Fall cleanup (and unexpected show-prep) on a twisty Itoigawa

I did some work in February, and let it mostly grow wild into October. So we start here:

The tree is one-dimensional, and has a few long branches extending on the back side, and a bald spot in the back left.

Below, my hand is covering the back left branch that needs to be shortened, and the bald spot is visible above my hand:

And the back right branch (this right side is the stronger side, and it’s pretty dense):

It does look ok from the front. However, you can’t limit the viewing angle in a show…

First, cleanup undersides and prune it back a bit. Here is that back left branch, removed:

First phase done:

Next, cleaning up the loose bark with a knife and scrubbed up with a toothbrush:

Soil surface mossed, and pot oiled with baby oil:

Finally, a coat of diluted lime sulfur on the deadwood:

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Fall cleanup of a Shohin Shimpaku

This little air-layer was repotted this year, so I let it grow all year. It grew a bit leggy, because I think it didn’t get enough water! So here it is in late September before any work:

First, unwire and remove old needles:

Next, scrub the trunk to clean it up and remove old bark, then and remove the top layer of old soil:

Close-up, the air-layered base is nice, not always a feature of Shimpakus:

Trim back to bifurcation get shoots. This was challenging on the weaker growth from this growing season:

See some crotch growth and weaker shoots in the mix:

Trimmed:

In fact, lots of growth was removed, but the tree still has plenty to work with.

Wired and branches set:

the pads are a little large, and the apex needs to settle in, but not bad for a 5-year old air-layer.

The pot? Shinobu.

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.