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Years ago, we planted 5 or 6 juniper at the end of our blacktop driveway to hide a wood pile. A few years later, they were taller than DH could reach to prune or in any way control. For a couple of years, when the tree man came to prune things we couldn’t reach, he would wack at our juniper (not a “big wack” like they perform on crepe myrtles), but they quickly grew even taller than the year before, and even more out of reach of DH!
Then one day DH had an epiphany. He asked tree man to prune them to a height DH could reach with a hedge clipper, approximately 7 feet tall. I thought he might be planning a horizontal hedge but the sides looked pretty unkempt and I was sure DH would have asked tree man to prune sides if that is what he had wanted.
Then, DH started with hedge clippers to remove most of each tree to its “essentials.” He said he got in tune with the trees and cut away what did not look like a horizontal “cloud.” DH independently discovered “cloud pruning,” a Japanese art known as “niwaki.” It is truly beautiful and inspiring. Books on the art are available on Amazon.But to convince others who live in a fairly old-fashioned neighborhood of neo-Georgian architecture homes, I call them “topiaries” so nobody gets even a little freaky. Do you have anything like our niwakis in your neighborhood? “Full-size bonsai” is what our God-daughter calls them.
We also have three juniper that were started as topiary or niwaki about 20+ years ago at a local nursery that we installed along our walkway to our patio that we have very slowly let grow and have had to prune most carefully to keep them from invading the walkway:
There is a web site offering tools from Japan for niwaki.
Some of our favorite local gardens that have fantastic topiary are Ladew Gardens and Longwood Gardens. Go visit them if you can. Do you know of niwaki or topiary gardens in your area that you could share with our readers? If so, drop us a line…