Jake Hobson and Creative Pruning

Ripe for Pruning

The buxus hedge in the picture above – ripe for pruning!

Jake Hobson is a cloud pruning specialist, and we love his work here at Modern Mint.

But what is creative pruning/organic topiary? It is a step away from the traditional or old-fashioned forms of topiary and into something with a freer form, something that has movement to it, an opulence, a life force. We realise we are heading into esoteric territory here, but we are talking about a creative act, one that works best when hedge and pruner are working together symbiotically… the pruner bringing attention to a shape half hidden, the plant guiding the pruner to how it really wants to grow.

(The other day we heard a philosophy about bringing up children; that your children are only on loan to you, they are not to keep. Try all you might and worry all you will, but one day they will have to go. This gives you something of the flavour of organic topiary – you can exert your influence, but the hedge must also do its own thing!)

There is a lot of fun to be had with the terms associated to Organic Topiary; ‘blobberies’ and ‘twmps’ distort language as much as the style distorts our expectations of the traditional topiary shapes. Formality and grandeur is out, skewed and peculiar are in.

The video below is from a series Carol Klein did in her own garden. In it, Jake Hobson cloud prunes a box hedge (“elevate this hedge into art!” she says) his section starts around the 18.50 mark…

We love what they were trying to do with the hedge, linking its shape to the landscape beyond it…

“It should be natural and organic looking, with just a little bit of definition to it, and nothing too strong or dramatic.”

But imagine pruning it with a sharper intent, to create contrast amongst unrestrained grasses or a meadow. That would look fantastic too.

In his book ‘The Art of Creative Pruning’ Jake Hobson asks where pruning might go next, “… trends change, but for every decline there follows a revival.  The influence of the East will surely continue to grow, along with an informal style of pruning that embraces natural, organic forms. Conversely, formal topiary and traditional western skills will continue to thrive as people refine, and redefine, them.”

We love organic topiary and think it suits modern gardens perfectly – clients want something (if not fully bespoke) then most definitely unusual, and this is the most low impact and gratifying way to deliver it. Do please give us a call if you wish to discuss a possible creative pruning or organic topiary project you might have. The subject is close to our hearts!

Topiary books and Jake Hobson’s ‘The Art of Creative Pruning’…

The Art of Creative Pruning: Inventive Ideas for Training and Shaping Trees and Shrubs

Niwaki: Pruning, Training and Shaping Trees the Japanese Way

Topiary: Garden Craftsmanship in Yew and Box

A Practical Guide to Topiary

… and this beautiful book from Jacques Wirtz…

The Gardens of Wirtz


Save Ryton Organic Gardens!

There seems to be some underhand shenanigans going on here. Bob Flowerdew is threatening to resign. We face losing the UK’s cornerstone organic garden. So please take a look at what is going on via the Facebook group…. go on! Go Now! Save Ryton Organic Gardens!


Garden Design Trends 2018

shed garden trend

Today we will be looking at Garden Design Trends in 2018. Just so you are in the know about what is cool and what is not cool in the 12 months ahead…. For the past like, million years I have shared my thoughts on what the gardening industry tell us the latest trends are going to be. If you are interested, you can see here the garden design trends for 2017. Or take a peek at my favourite of all the posts I have written – Alternative Garden Design Trends. This is my individual take on what the latest garden design …



Northern Forest – UK Plans For 50 Million New Trees

Well now, this is interesting…. UK Plans 50 Million New Trees in Northern Forest Likely? See the pitfalls? We love the idea and wholeheartedly support as much tree planting as possible. But are seriously doubtful that this is more than a sticking plaster solution to England being so vastly ‘under-treed’…. or should that be ‘overfelled?’ Yet whether this idea happens or not, all we ask is that you please make sure you plant as many trees as you can in your garden!