Perfectly-manicured vistas are the norm whenever you visit a daimyo teien. According to Rikugien gardener Koichi Nemoto, maintaining those lovely vistas “requires constant work, with no room for delay”.
For example, in the month after the rhododendrons have finished flowering, gardeners at Rikugien prune a thousand of the plants, while at the same time carrying out other tasks like removing new shoots from pine trees and making unexpected repairs to paths. It's a constant race to keep up with nature.
Then there is the nuisance of trees dropping leaves, most obviously in autumn and winter, but this actually happens throughout the year. Blown by the wind into ponds and rivers, leaves accumulate at the bottom, contaminating the water, and producing an unpleasant odor, particularly during hot weather. Koishikawa Korakuen gardener Hiroshi Kimura and his team must therefore dredge the river on a monthly basis to avoid visitors being assailed by bad smells.
Each daimyo teien has dedicated gardeners on-site working throughout the year on maintaining and managing the garden. The gardens contain centuries-old trees and herbaceous plants with attractive seasonal displays, and monitoring these to ensure they stay healthy is an essential aspect of the job. For the gardeners, every day is a battle with the restless seasons, dealing with everything from weather events, such as typhoons and snow, to insect infestations caused by global warming.