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Jake Hobson – Niwaki: Interpreting Garden Trees Outside of Japan

Photo by James Bowden

Author, sculptor and pruning expert Jake Hobson will explore interpretations of the use of trees in Japanese gardens and how to reinterpret their use outside of Japan — both in the context of Japanese-style gardens in the west, and gardens of other styles. He will touch on topics including the selection and use of plants that serve as alternatives to Japanese natives, and how to incorporate Japanese pruning styles into other types of gardens. Drawing on years of experience working and learning in both Japan and the U.K., Jake will focus on the concept of what constitutes authenticity, and challenge the boundaries between eastern and western approaches to pruning.


Jake Hobson first traveled to Japan after completing a degree in sculpture at London’s Slade School of Fine Arts. Intrigued by the pruning techniques he encountered there, Jake spent two years working at a traditional nursery in the countryside outside of Osaka before returning to the U.K. to apply the skills he learned to non-Japanese plants. He spent the following five years at the Architectural Plants nursery in West Sussex. As a keen observer of the artistry of gardens with the eye of a sculptor, Jake experiments with how to apply niwaki skills to non-Japanese plants. In 2004, he set up Niwaki Japanese Garden Tools with his wife, Keiko. A member of the Royal Horticultural Society, the European Boxwood and Topiary Society, and the Japanese Garden Society of the U.K., he has written for the specialist journal Topiarus and regularly delivers lectures on Japanese pruning techniques throughout the U.K. He resides in Shaftesbury, England.

Signed copies of Jake Hobson’s book, Niwaki: Pruning, Training and Shaping Trees the Japanese Way (Timber Press), will be available at the event.

This lecture is sponsored by Hasegawa Kogyo Co., Ltd. The event is part of the International Japanese Garden Training Center’s 2018 public lecture series. The Center is supported by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership.