I am standing and sitting in the tree trying to reach out to clip or pinch the candles.

Pine resin (matsuyani) in very sticky stuff so I wear gloves all the time, whether I pinch them or clip the buds out. You need long sleeves to also protect your wrists, not only against the resin but also against the sharp needles.

Do not forget to take off your wrist-watch, that to is hard to clean.


And then, long sleeves is not always enough. I wore two shirts but still my wrists ended up without protection.The Japanese gardeners that do the pruning either wear special long sleeve gloves or pullover long sleeves. And that is what I will be looking for next time.


Although most important is removal of the larger buds, I actually take out any candle I come across. If not done so more work is left for the autumn and the shape will start changing again earlier in the year. In this way the tree will look better during the remainder of the season. One should note that a bud left unpruned is likely to grow 50 cm (2 feet) or more in one season.


The best book on the subject: Niwaki: Pruning, Training and Shaping Japanese Garden Trees by Jake Hobson. This may still be the only English language book on the subject of Niwaki, topiary Japanese garden trees, and shrubs.

On request here are close-up photo's after midoritsumi of three pine specimen.


Pinus mugo mugo, close-up after midoritsume.


Pinus leucodermis Satellit, close-up after midoritsume.


Pinus densiflora, close-up after midoritsume.

Related: Evergreen trees, Fukinaoshi: Pinus densiflora, Japanese Red Pine, Training, clipping and pruning: Pinus densiflora, Japanese Red Pine.

3 comments to Midoritsumi or ‘green picking’ the pine-trees

  • Annette Olson

    Thanks for the post on Midoritsumi. I’m in the process with my 3 P. densiflora, and would love to see a closeup of the pinched branch tips. Niwaki recommends leaving 2.5 cm on P. densiflora. Is that how you pinch them?

  • Hi Anette, I do not have a close-op photo at hand but yes that is about the size I leave. But no more than that.
    Note that some of the hard to reach candles I pinch but most of them I cut.
    I’ll see to make and place a close-up later.

    And yes with regard to this work, Niwaki is my Bible so to speak !

  • I made some close-up photos after midoritsumi of three pine tree specimen.

    As I cannot place them here in the way I would like, I have placed them in the original post.

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