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Cloud topiary is a popular, traditional form of pruning shrubs in Japan. These types of shrubs are trimmed so that the foliage is left only on the tip of each branch in a manner that resembles a pom-pom or puffball. The overall effect is that the shrub resembles a mass of clouds. In Japan, gardeners must undertake a seven-year apprenticeship before trimming a tree on their own. But the basics of this type of topiary form can be mastered in a much shorter period of time to create a pleasing specimen.
Bend a strip of wire into a circle or oval to approximate the shape of the shrub tips that will be trimmed. Twist or crimp the edges of the wire together to hold the shape. Clip the ends, using wire cutters.
Select a plant to create a topiary specimen. According to the Daily Telegraph, any tree can be shaped into a cloud topiary, including traditional topiary plants such as juniper or yew. A topiary form will be achieved faster if a tree species is chosen that already has an exposed trunk and branch structure. Because the branches of this type of topiary will be visible, cloud topiaries should have an interesting branching habit.
Mix a solution of 1 part bleach and 9 parts water. Wipe your pruning shears with a clean cloth dipped in this solution to disinfect them and prevent the spread of disease.
Place a wire form around the foliage so that the tip of each branch is inside the form. Snip away all foliage that crosses outside the wire guide.
Remove all twigs and foliage from the remaining branches, leaving only the tree's smooth trunk behind.
- Daily Telegraph: Cloud-pruning with Japanese trees
- Topiary Arts: Cutting and shaping
- "Topiary and the Art of Training Plants"; David Joyce; 2000
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