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Spring Arrives at Shadowlands!


Dear Friends,

Well, I managed to get up to Shadowlands today to check everything was okay for our house move tomorrow (leaving my wife to finish the packing! I got the better end of the bargain).

Anxiety over what I would find proved groundless. It is obviously a very well built house. The snow that had been at least a foot deep a few weeks ago has completely gone and on careful inspection we suffered no damage from the numerous quakes that have been besieging Japan. Just a few books had fallen from the shelves. Nothing else out of place.

But, after all the stress of the past week, I was delighted to find out what was happening in the garden! It seems that the boar that had feasted on some of the bulbs I planted in the autumn had not in fact got them all. Everywhere green shoots are breaking through the earth. It is wonderful. Then, round the base of a tree, I spotted a host of snowdrops, in their prime (see picture). I can’t wait to see all the other daffodils, crocus, bluebells and others that I laboriously planted one October day. They are of course just bulbs, but gardening in Japan, at this altitude, is new to me, and I simply have no idea what will survive the winter and what will not. Bulbs, it seems, love Hakone!

Elsewhere, I was delighted to see the three gooseberry bushes, nearly breaking leaf. And just adjacent to them, the biggest surprise of the day was spotting an almost blood red leaf poking through the earth. Amazing, my rhubarb have survived! When I planted them as seedlings in November, within a week or so the frosts came and they just disintegrated. That, I thought, was that but having had a foot of snow on them all winter, at least one seems to be loving it! What a blessing (rhubarb is hard to procure here in Japan). My prize, deep crimson rhododendron is also doing well. It lost a couple of flower buds in the snow and hard frosts, but the layer of leaf mulch seems to have done wonders. So many signs of life in the garden, after so much death.

Regards, ptarotuos

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I'm so pleased for you Ptaro and for your family that everything is well there And that you will be able to leave Tokyo-- sadly the news is still not good coming out of Japan--

21 Mar, 2011


Ptaro its heartwarming to read that all is well at Shadowlands and that you and your family are moving in tomorrow, I can well imagine the relief you must have felt upon arriving to discover this, to move is stressfull enough, even more so when one has a young family so I hope all goes well with it..
With the tragedy of all that is going on in Japan its lovely to see the new life appearing in your garden, waiting to welcome you and your family, I wish you well and hope you stay safe in your new home....

21 Mar, 2011


so pleased to hear the good news ~ im sure you will appreciate your beautiful house and garden even more now
those new plants and their lovely healthy leaves remind me of spring and hope!

all the very best for your move

21 Mar, 2011


What fantastic news you have given us :) I can sense your relief in your post...and your all the signs of vigorous life all around Shadowlands.

I noticed your wood store standing proud too :) Good job!

Will you now be staying permanently at Shadowlands or is this only for the milder months? I know you will have lots of projects to get on with...enjoy discovering your property once again and settling into your new homestead.

Your paths, edged with the fallen trees are looking very nice too. Good to get an update and to know you and your family will be breathing nice, fresh, country air away from the big city of Tokyo.

21 Mar, 2011


I am so glad to here from you ptarotuos. I was wondering how you had managed during the terrible conditions in Japan. Staying in Shadowlands will be a welcome change for you and your family.
Best wishes

21 Mar, 2011


Very pleased to heasr that all ius well, Ptaro. I hope that your move goes smoothly and look forward to hearing how Shadowlands develops.

21 Mar, 2011


What wonderful news Ptaro, there is hope ahead for you all now and those beautiful bulbs will be poking through and bringing colour to your lives, all the best for the move, so glad you can keep in touch.

23 Mar, 2011


Waste deep in boxes still, but on Monday we have a professional tree pruner in to deal with all the specimen evergreens (conifers, cedars, pines, etc). The Japanese have a very distinctive pruning style, and take it very seriously. I'll be watching throughout and taking notes. I guess it take a confident hand, lopping off branches from someone's 50-year old pride and joy. The tsu-tsu-gi (azaleas) in various states will have to go another year uncle my uncle can get here from Australia to deal with them (he's a specialist in the art of Satsuki, bonsaing azaleas, and understands their growth needs better than most). Oh, and a neighbour turned up with two gooseberry bushes he just dug up from his garden (so they obviously thrive here). That makes 5 bushes now. Back to the boxes. ptarotuos

25 Mar, 2011


You've got some nice neighbours...passing on the gooseberry bushes to you. It will be interesting for you to observe/take notes on the pruning techniques, Japanese style.

Pleased to hear you are now at Shadowlands with the family and able to continue with your development of the property.

I did wonder if you would have internet access in the mountain area at Shadowlands....seems that you have :)

Happy unpacking, Ptarotuos.

25 Mar, 2011


Hi Ptaro, glad you have arrived safe and sound. Even though you are surrounded by boxes at least you are there. Hope the tree pruning goes well, sounds facinating, please will you take some photos for us? Look forward to your next up-date.

25 Mar, 2011


Thank you for all your comments relating to Shadowlands. We have now arrived in the UK for a scheduled sabbatical research leave, which means I'll have to wait another year to see the Sakura in full bloom, and the Dogwoods. In the few days that we had at Shadowlands before we took the long flight to the UK on Friday, we managed to get some people in to thin the woods at the back, and so when we return in a year, it should not be too overgrown. Having observed the process closely (sorry, couldn't get any decent snaps), my love of vines (mostly the 'yama' - wild moutain wisteria) has diminished greatly. This plant seriously damages trees if left unchecked in its wild state. At least three spruce trees had been engulfed, and their crowns and leaders snapped and pulled down like a flies in a spider's web. However, generally the tree thinning went well, and a lot more light now penetrates the canopy and gets to the many different types of azaleas that were revealed underneath. With a bit of hard prunning, these somewhat leggy specimens should start to take better shape. But that's in a years' time. rgds, ptarotuos

3 Apr, 2011


You've had a long flight to return to the UK and it is nice that you got up to Shadowlands to tame a bit more of your property, Ptarotuos. A year is a long time to be away from will really notice the growth of your plantings when you return.

I hope the vines will behave and not continue to invade your's a bit like the ivy I have in my back garden. It grows so profusely it chokes everything else out! The azaleas that are now getting light and air will be very attractive and add great splashes of colour :)

Enjoy becoming acclimatized back in the UK...I hope you will have some garden (or even some pots) to potter in during your year back in the UK.

Spring is bursting out all over so I'm sure you'll find it is a pleasant time to be in England :)

4 Apr, 2011


i hope you have a good time in england but im sure you will miss your beautiful garden in japan. i shall look forward to seeing your photos next year!

very interested to hear about the azaleas and how to cut them properly.

4 Apr, 2011


Glad you got the trees sorted Ptaro. enjoy your sabbatical, think you have deserved it after all that has happened.

5 Apr, 2011


What a lovely blog full of hope that life is an endless circle. Life, death and life again springing forth. Enjoy your sabbatical year in the UK and maybe you will meet some Goy members at an event near you in the coming months. Our prayers continue for the people of Japan. They have been worderfully resilient in the face of the calamity which struck so unexpectedly.

14 Apr, 2011

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