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Nothing brings a touch of artistry to the garden like ornamental pruning, and a series of deliberate cuts can create landscapes and evoke faraway places.

Getting creative with tree/shrub pruning

All that's needed to recreate the effect in the garden are a sharp pair of pruners, some imagination, and the instruction found in The Art of Creative Pruning. Drawing 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.

Picture boxwoods trimmed into whimsical Russian nesting dolls, hedges inscribed with words, and a tree snipped to resemble the toppling tiers of a wedding cake. These are just a few of the unusual ideas featured in the beautifully photographed pages.

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All the practical considerations are here as well, including pruning to improve a view, remedial pruning to fix problems, and pruning fruit trees to increase yield. I remember reading that he still gets a buzz every time he turns on his amplifier and feels the hum of electricity flow through his guitar. This made quite an impression on me—since the beginning of his musical career, Lou has probably turned on his amp most days, and it was inspiring to read that each time he does, he feels the same excitement, the same potential of what the day might bring, as he did when he was a teenager.

Granted, pruning is not quite rock and roll, but I get a similar feeling to that guitar amp buzz that Lou described every time I reach for my pruning tools at the beginning of the day. The anticipation of the damp morning dew soaking my shirt sleeves, the sweet smell of fresh box, or boxwood, clippings, the sun—or rain—on my back and the satisfying first clip of the day through to the inevitable aches and blisters that will arrive later that evening.

I love the physical action of pruning, in all its manifestations. I love climbing up ladders and chopping things down.

I love the quick jobs that only take five minutes but achieve so much, and the satisfied feeling at the end of a demanding job well done. Most of all I love the results: the effect that a few deliberate cuts, or years and years of gradual teasing can have, not just on a plant, but the whole garden. I love the way pruning can create landscapes, evoke far off places and memories and how it can surprise and even shock, focusing and distracting viewers by turns. I love its solidity and permanence, but also its fragility and the grey area it occupies between man and nature, gardener and garden.

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What qualifies as creative topiary or decorative pruning? Anything really, when approached from the right direction and with the right mindset, but I get particularly excited by interesting forms, ambitious scale, unusual plant types not so much exotic as unexpected surprising contexts, breathtaking locations, visible enthusiasm on the part of the owner or creator and a generally vibrant atmosphere. Gardens in Provence, France, tend to score heavily when it comes to location—Gourdon, hanging onto a cliff face suspended over a rocky valley, is one such spectacular example, while the Keage water treatment plant in Kyoto, Japan, although clearly not the most glamorous place in the world, does have the most amazing repetition of azalea blobs planted on its banks, the sheer weight of numbers there achieving a look that more sophisticated gardens could not.

Where do I draw the line? There is no room in this book for animal topiary—no teddy bears or squirrels allowed, although since writing this, I have noticed that one or two examples seem to have somehow crept in.


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If that upsets you, write your own book. On the other hand, although pruning itself is not weighed down with creative potential, I rank agricultural hedge flailing—the cutting of farmland hedgerows by tractors armed with lethal flailing chains as practised in the UK—as a highly sculptural process that is fully worthy of inclusion in this book.

Some people disapprove of this method for environmental reasons, but the sight of a well-flailed hedge running across the countryside is as inspirational to me as any garden I have seen. If you still feel any doubt about the possibilities and potential of agricultural pruning, as opposed to horticultural pruning, look no further than the tea plantations in the Far East, where bizarre landscapes of tea cover entire valleys like limestone pavements.

During the creation of this book, I have become much more aware of how interconnected the various genres of pruning I was thinking about actually are. When I began writing, I started off with a very clearly defined list of chapters and sub-sections. It soon became clear, however, that it was not chapters that were called for, but some sort of family tree, or a map of a river system with endless tributaries, flood plains, backwaters and oxbow lakes—or even some vast web of interconnected strands.

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A Venn diagram of pruning turns into one large circle that encompasses everything and excludes nothing, so please forgive any apparently erratic subdivisions and understand the dilemmas I faced in writing this book. Eventually I settled on chapters covering topiary and shaping, cloud pruning and organic topiary, hedges, niwaki and Japanese-influenced pruning, decorative tree pruning and a slightly indulgent look at creative pruning. See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly.

Overview Nothing brings a touch of artistry to the garden like ornamental pruning, and a series of deliberate cuts can create landscapes and evoke faraway places.

Download The Art Of Creative Pruning Inventive Ideas For Training And Shaping Trees And Shrubs

About the Author Jake Hobson draws upon years of experience with Japanese gardens and landscaping. A keen observer of the artistry of gardens, Hobson recieved his bachelor's degree in sculpture. He lives in the UK. Show More. Instead of peacocks and rabbits you will see boxwood shaped to reveal a row of Russian dolls and hedges carved with graffiti.

Innovatively photographed works in formal gardens around the world are presented here alongside well illustrated step-by-step projects, encouraging you immediately to pick up some pruners and begin to experiment with this creative, therapeutic form of garden art.

Product details Format Hardback pages Dimensions x x Review quote "This coffee table book exceeds expectations. A keen observer of the artistry of gardens, Jake now runs his own pruning equipment and consultancy business, and experiments with mixing pruning styles from the East and the West. A love of sculpture and nature makes him particularly interested in how we relate to certain landscapes and elements of nature, and how the combination of horticulture, sculpture and nature can be expressed in gardens.

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