Year round activities in the garden

O-karikomi in summer and under a snow blanket The o-karikomi summer 2008 and under a snow blanket January 2010.

Here you find some year round activities in the garden. The most recent ones on top. The purpose of this is to give a good impression of an annual gardening-cycle, not necessarily the latest status.
As of May 2010 we have a "Blog-based diary" where we will publish about activities more frequently. Activities can be of natural origin, e.g. seasonal changes, maintenance or otherwise.

In 2009 we had the 400th Anniversary of Trade Relations between Japan and the Netherlands.

December 2009, January 2010
October, November 2009
September 2009
July and August 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
January, February 2009
November, December 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
This page shows about a year+ cycle in our garden.

Some of the maintenance activities are one time or return every decennium or so.
Most of the activities are annual and occur around the same time every year.
In our Blog-based Diary we keep you up to date.

To our Blog-based Diary
See our Diary

The weather conditions this winter where so extreme that we had to take measures to protect our planting even in
December 2009, January 2010.

The snow-deck become so dense and heavy that, how beautiful it was, we had to take it off most of the shrubs in particular the topiary like the O-Karikomi and hako-zukuri buxus.


The topiaries getting top-heavy had to be protected against collapsing in mid-winter. In some place getting as thick as 40 cm (16 inch).

Some (garden) activities during
October, November 2009.

Oposite to September, October and November where extremely rainy. If the rain is to blame we do not know but our O-Karikomi and hako-zukuri buxus have never been this brown (right photo). We desperately hoop and pray that this will not leave its traces in spring.

The garden activities during this period are rather low. Just too much rainy days. Most of the work we did had to do with regular cleaning-up like collecting and removing leafs, either our own or those that came over.

Wisteria sinensis pruning is the last pruning we do in our garden in any year.
Good pruning of it is required to get the abundance of flowers as can be seen, for instance, this year in April 2009 and May.

Although not a "tree" as such we discuss our main garden Wisteria sinensis in the chapter on Deciduous trees.
This is done so because we trained it to become a solitary tree.

On the right a Wisteria fruit, a seedpod that is rather rare. This year we have only this single one. A couple of years ago we had 3 or 4 seeds but that is al in 11 years time.
Would be great to grow a bonsai out of these seeds.

Below left, although plenty of leaflets have dropped off already, there is still left a whole lot. By doing the pruning now we also prevent these leafs from further spreading into the garden.
Below right the result after this last annual pruning.

The Acer palmatum disectum garnet (see: Deciduous trees.) in the Frond garden kept a beautiful deck until November. Then in only one week time all leafs dropped off. We collected them before they could get blown away.


After one of the extreme rain showers we had in November this rainbow showed up.


Some (garden) activities during
September 2009.

September was extremely dry and very warm. Unfortunately in August and September we had strong winds. Mostly far too strong to be able to clip the buxus and collect the leaves. Hence clipping of the Karikomi and hako-zukuri and other shrubs throughout the garden had to wait until the second half of September. This then took most of our time.

During the first two weeks in September we clipped the new Hedgerows in the left side compartment that where placed one year ago in July 2008 and groundcover edges everywhere.


This year we had an exceptional number of honeybees in the garden. They where very interested in the buxus where they often dropped down more or less stoned. And yes we got stings from these friendly bees.


Clipping the buxus (see: Training, clipping and pruning) requires that there is little to no wind. Hence we had to wait long for a good opportunity, that came only in the second half of September. Luckily we did most of our pruning in August already.

Some (garden) activities during July and August 2009.

Like in June we had plenty of small jobs to do. Now that the trees and shrubs are more mature, we are more flexible with regard to timing, and we can afford to do a lot of "pruning for shape" work already in mid-summer. All the work we did is to retain and higher the level of perfection.

In August we started selective pruning of some of the trees both Deciduous trees and Evergreen trees and of some Shrubs.
Removal of unwanted mosses and lichen in ground covers also is an activity that can and needs to be done year round.
Apart of the pruning work and "the edges" of all kind Visible and out of sight, weed- and pest-control activities where substantial.

