Happy New Year [and cheers Jake]

I can't believe we're nearing the end of the first week in 2012. Happy New Year seems a bit belated, however it's perfectly normal to wish you a bonne année at any time through January in France, right up to the thirty first, so I may wish you another Happy New Year in just under four weeks time!

Daylength is slowing increasing. By the end of the month, it'll have extended by just under an hour at this latitude. My thoughts have already turned to longer days. Above is rose 'Golden showers' pictured last year a little before the longest day.

The weather at the moment is ideal; breezy and mild with no hard frost forecast, so a perfect window in which to get on and do the high altitude pruning necessary for golden showers to become a splendiferous thing by next Summer solstice.

Pruning this year has been a dream. This Christmas, Karen bought me a pair of Japanese 'Okatsune' secateurs together with a swiss sharpening stone from a company called Niwaki. These are simply the best secateurs I have ever used. No splaying, no crushing just the sharpest, cleanest cut possible.

I came across Niwaki some time ago when company founder, Jake Hobson contacted me to see if he could use a picture from my blog for a forthcoming book. No problem. The rest is history as they say, and now I'm into Japanese steel, it's a beautiful thing. Cheers Jake!

Finally, can I point out that I received no 'kickback' or any financial gain whatsoever from Niwaki and that no children or animals were harmed in writing this post.

Happy New Year!


  1. Weird weather here. So mild but storms sweeping in the last few days. Have a great 2012.

  2. Happy New Year Rob - may it treat you and those that you love kindly :) Would be happy to swap your weather for ours - where you have breezy we have gale force winds. The outdoor Christmas lights are at peril of still being up on Twelfth Night as it's not safe for himself to go up a ladder at present. Already a Niwaki fan - bought a pair of their Otakasune snips last year which I regularly used at the allotment last year. Congratulations on your photo being featured in Jake's forthcoming book :)

  3. Happy New year, Rob! I have steel envy, now. Thanks.

  4. Bonne année. I cannot belive this mild weather we are having, I hope it is not the lull before the storm. We have had more rain in the last 2 months than the rest of the year and there are still plants growing and flowering which should be long gone. Diane

  5. Hi Hermes

    We've had barely any frost this winter, the winter storms battering the UK are in the news here.

    Anna, I wouldn't risk it with the lights.
    The snips are really something. I'm actually looking at the cooking knives right now. Jake's book is currently published, well worth picking up a copy.

    Marie Happy New Year. They ship worldwide by the way.

    Diane hi, the rain has been necessary after such a dry 2011. I feared another dry winter and we'd all be on severe water restrictions come the warmer months.

  6. Happy New Year Rob! Gorgeous photos of your breathtaking gardens. Who would not want to use any of your garden photos. Best Wishes for 2012!

  7. hi Rob, bonne année ! I got inspiration from your concrete balls, and I have my own small one now ! Process to be perfected though on my side !

  8. Happy New Year! Can't wait to locate Niwaki here, as well!

  9. No doubt your rose will be splendid when it blooms, especially with the lavender underneath it. I will have to look into ordering some sort of sharpening stone; all of tools are too dull.


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