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.


Not Candle cutting the JBP

For the first time in 10 years, I decided to not candle cut this JBP. Why? Winter 18 months ago, it got really cold shortly after I wired and pruned it; single digits for several days when I was out of town and the tree sat out of doors.

The result was weak growth in the spring of 2018. I decandled it anyway in July 2018 preparing it for the USNBE, and the resulting growth wasn’t strong enough to show. It lost a few small shoots in the upper right area. This spring, I repotted it into a coarser mix and let it grow. The color isn’t great, and the growth is a bit weak. July 15, 2019:

It was weak, the color shows pretty yellow under the studio lights. It’s not this bad, but it isn’t the usual deep green:

Bald spot in the upper right area:

Instead, I removed dead needles, cut candles that emerged in 3s down to pairs. This:

To this:

And this:

To this:

Next up, aerating the soil. Cleary’s 3336 granular staves odd needle cast, but also creates a crust on the soil surface which needs to be plowed in just a bit. I just used tweezers:

Alternately, use a chopstick:

Then I dealt with moss, using the same tweezers. This:

To this:

The base is spreading after 10 years in a Bonsai pot:



This should prepare the tree for fall work, which will include needle-pulling, thinning branches, and a complete rewiring of the tree.

Be sure to use clean, sharp tools. Sandflex blocks do a good job of removing sap from blades, followed by alcohol to sanitize, and oil to lubricate and protect against rust.

Wanna see something nasty?

Me neither, but nevertheless, I noticed some white flecks on this trident early in the spring. They didn’t come off easily, and weren’t moving either, so I just kind of ignored them.

3/20/19, easy to see in a night shot with flash:

Then on April 14, I noticed some white spots on the undersides of a few leaves. Get ready…nasty. Scale:

So the infested leaves were removed, and the trunk got a good scrubbing with a stiff wash of Malathion to kill the remaining eggs or whatever they were.

The next day:

And still a few scale bugs to remove:

And on the road to recovery just a few days later:

And after weeks, not a bug to be found, and it’s growing again, and ready for a haircut.

Stay vigilant, my friend.