Examples of most of these jobs can be found in these pages:
Pest & weeds control
Bottom surface maintenance
Training, clipping and pruning.

In addition we did some major prunning on:
Cryptomeria Japonica (sugi) "elegans", thinning of many deciduous trees (like October 2008), and the regular cleaning-up.

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.

This month we gave special attention to the edges and a general tidy-up of the garden prior to the shooting.

This is a short report on an extraordinary activity in the garden. On Wednesday 10th June we had a crew from Talmon taking over our garden. The purpose of this visit was to shoot impressions of Zen-characteristics for use as a theme in a so called "corporate mood film" for Fujitsu.
The cameraman is from MBCamera.
Talmon in Japan ? (Dutch).

One of the results shows a short impression of the Tsubo-en garden and how it is continuously maintained and improved.
On the Introduction page we have included a YouTube version of the Tsubo-en video-clip. It is also available as the first entry in the collection of video clips, named "Tsubo-en The Movie, A short impression."  2:36 min
This slide-show "The making of" is a mood impression of the shooting day. We where lucky to have great weather, which was very different on the days before and after this event.

View location in Google Maps or in   Tsubo-en in Google Earth  Google Earth.
Note: The slide-show will only display correctly after the page has fully loaded !
This may take a minute or so.
Click photo to start the slide-show

Some of these photos are by courtesy of Hetty Bevers, projectmanager at Talmon. With thanks.

Some (garden) activities during
May 2009.
The growth season has started early this year.
Like April, May also was very warm but with plenty of rain and sun fighting for the honour. Very growing weather. And like in April, part of the activities involves maintenance of structures.

Our, Pinus Densiflora got its anual pruning, that is thinning back to one or two new shoots (midoritsumi). We have documented this with all details in: Pinus densiflora, Japanese Red Pine on the "Training, clipping and pruning" page.
The Pinus Mugo also got its first anual pruning, by thinning back new shoots (midoritsumi).

See: Pinus Mugo mugo (also see Evergreen trees and Pinus mugo mugo fukinaoshi).

In May we have put a lot of time in removing weeds (see: Bottom surface maintenance) and Pest & weeds control. Many weeds can only be removed with laborious handwork.

Our Wisteria sinensis in full bloom end of April beginning of May now lost all its flowers and started growing leafs (see: Deciduous trees).
The Wisteria is located in the main garden compartment close to the Buddhist triad stone arrangement. This spring it had over 600 flower strings or racemes. The flowers are produced in pendulous racemes up to over 40 cm (16 inch) long. End of May all of started falling off and will need regular cleaning in the next months.

The male strobili on the Abies fraseri, Fraser fer, (Dutch: Fraserspar) in The main garden compartment (see Evergreen trees), that showed up in March/April now develop beautiful colors.

The male strobili on the Abies Procera glauca (in The front garden compartment) also developed(see Evergreen trees).

The driveway in the The front garden compartment needed to be elevated and levelled. This was only required in the area of tracks caused by the weight of our car and in front of the garage door. A bluetit (Dutch: pimpelmees) in our Pinus leucodermis "Satellit". This youngster just left its nest only one day ago. The photo could be taken at just 50 cm ( 2 feet) distance.


Some (garden) activities during
April 2009.
The growth season has started early this year.
April 2009 was a very warm and dry month and hence we could develop many activities in the garden.
Part of the activities involves maintenance of structures.

Our, perhaps 18 year old, Abies fraseri, Fraser fer, (Dutch: Fraserspar) had its first cone in 2008 (see Evergreen trees).
Now in 2009 it has a lot of new buds and also dozens of (female) cones and male strobili.
Also see the History of changes for details on changes.

This is our Wisteria sinensis (see: Deciduous trees) in full bloom on May 3rd 2009.

The Wisteria is located in the main garden compartment close to the Buddhist triad stone arrangement. This spring it starts with over 600 flower strings or racemes. The flowers are produced in pendulous racemes up to over 40 cm (16 inch) long. Intertwined these can show even much longer than that.

