Skip to content
Advertisements

Still Changing Clothes, RMJ to Itoigawa

Over four years ago, I started grafting Itoigawa cuttings into this collected RMJ. Since the first attempt failed, I have been very reluctant to cut the roots, even though I suspect the grafts have taken by now. I have girdled 75% of the scion, and by next March, I will take the plunge.

March 2015:

June 2019:

Meanwhile, since I don’t have a real clear idea of the final styling of the tree, I decided to practice applying another approach graft to provide the option of keeping the left trunk. Originally, my plan was to Jin it.

This spot will be easy to access, and shouldn’t be too visible from either side:

Quick groove with a rotary bit:

Scuff up the scion, and set it in the groove. This time, I was able to set it deeper than the first graft:

Wrap the graft with Parafilm:

From the front:

I reduced the RMJ foliage just a little to get the Itoigawa exposed to sunlight.

Here is a shot from the front:

The first graft has grown well since it was applied 4 years ago:

Since I still don’t quite know how it will finish, I decided to Jin some branches I know 8 won’t be using, and reduce some of the original foliage in hope of keeping the Itoigawa foliage strong.

My Buddy Dave stopped by shortly after this work was done in late June and suggested I add another approach graft point on the upper branch, as the attachment point was a bit sketchy. Good idea, the whip was long enough:

when grafting old junipers, finding the live vein is important. I scratched spot I wanted to graft first, and it didn’t appear to be alive:

So I began scraping off the flaky bark until the live vein was apparent. look at the photo above and notice the live vein is running along the left side of the branch. It will be plump, brighter red/purple in color, and the dead wood around it is usually sunken. Here is a shot that shows the living vein, notice the red/purple look, contrasting with the dead wood above. Also, note how the green cambium flowed with sap just seconds after carving the groove:

That’s the spot!

Wrap:

Next, I’m continuing to weaken the roots on the Itoigawa, by reducing the trunk, and I also decided to remove the pot to allow the roots to start withering.

Done for now.

A month later, the color of the Itoigawa is concerning. The bottom graft is clearly struggling.

Next spring, I’ll finish the separation, repot into a smaller pot, and hopefully begin styling some of the Itoigawa branches.

Advertisements

Summer defoliation on a Trident Maple

This root-over-Rock trident was started about 11 years ago, and the leaves will reduce down to 1/2″ with constant trimming. Defoliating is used not to reduce leaf size, but to provide some visibility into what’s happening inside the canopy. If an area is getting too coarse inside the canopy, it’s difficult to see. So, in mid-June, I removed all the leaves to get a look. The growing season is long enough that it can continue to grow.

Before:

After:

Close-up shot of the coarse branches that need to be pruned back to bifrucating pairs:

And after pruning:

A month later, the tree is full again, but notice the larger leaf size:

Now, pinching will resume for the rest of the growing season, removing the strong shoots that grow past the profile, and large leaves. This pinching is what produces small leaves and shorter internodes; here is a shot in mid-August, after constant trimming to prevent long shoots from running outside the profile.

And after the pruning while defoliated, more these new branches can be kept as part of the next course of ramification.

During the remainder of the growing season, larger leaves will be removed to allow light in. Leaving smaller leaves helps maintain the scale.

Losing trees, JBP

This is one I have been documenting for over a decade; maybe more than any other tree I own. It’s even the subject of this little book.

Last winter (2017-2018) it was subjected (by me) to some very cold winter temperatures when we dipped down into the single digits for a week in January 2018. It probably would have been ok, but I had just wired it out in preparation for the 2018 USNBE the month before. It weakened and looked pretty rough going into Spring 2018.

I ended up pulling it from the show, and turned my attention to keeping it alive! Starting with repotting it into very coarse soil in March 2019, with more pumice than before, heavy feeding until June, and no candle-cutting in July.

Then it started turning pale in early August. It had been hot and dry, and the watering system was the only moisture it got for over a month. Jonas had been posting about alkaline soils, and I wondered if that was happening here too. My pH meter was inconclusive at best.

But the color was looking rough:

So I applied a heavy dose of organic acidic feed, and fish emulsion every few days over the next few weeks. It also rained finally, which may have helped too, but it seems to have perked up some. Two weeks separate the photo above and below.

I’m hopeful its improving and can be worked this fall.

This is the feed I have been using on acid-loving trees, like azaleas and Stewartia. It’s granulated like Plant Tone, so I have considered making cakes with it. Maybe one day.