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     Marijke & Piet.

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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 [...]

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 […]

Sagina subulata as moss substitute

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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 the ground-covers, or actually […]

Topiary hedges, design and refine by experience

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My first thought for a post-title was ‘Design and re-design by experience’. But then, later I considered that as too strong. Hence the current title. What is that all about ? In this post I will discuss, and more importantly show, an interesting and even intriguing, development. Find the differences in these photo’s (taken from […]

Birds bathing and drinking during winter

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In summer the “upper lake” on the Kame-jima, “Turtle island”, gives us a lot of joy. Every day, we see a diversity of birds that come to drink and bath in this small pond. The water in the “upper lake” (right) gets continuously replenished and refreshed by a small fountain-pump that gets the water […]

Rule 0: Let no plant grow where you did not plant it

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In the Tsubo-en website we have many pages with lessons learned (LL) at the bottom. Recently I started to include LL’s in this diary, classified as such. Having an IT-background, talking about lessons learned reminded me of: “Rule 0: Don’t make a mess of  it.” by Edsger W. Dijkstra, a Dutch computer scientist. This […]

Scrubbing the veranda deck to remove alga and moss

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Well made decking is very attractive in its own right and is part of a Japanese shoinzukuri style building such as our house. Although our decking is profiled, not normally the case in Japan, it can become slippery with algae and even mosses. This needs to be frequently removed e.g. with a wire-brush when dry, […]

Pruning shears with broken spring: How to repair ?

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This is a lightweight (not a cheap, also known as Rose-pruner) hand pruner or pruning shears used to cut twigs and thin branches. It has only one cutting-edge. Today the spring that pushes the blades open, broke in two parts. Although it was immediately obvious to me how I can repair this, and continue […]

Maintaining the pathway edges

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The Cotula groundcover would easily overgrow the tobi-ishi step stones. It may take a while before the path has disappeared but far before that point the characteristic beauty will have gone. The first photo shows the path as we like to see it after the edges where just cut. This is an activity without […]

Undesired mosses

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In the chapter on mosses, Mosses and lichen, we have a section named Unwanted mosses and that is where this post is about. The unwanted moss here is Hypnum cupressiforme (Dutch: Gesnaveld klauwtjesmos), and Hygrohypnum luridum (Hygrohypnum Moss, Drab Brook-moss, Dutch Gewoon spatwatermos). These mosses are very strong growers and survivors. When they first […]