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Niwaki: This is the Japanese name for the size of cloud trees.
Ancestral and complicated art, this particular pruning aimed at creating symbolic spaces, representations of miniature landscapes in his garden, to invite meditation, is very fashionable.
Ideal for creating a Japanese zen garden, the size of cloud trees meets certain principles.
Cloud pruning, reserved for bonsai?
Not at all. And even quite the contrary. In fact, cloud pruning is more applicable to trees and shrubs grown either in pots or in the ground. Of course, it is also possible to prune a bonsai in the cloud - let's not restrict creativity - however this is not the principle originally.
Patience, rigor and perseverance are the keys to successful cloud pruning.
You should therefore ideally start on a young subject. For the more creative, it is obviously possible to dig a trench around the foot of the tree to lean it. 2 years later, you can uproot it slightly to tilt it again to another side: in this way, you will create an original and graphic shape.
The principles of cloud pruning
Cloud pruning breaks down into 4 distinct stages. The first is to study the subject to be pruned. Indeed, for an effective niwaki, one must study the existing structure of the tree or shrub, otherwise pruning will be missed.
Once the structure is well appreciated, it is necessary to "trim": we clean and prune the tree / shrub. Dead wood, small unruly branches, etc. are deleted. You will see, at this stage, your shrub or tree will already be more airy.
Finally, you can proceed to the separation of the masses that will constitute the clouds. For this you will need to rely on the size of the branches, their direction and the overall movement of your shrub.
Warning: to prune your cloud masses, you will need to bring a small bonsai pruner previously cleaned with alcohol, to avoid the transmission of diseases, and cut the small branches that protrude from the cloud. But you will also need to cut the small shoots below the cloud by hand in order to give a pure line.
Cloud pruning seems rather complex, and indeed it requires rigor. But know this: there are some great books out there that expand and explain everything there is to know about cloud pruning. So if you want a trendy and relaxing garden, go for a little bookstore tour.
Cloud pruning: which trees to choose?
Conifers of course!
The Japanese are fond of them and they lend themselves very well to cloud pruning. Yews, pines, cypresses, podocarpus, etc. are very good subjects.
But of course, you can also try the experiment on other types of trees such as local subjects: charms, holly, boxwood and even why not wisteria or cherry blossoms!
Be creative and imaginative: the only trees that do not lend themselves to Niwaki are upright trees such as cypress stricta or birch.