Monday, 7 November 2016


Nothing brings a touch of artistry to the garden like ornamental pruning, and a sequence of premeditated cuts can produce landscapes and evoke faraway places. All that's needed to restructure the effect in the garden are a sharp pair of pruners, some imagination, and the instruction found in The Art of Creative Pruning. Depiction on both eastern and western styles, author Jake Hobson moves beyond the traditional lollipops and animals and teaches a wholly new approach to ornamental pruning that appeals to modern sensibilities.

Jake Hobson's pruning style is a merge of organic cloud pruning and traditional Japanese niwaki pruning, creating beautiful and unusual shapes from trees and shrubs which would not be out of place surrounding a fairy tale castle.
He initially trained as a sculptor at the Slade and developed an interest in gardens during a visit to Japan, where he ended up living for two years, working at a conventional tree nursery in Osaka and learning the art of pruning in the Japanese style.
Jake Hobson’s style can be used to stunning effect to generate unusual flowing shapes and that are a far cry from the rigid and structured topiary we have come to associate with stately gardens.
A well-pruned plant can summon up far-off places, elicit surprise or shock, and even make you laugh. This is no usual book about pruning but one that explores its creative side, unveiling sculptural landscapes that feature boxwoods trimmed into whimsical Russian nesting dolls, hedges inscribed with words, and a tree snipped to resemble the toppling tiers of a wedding cake.
Wielding the pruners is a fun activity. While clipping may not come as expected to all, Jake Hobson's unique blend of east-meets-west topiary is compelling, his enthusiasm infectious, and his instructions clear as he exhorts us to "Clip hard, be brave and learn from your mistakes." His cheering advice is supported by a wealth of information about which plants to use, how to achieve the desired shape, and when to prune.
A far cry from classic topiary, the artfully clipped plants showcased here are lively and fresh. With a sturdy emphasis on free-form, naturalistic pruning they blend seamlessly into their surroundings: trees are pruned to reflect the wider landscape; a boxwood ball is used as a repeating motif that adds to the overall coherence of a garden, and a billowing cloud-pruned hedge defines the character of an outdoor space.

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