Itoigawa Shimpaku summer work

I last wired this one 2 years ago, and the wire was digging in. It had also gotten fairly dense, and as is the case, weak areas got weaker, and strong areas got stronger.

So this work was to remove the wires, and then trim the tree back to restore some balance.

Here is the tree before the work…bushy!

After unwiring, it really has a case of bed head.

And before pruning back:

Some detail of the cleanup, here’s what gets cut.

Crotch Growth
Dead stuff
Weak juvenile growth
Long runners

Starting with this:

Ending with this, branches ending in pairs of growth “tufts”:

This will make fall wiring much simpler!

Another branch example:

In all, about 1/3 of the foliage was removed, but most of it was inefficient, shaded out and weak.

What’s left has space in the sun, and good balance for even growth for the rest of the growing season. Here are some shots after the work:

Underside of the first left branch
Underside of the first right branch
Looking up into the tree, notice there is plenty of space for air and sunlight.
Apex
Overhead shot looking down over the tree. Good distribution.

One more shot a few days later, after foliage has had a chance to settle in again:

In the fall, the tree will be wired again, with less but similar thinning out. I’m still on the hunt for a good pot…

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:

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.