Meet David, our Expert Japanese Gardener

David Tweddle, specialist gardener at Capel Manor College’s Enfield campus shares his experiences working for Capel Manor Gardens, how he honed his Japanese gardening expertise, as well as revealing interesting facts about the College’s Japanese Garden.

David joined our Gardens team around 15 years ago and was given the task of redeveloping our specialist Japanese Garden. The garden was originally developed in 1989 and created in 1990. Recognising the importance and very specific skills needed to maintain such a garden, David asked to train in Japan.

Mastering his craft in Kyoto

David went on to enrol in Kyoto’s largest landscape company Ueyakato Landscape where he worked with highly-skilled designers and gardeners (including one of the eight remaining master gardeners in Japan), and he has continued this overseas work, one season every year since 2012.

Training in Japan has provided David with unrivalled first-hand experience, and he has used the wealth of knowledge he has gained to transform and evolve the College’s Japanese Garden into a modern-style design.

Our Japanese Garden

The Garden contains three areas; a Zen-style garden, a stroll-style garden and tea-style garden and along with the help of one of the Garden’s supporters, Rhino Rock, David has developed the design with the goal of creating a garden you would see in Japan itself. This is no mean feat as it requires a delicate mix of the right atmosphere, topography and balance within the designs.

The Zen garden has been redesigned to feature more garden elements and to pay homage to the Japanese ideal of bringing the garden to the city. The stroll garden includes many features such as a waterfall on every corner with the idea being that visitors can take their time, wandering and stopping to see lots of different eye-catching elements.

The tea garden is a concept created by Sen no Rikyū, a Japanese tea master from the 15th century who perfected tea ceremony – including the tea garden landscaping around it – raising it to a level of art. David has incorporated elements of this concept in our Japanese Garden with an ‘outer roji’, which translates to ‘mountain path’, symbolising that when visitors come through the gate into the Garden, they leave all their troubles behind. The Tea House within the Garden was developed and designed in 1990, it is currently being refurbished and should hopefully reopen to the public soon.

Have you visited our 30-acre estate and experienced all of our various gardens, including our very popular Japanese Garden? Visit Capel Manor Gardens for further details on our opening times and upcoming events.

Create your own Japanese Garden

David now trains our students and volunteers on how to develop and nurture Japanese gardens, plants and trees. As space is at a premium in Japan, trees need to be kept to the size of a young tree but allowed to mature within those dimensions of a young tree. This specialist technique takes a lot of skill and experience to implement in order to control the growth of the tree while allowing it to flourish at the same time.

You do not need a great space to create your own Japanese garden as David explains, you can start with an Acer, look at rocks, water or stones to represent dry gardens. You can combine different ideas to get that aesthetic. After all, a Japanese Garden is meant to be a place of relaxation and calm, an area to recharge and rest the mind to restore balance.

Feeling inspired to study horticulture?

Capel Manor College has been a centre for horticultural studies since 1968 and has developed an unrivalled reputation for excellence and strong industry links.

We offer a variety of full and part-time horticulture courses at all of our campuses across London. We also have a range of horticulture apprenticeships available.

By studying with us, you will be introduced to a unique array of plant species and collections, both within our campuses and across the capital, providing you with the opportunity to work within some of London’s most prestigious parks and gardens.

Discover your potential at London’s environmental college. Browse courses and apply online today.