Hollies and Pines have always featured in the gardens of Japan, and have long been cultivated for use as Niwaki. Niwaki is the Japanese way of training, pruning and shaping trees to a predefined form, often to reflect some aspect of nature. This can for example involve training trees to resemble the shape of clouds – we have come to know these in the Western Hemisphere as cloud trees. Niwaki thus differs from topiary, which is more the art of pruning and clipping trees into ornamental shapes such as topiary spirals.
Niwaki is an ancient art form and an intrinsic part of Japanese gardening culture. To develop a tree Niwaki style takes many years of sculpting, coaxing, pruning and shaping the tree into the desired form. It is not a quick process but the result is a genuine living sculpture which becomes a natural centre-piece for the garden.
Spotlight on Blue Holly Niwaki Pruned Trees – Ilex Meserveae:
One such Niwaki tree available to buy in our plant nursery is the Ilex Meserveae Blue Prince (or Blue Holly Tree). From the holly family, Ilex Meserveae Blue Prince is an excellent example of a cloud tree carefully shaped over many years in the Niwaki style. It is a rare specimen to find here in the UK. Being slightly smaller than our Unique Cloud Trees, these specimens represent very good value for money, retailing at £750 each. At over 2 metres tall, these are nonetheless substantial plants capable of creating instant impact.
See our recent blog post for more on Niwaki pruned pines and cloud trees.