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     Marijke & Piet.

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“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.


2 comments to “Less is more”? Overall measurements to reduce maintenance

  • Carla Amorim

    This makes me sad my friend… I wish you can arrange a solution and get some help to keep your beautiful garden as it is. I am sure that there must be a way you can maintain it and keep it just as you have dreamed for.
    Best regards, be safe!

  • Thank Carla.
    Although part of this looks like demolition, we have a good feeling that eventually this will give a good result. With Bonsai-like trees. However this may take a few years.
    Regards, Marijke & Piet.