Friday, May 31, 2013

Ursula gets worked over

Ursula was introduced in these two posts previously. Originally I thought it was a carpinus but was surprised when the foliage proved otherwise. This is a newly collected tree that would normally never be worked over so early. The only reason I did this is:

1. When Ursula was pulled out, it came from a swampy area that encouraged a near "pad" of roots close to the trunk.
2. It's a maple variety that isn't the best for bonsai so I've adapted a "go hard or not at all" attitude about it
3. It's the most vigorous tree I have on my bench. 

TL;DR - don't try this at home. Let newly collected material rest for at least the first year. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go ahead and break my own rules for science.

Spring catapulted this tree in to a vigorous flush:

Look how large those leaves are! I wanted to reduce some repetitive and misplaced brances. I also wanted to wire some of the lower branches into place or the opportunity would be lost forever. These bottom branches are already pencil thick and much more growth will render them immovable. 

It's tough to see what all is in there with this much foliage.

Problem solved. That straight stump on the left was going to be a part of the design but it suffered from die back and didn't push one solitary bud. It's just an eye-sore. With a little magic:

This left a big ugly flat scar that I wished to reduce and grind into a concave shape. Time to make some wood chips fly!

Mum would be proud of the safety glasses, no? In all honesty, I'm a big advocate of wearing proper safety equipment when working with any power tools. Take care of yourself, guys.

I sealed the outer perimeter of the wound with cut paste and started to reduce limbs. This is the hardest part for me because this is when we're deciding on a design within the confines of actual branch structure for the first time. It was very apparent that Ursula didn't have branches where I'd have wanted them. I wish there was a way to make branches grow exactly where you need them for the design. Wait.. wait a minute. There is. This next step took 4 hands and the camera had to take a backseat. I can share with you some excellent links to help learn about the process of thread grafting here: One, Two, Three

And that's what we did. We moved two branches into position and pinned them in place with skewers. One for the side and one in back for depth. This is my first attempt at a thread graft so let's hope I have good news to report in the future. I'll leave these in for the remainder of this season and possibly the next. 

So after this little session, here is where she's left.

 It sometimes takes a bold step backwards to inch your way forward. I've been monitoring each, leaf, bud, and graft daily and so far nothing has led me to believe we've done too great an insult. 

If nothing else, we've learned a great deal about dealing with larger maples and got to practice some grafting techniques. 

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