Ilex Serrata

I bought 3 ilex serrata (Japanese Winterberry, or deciduous holly) from Brent back around 2009-2010 in 2 3/4″ pots.  They were the size of matchsticks if I recall.  They went in the ground, and over time I lost a couple, but managed to keep one going.  The earliest photo I could find was this one from 2013.

When we moved in 2015, I dug up everything in that bed, and this ilex went into a 16″ Anderson flat with minimal root work, to keep it growing strong:

2 growing seasons later, in summer 2017, here is how it looked:

I had a very specific vision for this tree, a fat little multi-trunked tree; somewhere around 18″ tall and 20″ wide; like these examples:

Lately, I have been dabbling into shohin-sized trees; 8″.  I want to keep both options open.  And since this variety is rare, I decided to layer the top as well.  In May, it appeared the layer was going to fail, but I left it in place.  In mid-June I moved the tree up to get a closer look and it seemed to be making some progress:

I scraped the white tissue back off the girdle to prevent bridging, and wrapped it back up.  Maybe it will work after all…

So instead of giving up and chopping, I did a little light pruning down low, and returned this one back to its growing site.  If I go the shohin route, the trunk definitely needs more taper than this currently has:

A few weeks after recutting the callus, the entire top died back, so the next step was defined.  In the spring, I’ll repot it and change the planting angle a little in hopes of creating a little movement.  Until next spring…


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