The cycle continues: Hawthorn part 2

In February 2016, the buds were swelling and it was time to try a graft to add a branch in a space that really needed to fill in.


Hawthorns have thin bark and callus rather slowly, so I don’t know how it’s going to take. However, the area will have plenty of access to sunshine and branches can grow fast in the spring, so we’ll see. A thread-graft was the safest choice, and I’d identified a candidate.

Drilled a hole; going in through the out door:

Fish the scion through carefully, trying to preserve some buds on the way through:

A twig from the same tree used as a wedge, and a little wire to hold things in place:


And a good seal of cut putty is placed around both ends of the graft:


Next up, some spring pruning. I went pretty aggressive in the winter of 2014, and I noticed that while the tree didn’t back-bud too strongly, it did grow well; meaning the bare areas didn’t fill in. I need to keep riding back on the heavier branches, but I also need to take it a bit more slowly. A little at a time:





After some pruning and wiring just a few branches, it is ready to grow for the year:


And grow, it did. Late March:

By mid-April, I pruned back the areas that were already thick enough; the top, upper right side, lower left. I didn’t touch any shoots that were wired, or grafted.

Mid May, I did a bit more pruning, and moved back high branch down and to the right.


The grafted shoot, and guy-wired upper left branch were not touched. It’s growing nicely, and I should be able to prune it back fairly soon:


The density is improving nicely. By late June, the upper left area was thickening, and I was ready to slow its roll…

In a span of 2 years, I was able to replace the first left branch with a smaller branch, with more movement and taper.

Branch 2 was a back branch, and it will fill in over time. With that, the apex won’t look quite so isolated up top.

Branch 3 was more problematic. I didn’t have a replacement to develop, and didn’t get one, so I had to graft one.


Losing Trees: Pyracantha Problems

This tree was collected in 2005, from a very large and very old hedge. It came out in 3 chunks, this was the middle-sized chunk. I had to use a chainsaw to separate diggable (is that a word? You know what I mean) portions. The left side of this one was sawed under, and I’d been trying for years to get it to root. It issues a few then, kind of quits. See the cut, and the attempted roots?

The scar is where I removed a branch ten years ago, which obviously never callused over, and began to rot. Additionally, a few years ago, they trunk split, at the front, forcing me to do a little carving. I think that sets up the subject of today’s post. I’m afraid I’m losing the tree…after a Best of Show at the 2015 Alabama Bonsai Society Show, an appearance at the Carolina Bonsai Expo…and acceptance into the 2016 US National show in NY.

Leaves turn yellow at and around the veins, then the whole branch dies.


I lost big branches on the left trunk, forcing a Trumplike combover for the Carolina Expo last year. This spring, the primary branch on the left trunk started weak and got worse. Kathy Shaner visited my garden in May and suggested I wrap the branch and the side of the trunk to keep it from drying. Worth a try, as I’d rather not have to completely restyle the tree from one of my favorite styles (twin trunk) into something more static. So in Mid May, I found an ugly old hand towel (I assumed it wouldn’t be missed), which blended in surprisingly well, and wrapped the branch and side of the trunk. Here is where we started:







It must have been too far gone, because by mid-June, the lower left branch was dead.



So I removed the dead branches and the wrap.

And pruned the lower-right branch to balance the left side. I still don’t know what’s wrong, but the necrosis has stopped since June, so we’ll see. I have decided to let the tree do what it’s going to do; and I’ll respond. For now, I’ll just let it grow and try to keep the aphids away.

The dieback continued, and it looked like this by mid-September:


And I grew tired of watching it suffer, so I removed everything that was dead/dying:


Then pruned the remaining growth back hard in an attempt to shock the tree into budding back.

It went to a back bench…where it gets more sun and less attention. It’s a tree that grows anytime the temperature is above freezing, so it has a good 2 months left to go. We’ll see.  The right side of the tree remains very strong in Mid-November, so a good redesign is hopeful.  Maybe something like this

So, with Alabama completely dominating Miss State 44-3 in the 3rd, I decided to get started on the plan.  11/12:

The result:

And a little drilling for drainage and to round out the flat cut a bit:

Next up, a little pruning and wiring…

Sumo shohin trident maple

Here’s one I’ve been working on for about 12 years, maybe longer. It has a fat little base, and wagon-wheel nebari, and is in serious need of refinement.

Last year, I dug it up and potted it for the first time in 6-7 years. It has a bad chop scar on the back that is slow to close, and was impossible to work on while in the ground.

I defoliated it to get a look at the branch development:


And to give the grafted branch a little sunshine. While it was leafless, I scraped the cambium around the chop and suspected it might just be rotting under that cut paste. Digging a little with a gouge confirmed that suspicion:

So I removed what I could, and then used a Foredom rotary tool to remove as much rotted, soft wood as possible, and got it back to hard wood:

Then, I treated the inside with PC Petrifier, a water-based wood preservative.


Allowed it to soak in and dry overnight, then over the course of a few days, filled the hole with interior/exterior wood filler.


A week later I had a few minutes to smooth out the edges of the wood filler, and clean up some of the rough bark:



Nice taper:

And one more week later, I was able to wire the grafted branch to move it to the right and add a little wiggle.

Now, three weeks later in mid-August, the branch is setting, and I’ve been reducing the back of the grafted shoot:

I also stripped the lower leaves from the sacrifice branch to keep the sun shining on the final tree:

Soon enough it will be down to the final tree itself:

The graft was separated, unwired, and shortened, and pruned back in late August. Here is where I’m leaving it for the remainder of the growing season:


Next spring, it will be repotted and the nebari will be worked a bit more.