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Leslie Buck – “Cutting Back” author

October 15, 2021 @ 7:00 pm 9:30 pm

Leslie Buck

Recently club members have been buzzing about a book recounting the adventures of an American woman who for three years studied the art of pruning garden landscape trees in Japan. The book was favorably reviewed in the NYTimes Summer Reading section – a rare honor. We’re pleased the author of that book, with a strong connection to the SF Bay Area, will be our speaker in October to discuss private gardens in Kyoto and show lots of photos.

Leslie Buck’s dramatic memoir, Cutting Back – My Apprenticeship in the Gardens of Kyoto, allows readers to imagine what it’s like to enter the gardens of Japan, meeting traditional craftsmen along the way, as she describes her personal journey. The book recounts Leslie travels from California to Japan where she spends a three season apprenticeship in private homes, monasteries and an Emperor’s garden working with “one of the oldest and most highly acclaimed landscape companies in Japan.” (Sadafumi Uchiyama is also curator of the Portland Japanese Garden). During her time working inside an elite pruning crew she learned how to balance strength with grace, seriousness with humor and technique with heart. One chapter features Leslie’s visit to a bonsai show in Kyoto with a local bonsai artist with a tree in the show.


Leslie was the first American woman to learn pruning from one of the most storied landscaping companies in Kyoto. Her story parallels that of Kathy Shaner who was a member of Kusamura and several other bonsai clubs before she became an apprentice of Sensei Yasuo Mitsuya in the 1990s.

Leslie Buck is currently an aesthetic pruner specializing in California natives and natural design in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has over two decades of gardening experience and a fine art degree from U.C. Berkeley and Bordeaux School of Fine Arts. Dennis Makishima, her pruning mentor, is past president of GSBF and a major leader in the creation of the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt. Mas Imazumi was Leslie’s bonsai teacher and taught at many clubs in California. Dennis and Mas are written about in Cutting Back and you will hear stories of these two bonsai leaders. If you want to learn more about Leslie her website is Lesliebuckauthor.com.

The WashintgonPost Home & Garden section also had wonderful an article discussing the experiences that led to her book – which was recently translated into Chinese.

We think this will be a very inspiring talk! 

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

600 Colorado Ave.
Palo Alto, CA 94306 United States
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