Cork bark pine air-layer

This past Saturday started out with a workshop.  I helped a customer work on a couple of very nice trees.  He wanted advice on his Japanese black pine and on a forest grouping of Japanese maples.  The pine just needed to have some old needles removed and to be fed.  The Japanese maple was a little over grown.  I just suggested thinning the tree to help form a structure.  It also helps to see the trunks.  Since I did not have to water, I weeded for awhile.  Weeding can get very exhausting.  I decided to do something fun.  I decided to air-layer a Japanese cork bark pine.  I have successfully removed two cork bark air-layers from this same tree.  I prepped the tree by removing a small shoot that was in the way.  Then I removed some needles.  I then removed a ring of bark for the air-layer.  I placed a 4 inch cup around the air-layer and filled the cup with green moss.  I then watered well.  I took a few photo's of the process.  The last picture is of last years air-layer that I put into a colander.
section to be air-layered and removal of shoot

1/2 inch ring removed and slits 6 vertical slits were made

close-up of mother tree

finished air-layer

last years successful air-layer
Just click onto the photo for a better view.  It is currently not for sale.  I might take it to the GSBF convention this year in Sacramento.

Removing another black pine air-layer.

Today I worked on transplanting my Montezuma cypress.  Finally I had time to work on one of my own trees.  I turned the tree counter clockwise a few degrees and it looks much improved.  I will work on the wiring when the tree is acclimated to the pot.  I also dug out a few Japanese black pines from the field.  I am running low on some of the different size pines.  One of the trees that I dug out has a larger air-layer on top.  This is one of the air-layers that I tried the tourniquet method on.  The air-layer did not take using the tourniquet method after two years.  However, the trunk got nice and swollen.  So last year, I cut the bark off and dusted it with rooting hormone.  Today I cut off the air-layer.  The tree is about 4 inches tall and is nearly 1 1/2 inches at the base.  I took pictures of the process and have included them.  This will make a nice shohin black pine bonsai. 

picture of tree after digging and placing in a 10 inch pot

close up of air-layer

Notice difference in flare of air-layer and trunk below

picture of air-layer removed

picture after removing old needles and placing in colander

measurement of base
If you would like a close up view of any of the pictures, click on the photo.

Working on a Montezuma Cypress

Today I worked on transplanting a very large Yatsubusa pine bonsai.  It is my Father's tree, but it has not been transplanted in about six years.  The tree is showing signs of getting week.  The candles are not vigorous and the needles are yellowing.  This was a very large task.  It took half a wheelbarrow of soil to transplant the tree.  I then started to work on my Montezuma cypress.  It is a tree that I bought at a show about 5-6 years ago.  I initially bought the tree for the pot.  When I bought the bonsai, the pot was nice but the tree was not.  I have since sold the pot that the tree was in.  I have been working on the cypress over the years.  The tree is starting to look nice, but the hollow is closing in at the bottom.  I had to carve out the bottom of the tree so the water would not get caught in the hollow.  I was talking to a friend in Kentucky and he asked me if I carved the tree out with my dremel?  I told him that it was not the same as carving by hand.  The blood, sweat and tears is what makes it memorable.  As I was carving out the tree, my chisel slipped and I poked my finger with the chisel.  The tree looks much better now and I will seal the tree when the wound dries out.  I took a few pictures before and after carving the tree. I will do the same when I transplant the tree.  When I transplant the tree, I want to turn the tree counter - clockwise about 10 degrees.  This will give the tree a better taper and you will still be able to see the hollow.  If I turn the tree, I may have to cut off the lower left branch.  I will also have to wire my tree after the tree settles into the pot.

If you click on the pictures, you can see a close up of the work.

Bonsai workshop at Cal Poly, Slo.

Last week I did a bonsai demonstration for the Cal Poly Horticulture Club.  Today I held a bonsai workshop.  For a set fee, they got to chose a tree and scissor.  I brought multiple varietals of trees for them to choose.  I also brought four display trees and magazines for ideas and inspiration.  It is amazing how different it is to teach college age kids as opposed to kids in Junior high.  Sometimes the college kids act childish, but they are really serious about designing a good bonsai.  I also brought other tools and wire for them to use.  I would go around the room and walk by each person and give them advice.  I would explain what I would like them to do and moved to the next person.  If they caught on to what I was teaching them, I would spend less time with them on the next round.  If a person picked up on wiring, I would suggest to them to help their neighbor.  By doing that, I kept everyone busy.  At the end of the evening, the students came up with some amazing trees.  I told them that if they could keep the tree alive for one year, they could come to the nursery and pick up a free one gallon tree to work on.  Teaching is very rewarding.  Not only for the students, but I learn a great deal as well.

Blue atlas round two.

This is a blue atlas cedar that I am working on as a long term project.  Last year I attempted to air-layer the top of the tree.  As you can see from the photo's, the air-layer was not successful.  The bark grew back over the area where I had cut away last year.  This year, I took my air-layer tool and really gouged the area away clean.  I put rooting hormone on and placed a six inch cup with moss around the wound.  I hope to cut off the top next year.  On a side note, I took cuttings from this blue atlas last year and about half of them appear rooted.