The groundcover you see here has only recently been cleared from mosses. See: Unwanted moss removal.

Early growth implies early spraying so as to prevent harm by eating, nibbling or sucking insects. This is in particular important for the Karikomi and hako-zukuri.

An effective more or less preventive internal agent is based on the active substance Imidacloprid
(see Harmfull insects on planting (internal agent) ).
Some groundcovers have grown too far into the gravel of the Ginshanada.

Here you see the Chamaemelum nobile "treneaguei" (Dutch: Loopkamille) in the main garden compartment.
We decided to use a two-edged sword to reduce the maintenance effort regarding clipping of the herb garden and to improve the surrounding of Mount Sumeru in the main garden Tsukiyama and in the left side compartment if possible.

As a result of the "erection" of Shumisen in August 2008 the Tsukiyama Planting needs some improvements and that is where we can re-use the buxus hedges that we take out of the herb garden.

Herw a photo of the herb garden compartiments in early 2009.
Here you see the removal of part of the buxus hedges. Taking them out and planting them back in different locations took a hard day of work.

What we did is take out most of the "double" hedges. Each and every herb garden compartment had its own boundary. This looks nice but asks for a lot of clipping and also reduces the area that is actually available to grow herbs.

Later we will show the new look.
The bottom layer of the delimiting wall in the front garden compartment got almost overgrown by grass.
We took out a small strip of soil and grass to give it some more space and make it easier to mow. The grass area is not a part of the garden but belongs to the public space.
We ordered (25 kg, 55 pounds) sacks of sand for levelling work in whole of the garden. Having this in bags is more expensive but makes the job more easy. Easier to carry and also easier to divide the work in time.
Our garden furniture needed some upgrade. In addition to the purchase of new chairs and a bench we painted most of it "ebony" black.
And then the real hard work !
After some 10 years the level of the garden has lowered by about 10 cm (4 inch). We decided to up-lift and level the veranda and duckboards and as a result to also take along the gutter.

Some detail of this work, that took a full week, can be seen in: Constructing the Veranda, duckboards and gutter.
Changing the modus operandus of the Main garden tsukubai from its winter mode of operation to the summer state.
This is not only re-filling the chozubachi and the underground container but also the cleaning-up and levelling etc. (see: Constructing the Main Tsukubai and Turtle Island lakes)

In addition the pump of the Turtle Island lakes need to be installed (See: The front garden compartment and Turtle Island lakes construction).

Yet an other pump that needs to be installed is the Watering supply and irrigation or sprinkler-system pump.
Unwanted Mosses and lichen in ground covers are also regarded weeds.
The only save way we found so far is an extremely cumbersome, and little effective annual, manual job (see Bottom surface ).
Use of an agent based on the active substrate of iron sulfate is under investigation, thus far without encouraging results. As not only the moss Hygrohypnum luridum (Hygrohypnum Moss, Dutch: Gewoon spatwatermos) but also the groundcover turned black.
This photo was taken shortly after a pilot treatment.

See the early May results: Unwanted moss removal (using chemicals part).
Last but not least the groundwork.

This shows the water side terrace (see: Terraces, walls and stairs) at the water front (back side) compartment.
The terrace has subsided to the waterfront and needed to be raised and levelled.
The same being true for the stairs (top photo).

Some (garden) activities during
March 2009.
Garden activities have just started in March. Still interesting additions to this web side.

We finished our study into the Samurai residence gardens of the Edo era.

We finaly came to construct a Yotsumigaki bamboo entrance fence to replace the temporarily solution that we have had for too many years.

The Ginshanada and other gravel area's in Tsubo-en occupy a large area that needs to be tip-top clean and neatly straight and/or raked into patterns. A typical early spring activity.

Some (garden) activities during
January and February 2009.
Little garden activity in these days but the more developments on the web.

After completion of Build and construction of the integral design
and addition of
A collection of video clips related to Japanese gardens and gardening,
we have put a lot of effort in adding a collection of genuine and authentic Japanese examples, and included a Visual Table of Contents for these examples.

