Garden Photo of the Day

Tokyo Gardens in November

Scenes from a Japanese garden

Today’s photos come from Cynthia Cox. She lives in Oklahoma City, but today she’s sharing photos from a trip she took to Tokyo.

I moved from an acre lot to a downtown apartment in 2017. I definitely miss my gardens, but I still get pleasure in visiting public gardens in my hometown of Oklahoma City and when I travel. These pictures are from Rikugien Garden in Northwest Tokyo. This beautiful garden is located behind a wall hidden from the surrounding neighborhood. The Japanese maples and ginko trees were in full glorious fall color. This was definitely one of the most gorgeous public gardens I’ve ever visited.

A massive Japanese cherry tree (Prunus serrulata, Zones 5–8). When in bloom, these trees are of course an iconic part of the Japanese spring, but the branching structure is lovely even without the leaves.

This beautifully shaped pine is an example of a niwaki, which is a tree pruned and shaped using techniques similar to those used in bonsai but on full-size trees and shrubs. Because these trees are such carefully shaped works of art, it’s crucial that the branches not be damaged by heavy snow loads. So the tree is topped with a pole and a pyramid of supporting ropes going down to each branch to give it extra support.

Here’s another large tree framed with a beautiful pyramid of supporting ropes. These structures are are beautiful as they are practical for protecting trees.

The bright fall colors of Japanese maples (Acer palmatum, Zones 6–9) and other trees light up the garden.

This perfect view of the garden showcases the lovely branches of the Japanese maples, a perfectly simple bridge, and, in the foreground, Kuma bamboo grass (Sasa veitchii, Zones 6–9). This bamboo’s leaves develop straw-colored margins during the winter.

A perfectly placed spotlight highlights the drama of a Japanese maple in full autumnal color.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    treasuresmom 02/07/2019

    Love it all. Thank you for sharing about niwaki. I did not know about that.

  2. User avater
    simplesue 02/07/2019

    I love the Sasa types of bamboo, nice to see the Sasa Veitchii growing in the Tokyo garden. What a beautiful photo! I am growing Sasa Palmata in zone 6b in my garden, they are similar.

  3. wittyone 02/07/2019

    These photos are just beautiful. The last one is spectacular and so dramatic with the lighting.

  4. btucker9675 02/07/2019

    Thank you for these beautiful photos - especially love the bare branches of the Japanese cherry tree.

  5. cheryl_c 02/07/2019

    Thank you for sharing pictures from this beautiful garden. For those wishing to know more about Niwaki, Timber Press published a book in 2007 by Jake Hobson that explores these techniques, and an autobiographical book by Leslie Buck that describes her apprenticeship with a Kyoto gardening company. Both are excellent reading.

  6. User avater
    RodgerMckinley 09/19/2019


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