Paris COP21

Paris COP21

This week in Paris, global leaders are coming together to decide on a plan to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions internationally.

Although this may seem distant, we can recognize as lovers of gardens and plants that we can play our part in climate regulation and reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It’s important for us as individual gardeners to be aware that we are a part of a larger community of gardeners within Tokyo and the rest of Japan. Within this community, we can do a lot individually and together to help reduce emissions. Luckily, as garden lovers, plants can help with this by absorbing CO2… So let’s keep planting trees, shrubs and flowers and make Tokyo and Japan an even more beautiful place to live!

Please click on the following links for more information:
日本語版: NHK page
Japan Conservation Society blog page

English: COP21 International page

... and to find out how Japan's youth are getting involved, please click here: Japan's Youth Climate Action


YKK AP Award Ceremony

Two weeks ago I had my first conference event at Niwashyu. This was actually an award ceremony for an exterior design created by Hayano san, the head of Niwashyu. The opening to the ceremony included an exciting video walk-through of presumably the latest designs and materials. Many talented architects were present and we saw some interesting design innovations, I also gained a further picture of how Japanese people are designing their garden spaces in Tokyo. Additionally, YKK gave a presentation about the kind of materials and styles of fences, flooring etc. that they are supplying architects and customers with. I really wanted to ask… do you use recycled materials, and do you talk to customers about the source of these? I also wanted to ask about perspectives of encouraging wildlife in gardens (such as butterflies, bees and birds), as is becoming popular in the UK. Perhaps questions for future meetings!

The designs exhibited were modern and clean cut, with a focus on decking in seating areas (if space) or the use of evergreen plants and minimalist tiling (if space was at a premium). Garden owners on an international scale usually want increasingly cost effective options independent of the space available, which often results in low maintenance designs. In Europe, many Asian plant species are used in gardens, however it is encouraging to see that native plants are still used in Japanese gardens. It will be interesting to see how preferences and designs change into the future. I hope for further use of native plants species, and the encouragement of more native flowers.

One of the few ladies present (an interior designer who was a judge for the awards), dressed in beautiful green kimono that apparently reflected her design style, spoke up to encourage more women into the profession. Well said! It’s always great to hear this kind of inspiration for women, no matter the business. She is a great role model for future women exterior and interior designer.

The award ceremony emphasized that the Japanese are very innovative within the small spaces they have to work with, and simplicity really works well with this. The designs were elegant and aesthetically pleasing, however, I cannot help but be a fan of native plants that encourage wildlife and am hoping to see them used in future designs. Maybe, once I’ve mastered some more of the language… this is something I can help to do!

After the event, it was great to be able to talk to some of the YKK representatives and learn more about their work. A very interesting and fun day out of the office! I would like to thank Hayano san and YKK AP for the warm invitation and reception during the award ceremony.


My first few weeks at Niwashyu as an intern

とても面白い!(...Or very interesting!) I have been initiated into a very hard working team, with a friendly, positive and determined attitude towards work. I began my internship by learning how to do the landscape design drawings of birds-eye and perspective views for clients. I love to draw, so this was a great start and something I look forward to doing more of.

English clotted cream gifts meet Japanese adzuki bean sweets!

Since then, I have been getting my hands covered in my favourite stuff – soil! The maintenance work has been physically tough (no exercise needed in the evening / weekend!) But it keeps you fit and there's always an美味しい (tasty) lunch! During this work, I’ve had the chance to help choose plants, giving me an awareness of the seasonality of this work and the species available for city dwellers to grow. I have enjoyed meeting each of Niwashyu’s clients thus far, and learning about their preferences for garden plants. I have noted there is a general liking of low maintenance evergreens and subtle colours. Additionally, there seems to be a preference towards English and contemporary Japanese garden styles, rather than traditional Japanese gardens. I would like to take the opportunity during this blog post to ask Niwashyu clients how wildlife other than plants (for example, birds, bees, insects etc.) are considered in the garden – are these a part of the decisions made when choosing plants?

Arranging flowers chosen from the garden center for a client’s balcony.

Currently, English gardeners are learning more about the importance of wildlife in gardens (both urban and rural), and as a consequence are incorporating more native, bee friendly flowers into garden designs. This recent development in garden design has been inspired by a greater awareness of global bee population decline due to loss of food and living space from farming and urban expansion. Is this something that modern Japanese gardens will also adapt?

Something that may be of inspiration to Tokyo gardeners is some of the leading work already happening in 銀座 (Ginza) -

More information about the importance of using bee friendly plants can be seen here -

So, it’s been a busy first few weeks, but highly productive and educational! I’m looking forward to the rest of my time here, meeting more clients and understanding what they want from their urban gardens.













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