Well, as promised from my last posting on olives, here is something completely different. And I mean that in many respects. Here we have a conifer that lives outdoors the entire year and needs as much sun as you can throw at it (the olives are sun-loving too) It’s also the only black pine worth talking about in my collection. It has a story behind it before it ever got to me…

Scott Elser–three time National Bonsai Show winner–brought this tree into our club meeting for the raffle table. This tree is on Japanese black pine root stock and the cork bark cultivar was grafted on. The union where the graft was done is really obvious and is something we don’t want to see. Scott tried to air layer this tree at the graft union using the tourniquet method of wrapping wire tightly around the trunk Ā to cut into the cambium layer of bark in hopes the tree would throw roots where the tourniquet was applied. The experiment failed and he was left right back where he started. He decided to let someone else have a go at it by bringing it to the raffle. My friend Margie won the tree and was in the process of moving and asked me to look after it for her. I’ve got lots of room here, so it was no problem. That was a year ago.

I couldn’t help trying to come up with a solution to the problem this tree posed and after a year of moving it around because it sat in a section of lawn that had to be mowed every two weeks; it came to me this spring. Before I go much further, how about an image of what I was dealing with?

Cork Bark before

 

Here’s the subject in its decaying terracotta pot and quite an assortment of very bad weeds and an ugly trunk. The graft union is very obvious as the cork bark cultivar inverts the taper. Let’s go around the tree:

Cork Bark before

 

The tree sure is healthy, a result of using Portland Rose Society organic fertilizer pellets with mycorhizae. More views:

Cork Bark before

 

Another view of the ugly graft union; makes it look more like a cactus than a tree.

Cork Bark before

 

Straight, shiny needles are a sure sign of health!

Cork Bark before

 

The trunk does have nice movement–to its credit šŸ˜‰

Cork Bark before

 

A close-up showing the graft union/tourniquet interface. Scott did recommend another attempt with more conviction which might kill the tree in the process as one option for the future of the tree. It took me a year but I saw another angle…

Cork Bark after

 

I ’tilted her over’ into a Chinese pot I had sitting around (anybody know what the characters mean?) and this is what I got; the tree is wired into the pot ‘just so’. The angle of inclination, the position in the pot–even the pot itself all fell into place. I felt privileged to witness such a transformation. A close-up of the trunk/soil interface:

Cork Bark after

 

I still had to use a little of the grafted root stock, which I’m hoping will age and blend even further with the cork bark of the rest of the tree. I will keep an eye on the tree as the months go along and may start candle work as early as late May…we’ll see. I would like to wire the tree by fall at the very least. I took these photos over a week ago and the candles are already orienting themselves to the new planted angle–a sure sign of vigor. I hope you have enjoyed this transformation of a seemingly impossible piece of material as much as I have! Stay tuned…there’s much more to come šŸ˜‰

And before I forget, Margie has graciously allowed me to keep the tree for myself in exchange for bonsai work…Thanks Margie!

Advertisements