Native niwaki

Posted 2007/08/04 22:25
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Though I've spent a fair amount of time in Japan in the last few years, I sadly didn't manage to meet any of the country's many highly skilled gardeners.
'Niwaki' by Jake Hobson (Timber Press) is thus a godsend for the gradual Japanification that is happening in the garden as much as in the kitchen here.
We have plans to place a Japanese Tea House in our meadow, and to form a bridge between it and the native plants all around I decided to prune some of the very characterful ancient hawthorn nearby in the 'Niwaki' style. Of course I forgot to take the 'Before' picture, but here is the 'After'. The process basically means pruning, tying down and staking trees to 'fake' a kind of premature aging, concentrating on encouraging horizontal growth, 'pads' of foliage, and opening up views into the bark and limbs of the specimen. With already ancient trees like this one, the process is a little easier and faster than it might be with, say, a new bonsai - which is more or less the same process but smaller.
No idea how these self-sown trees will take to this treatment, so watch this space for a 2008 report.