See the History of changes for details.



Some (garden) activities during
November and December 2008.
Little garden activity now. On 23rd November we had our first 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 inch) winter snow and also the first frost has come.
I am putting a lot of work in the infrastructure and build section of our "virtual garden".

A first winter view from the living.




Lots of leafs all over the place that need to be removed.


Leaving old leafs and other debris in your garden is like putting out a welcome mat for pests and pathogens. Many insects over winter in such debris, and they will get an early start nibbling on your plants the following spring.

Some (garden) activities during
October 2008.

This was a busy pruning and clipping month with a lot of work in our "virtual garden".
We have added a Visual Table of Contents to the website, for easy navigation.
Thinning out the Acer Palmatum (see: Deciduous trees) behind the front garden chozubachi as part of the Tsukubai arangement.

Prunning and clipping the Larix (see: Deciduous trees) in the front garden compartment.



Pruning of the Acer platanoides "Royal Red" in the main garden compartment.

Prunning the Abies (see: Evergreen trees) on the Turtle Island.

Some garden (and house) activities during
September 2008, a very busy month.

Piet (author) painting.

Marijke removing Unwanted mosses from the groundcover.

Removing weeds from the water front groundcover.
Clipping of the O-karikomo.

Removing the dried flowers that contain lots of firtile seeds, before they populate the Ginshanada.

The Cotula groundcover would easily overgrow the tobi-ishi step stones.

Some garden activities during August 2008.

17th August Mount Sumeru erected after 10 year of "dormancy".

Mount Sumeru or Shumi-sen, 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 (The virtual guided tour updated).

This is the current (new) placement.....
Some plants need to grow and reshape...
Chapter Tsukiyama updated to reflect the new situation.

At the time of garden construction, early 1999 this
stone was put on its flat side by a tower wagon.
Here with a blooming Wisteria sinensis.
We found this stone at a local stonecutter. At the time (1999) there where two of them. This was the larger one with the best shape and proportions for our purpose. They had been ordered by an artist who decided not to buy them.
To not set it upright had two reasons. My wife, Marijke found it far to prominent. At the time, I could live with this compromise to at least have this magnificent stone in the garden, and to better fit with the proportions and scale of the planting at the time.

However, with the maturing of the planting this more and more continued to rankle.... that is with me.
After three full days of hard labor on my own, to move, lift, erect and turn this stone on the 17th of August 2008, we have already learned to treat it with respect.
Only at the last day, to be able to turn it with the right side to the pathway and Ginshanada, without letting it fall, I got help from a neighbour.

Ingenious but dangerous construction to lift it !

One gets very inventive.
I found this exercise a challenge not only for my physical powers (being a 62 kilogram (136 lbs) guy) but even more so for my intellectual skills....

Nonetheless I damaged my glasses. Wonder if this would have happened if we had properly carried out a "Ground breaking ceremony" 11.


After uplifting it and moving it (to the right, it had to go into this hole

After this the only thing left was to turn it 90 degrees....

Considering all this we now regard this stone as our, or better the Tsubo-en, "Iwakura" or "Iwasaku", a rock or "rock seat", venerated as divine. Although we are no Shintoists nor Taoists, we think this beautiful stone at this dedicated location is worthy to house a kami.

What was very suprising is that I only now found out that our Mt. Sumeru shows near resemblance with the mountain at the center-right of a Japanese monochrome ink landscape depicted on page 118 in the book "Zen culture" by Thomas Hoover (1977) [5]. Not only the shape but also the coloration of black and white.

This is the black and white version:


And this the upper part of the Japanese monochrome ink landscape (Hoover):


Below some garden activities during July 2008.


This is the hedgerow in the left-garden.
Some fifty percent of the Ilex (hulst) planted some eight years ago have died by now.
Conclusion: planted too deep !


And this is the result with the 100 Thuja occidentalis "Braband", after a professional job.

The plan is to clip them straight like a wall.
The coots have two youngsters.

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