Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Juniper Grafting

Long ago I stumbled upon an old nursery run by a single family for 3 generations. On their property they had hundreds of old gnarled Sargentii junipers stuffed into pots too small. Before alerting the bonsai club, I took my pick of the litter and triumphantly brought them home. One of my first posts showed the lot: click clack

Long story short, I killed them all except for my favorite find. This SOB right here:

While my rookie exuberance overwhelmed my patience, this was the only juniper I slip potted into a larger container and let rest for the year. I removed a few branches here and there but mostly just left it to its own devices; food and water.

I took it to a Nagatoshi Workshop and he basically said it was a decent trunk but the foliage sucked. I agree. He told me to attempt a graft the following February. This February. Roy is famous for his juniper grafting. I used his advice and THIS article as motivation. As well as a recent YOUTUBE VIDEO from Bonsai Focus aided in my understanding.

Enough backstory, on to it.

On the left is an shimpaku airlayer that's been prepped with mesh to hold the media in. It's a new mix of lava, pumics, and akadama. Not that it matters. These whips were planted in straight turface originally and put out lots of root growth. You'll see the sargentii has been reduced a bit. You'll also see my daughter never passes up an opportunity to get into a picture.

Trunk Detail

Ugly Foliage

Lovely foliage. 

A little prep work that will make it easier to get to the area of importance:

Cleaning the bark so I can better assess the live vein.

Too long, too straight, too much in the way of the whip's foliage.

Clean your tools!

That's better.

 Just because we wanted to see that lovely red bark.

Here's where the whip will be attached. I'd prefer it lower, but that dead stub tells us that there is no live vein as it's not supporting any foliage. Later this area will be carved out. Much later.

Planning the location. Assuming the graft takes, we'll have to work the foliage back to the left to cover the union. Again, lower would have been better but we must work with what we have.

My lovely assistant making a cut with a fresh blade. 

Something like that.

Cutting the whip to match up the cambium layers. These last two steps were slow and we worked carefully. 

All 4 hands were needed lining up the grafts so pardon the time warp. After we had lined up the two wounds, cut paste was applied to hold in moisture. I wrapped the union tightly with self amalgamating tape and then some mesh for cushion. 

The copper wire were wrapped tightly so the whip wouldn't be pushed out of the wound. Not so tight as to cut off the flow of sap. 

A close up of the container. Nary a pebble escaped during our procedure. 

And here's where we left it. 

I do believe there is a bonsai tree in there somewhere. 

We're having some awfully cold weather today and tomorrow so the newlyweds are protected currently in the garage. They'll be outside once more on Friday. This is our first solo attempt at an approach graft so our fingers are crossed. The tree will be fed well this year and the next and largely untouched until mid 2016. No rush. 

I'm excited to say that the season of work has begun! Thank you to my beautiful fiancee, Jessica, for lending a hand and not freaking out when I bring dirty shrubs into the kitchen. 

I'd love to hear from you in the comments if you so desire. 

Thanks for stopping by,