Printed in UK
Published by Timber Press
Dimensions 9"x10.5", 144 pages
Hardcover. 200 colour photos, 46 drawings, 2 maps.
In Japan, trees pervade the physical landscape and have long held a lofty position in the country's spiritual and sociocultural domain. Fittingly, Japanese gardeners have fine-tuned a distinctive set of pruning techniques meant to coax out the essential characters of their garden trees, or niwaki. The approach is calculated and dramatic; niwaki are sculpted to achieve certain effects, from the appearance of maturity to an asymmetrical or even lightning-struck look.
Jake Hobson, who honed the techniques in an Osaka nursery before adapting them in West Sussex, England, encourages the reader to venture beyond familiar tree pruning methods to cultivate their very own niwaki. After giving insight into the spiritual concept of "yin and yang" and the deep-seated sociocultural emphasis on balance that underpin the approach, the author details the basic principles of Japanese tree pruning. He goes on to offer in-depth guidelines for sculpting pines, azaleas, conifers, evergreens, bamboos, and deciduous trees. He also places Japanese tree pruning in context, discussing what happens "behind the scenes" at Japanese nurseries and describing instances of niwaki in private and public gardens worldwide. Throughout the text, illustrations complement the detailed instructions, while photographs and anecdotes bring the ideas surrounding niwaki vividly to life.
Niwaki means garden tree, but implies far more—Japanese gardens are landscapes, microcosms of nature, and the trees are all shaped to fit into those landscapes. Niwaki was founded by Jake Hobson, who through a thoughtful collection of shears, secateurs, and sickles, has created a strong community of gardeners who appreciate the superb quality of Japanese craftsmanship. Originally trained as a sculptor at The Slade School of Art, Hobson looks to his hedges like a sculptor looks to a block of stone, anticipating the form waiting to reveal itself from under the deep mass of foliage. Beyond his natural skill with shears, it is his unique eye that has given Jake Hobson international acclaim. Shaping shrubs into rolling waves and pines into billows of clouds—these Japanese forms, in harmony amidst the English countryside, are a sight to behold. Read our interview with Jake Hobson in Volume II of MINKA.