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Posts from the ‘Styling’ Category

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!


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.


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.



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.

Styling a Corkbark Black Pine, ‘Taihei’ part 2

About the cultivar:

Part 1 is here:

Which covered the time of purchase in 2009, through the first couple styling attempts through 2012. During that time, I learned that this Taihei despises summer candle-cutting. Here is what happened:

So Part 2 picks up here, after pruning and wiring in fall 2012:

Repotted in 2013:

Frustrated with a styling effort in late 2013, it was planted in the ground to be forgotten for the next 18 months. Neither of us minded the break at all.

it’s a love/hate tree. I love the bark, it hates the work. We’ve battled it out several times over the years, pruning and wiring one year, resulting in the tree sulking for the next two years. Summer decandling resulted in no new candles, only buds setting for the next year.

March 2015, the last time we fought to a draw, it ended up potted in this 13″ round pot, only because we were moving, and I had extra soil. Potted in March 2015, and ignored for the rest of the year:

Ignored it in 2016:

Continued to ignore it for a 3rd year in 2017. Have you heard that saying about freshly potted trees? Year 1 they sleep, year 2 they creep, year 3 they leap.

This was year 4, and it bulked up noticeably in 2018, through little more than my neglect:

But I could ignore it no longer in that 13″ pot. And after 4 years in that pot, it was time to repot. It took a few minutes to get it loose…

…but I managed, and the pot survived:

Armed with my new training strategy, I am preparing to neglect it in this pot for at least another 5 years. I used pumice, lava, and medium akadama, 2:1:2. Pumice and lava don’t break down, so this should allow for good watering and air movement for many years. The pot is also 17″ wide. Spacious.

Since I’m planning to neglect it for a while, it needed to be pruned back. I pruned conservatively, by removing last year’s strong candles, back to buds which were set at the base of last year’s candles. Here:

to here:

which, by May, looks like this:

But, back to March…the pruning resulted in this tidier look:

Some light wiring closed a bit of the gap between the first and the rest of the branches:

Late May 2019:

A fun shot of 10 years gone by, 2009 and 2019:

And a late summer 2019 shot:

I think we have found a good arrangement of neglect and response…