Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Willow Garden Bonsai, Niwaki

         While traveling, I always pay attention to the plants that adorn the gardens, the streets, the hotel lobby, patios and houses. Once I was sitting in a chair near the vase with very strange plant that had an interesting trunk. On closer examination it turned out to be five thin stems of ficus Benjamin, braided "pigtail" and tightly tiered. The entwined trunks seemed to be very stable and in good condition.
When I thought about my garden style, remembered that tree. I decided to grow some of my garden trees in such way. Of course, to use outdoors the ficus in our climate was impossible and I began to look for trees that are perfectly adapted to our climate. Four slender young willows were chosen, and  brought to our garden.
Willow is woody plant genus of the family Salicaceae. Some kinds of willows are mostly shrubs. Their appearance is very diverse: there are high trees and bushes, sometimes quite small, squat, creeping along ground. Some of the willows are blooming in early spring before leafing, others  in the early summer, simultaneously with first leaves, or even later. Willows grow on all soils, but more of them are suitable for friable and moderately humid.
   We planted the brought plants very close, then willows took roots, began to grow, and leaves appeared. The following spring I have to work with willow trees, as their trunks quickly thickened and hardened.

I braided their trunks to the first branching of the crown, fastened up with old, soft enough electric wire as the rope and left for a year. After a year I removed the lower crown branches, braided again even higher, fastened the wire up above branches.

This happened some years, as long as I considered that the intertwining of trunks is already quite high. Now niwaki tree is 6 years old, its trunks hardened. A tree is quite stable in the gusts of strong wind.

It's not difficult to look after such a little tree. I remove all branches that grow into the crown, forming the shape, leave the extreme horizontal branches and clip the top runners. I fertilize willow in spring and after flowering, put compost, ashes. Of course, the niwaki trunks and crowns can be pruned the gardener likes more.

Here is my video about willow-niwaki:


  1. hi, what's the latin name for this plant you are growing?

    1. Hi, Janine! This willow is v. Salix alba L., grows in all Europe, is very simple for bonsai. Thank you!


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