Changing Clothes, RMJ to Itoigawa 2020 update part 1

This project is 6 years in the making, 8 if you go all the way back to when I collected the tree in 2013. I grafted it with itoigawa in 2014, and finally had the confidence to separate it in March of 2020.

Original post:

First update:

And now we’re current. I repotted the tree after 4 years.

I had previously removed the field soil from the front half of the tree, and the roots were growing well into the bonsai soil, so I didn’t disturb that area too much:

And now it was time to remove the remaining field soil from the back half of the tree:

Notice the difference in condition? Doing half at a time keeps the relatively recently collected tree strong.

Now it’s in all bonsai soil. I changed the planting angle just a little in preparation for styling the tree to move to the right, and accentuate the live vein and movement of the base.

Next up, the graft. It’s had 6 years, and it’s clearly attached in places. It has grown well, and each year, I reduced the live vein connecting the Itoigawa to its original roots:

Time to cut ties…

For now, I’ll keep the other trunk’s graft attached. Although, it seems to have taken.

This will provide more styling options later.

So, here it is for now:

JBP, ‘Arakawa’ 2019

Here is the previous installment for this tree. I ended up repotting it in 2018, and wiring it in 2019. Here is the starting point:

Reduced the right branches in hopes for a back-bud closer to the trunk.

Trimmed back; Arakawa forms lots of buds, so trimming back took a while to get down to the bifurcation branch structure. before:

Thinned out:

Wiring started:


Wrapped in parafilm:

Scion prepared:


Cut paste to seal out water, then wrapped in parafilm, and then raffia:


Branches tweaked a bit more, and ready for the 2019 growing season.

Two weeks later, and the grafted bud is starting to move, a positive, but not definitive sign yet…

As of 4/1, the bud is 1.5″ long.

And at the end of the month…


I won’t be ready to call it a success until I see a new candle growing from it next year.

Memorial Day weekend, 2019. It is growing well, if not a little unbalanced, and the graft so far is still growing.

Around the 4th of July holiday, it was decandled:

To this:

Notice the graft is also growing at this point.

In early November, here is the graft:

The tree will be ready for some more work this winter, needle-pulling, bud selection, and some wiring.

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.