Bark Grafting a boxwood

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Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  Jim Doiron on Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:06 pm

Hello all, really happy to IBC back up, I was starting to get the shakes. I recovered this boxwood tree after my brother ripped it from the ground with a truck, the scar came from the chain he wrapped around it. I was wondering if anyone has ever grafted bark on a tree? This was the nicest (in all other respects) but I have a few others that I saved that could be used as donors. I know it will heal eventually but these are such slow growing trees who knows how long it will take. This is also the best front but the scar is big enough to be seen from most views.
Otherwise, does anyone have ideas to feature the scar? Thanks Jim

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  JimLewis on Fri Jan 30, 2009 1:39 pm

I don't think "bark grafting" is an option.

But I do think you have a worthwhile workaround. The very large branches all come out from the same plane, making an unattractive bulge in the upper trunk, that you will never be able to work into something that looks good. But some judicious work with a saw may provide a solution.

What you might consider is sawing diagonally from the immediate left of that large back branch, down to and through, the largest of the scars. That should give you a tree that bends a bit to the right. From that point, you will have to decide the future orientation of the tree -- new front, angle of planting, branches to keep, etc.

But I think that future judicious carving of the large chop area may give you a tree with nice taper and shape and a very interesting hollowed area.

Before you start sawing, remember that the wood of boxwood is EXTREMELY hard. You might want to use a power tool of some kind.

I'd do you a picture to show where I suggest you cut, but because of wet weather and the distance we are from the main hub, my %$#@!&^%$ DSL system is all screwed up, and I'm not at all certain that THIS message will get through before I get a timeout. Sending a picture under this new system would be hopeless.

This is attempt #3


Last edited by JimLewis on Wed Feb 04, 2009 7:47 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  Jim Doiron on Sat Jan 31, 2009 4:22 am

Thanks for the response Jim, I think I know where you are talking about making the cut. Yeah I know this has the "frog leg" flaw ( I think I remember seeing that mentioned in a book) but I thought I might be able to get past that because I felt the trunk size and nebari are so nice (even thought this photo doesn't show it so well). And I felt like the age of these bushes dictated some attempt with them (I think they are around 40-50 yrs). I will be making some severe cut backs to some of these larger branches this spring and starting some new branches to try and get this thing into shape and on the way to healing these big wounds. It's on the five year in-the-ground plan so hopefully things will be more workable by then. I thought maybe the graft would speed things up but I guess some things you just have to wait for. I will get pictures this spring when I work on it again. Thanks again, jim

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  Alan Walker on Sat Jan 31, 2009 4:56 am

Jim: It is common for even experienced bonsai-ists to complain/explain that their bonsai looks better than the photo shows. And it is true that sometimes the angles of the photo might be a bit deceptive. However, it is even more true that the eye deceives and the lens never lies. With the photo, what you see is what you have. In fact, it is a good practice to photograph your bonsai occasionally in black-and-white to better see the lines of your design and to detect otherwise unobserved design flaws.
Too often our mind will deceive our perception by having us to see what we expect to see. Our vision might be 20:20, but that has nothing to do with our ability to observe. Bonsai photography can be a very humbling experience, but if we are not too proud to accept it, we can become more aware of the flaws which need correction or modification.
The practice of sketching our bonsai is another way to develop our observation skills. Sketching can also be helped by working from a high contrast photograph.

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  Alan Walker on Sat Jan 31, 2009 5:00 am

By the way, you might want to visit the "Crash Bonsai" site for a model crashed car to provide a visual explanation for the trunk damage. lol!

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  Jim Doiron on Sat Jan 31, 2009 2:10 pm

Thanks Alan, I never thought of the Crash Bonsai that's a great idea, and my brother (where the trees came from)has wrapped a car or two around a tree so it might be appropriate.
I know what your saying about the photo/photography, I wasn't so much complaining as much as mentioning some of the features I felt made this tree worth the effort despite it's more obvious flaws. This was a casual photo I posted to try and illustrate the topic more than show off the tree and the root mass covers up the nebari. Perhaps I should choose/take better photos to post in the future for that reason. I am actually trained as an artist and sketch trees quite often, I have sketched this tree more than a few times trying to figure out what to do with this scar, I will try and post some of those when I get them scanned. Thanks again

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  bonsaikc on Sat Jan 31, 2009 3:13 pm

Do you have more photos of the tree from other angles? I don't find the branching at the top to be unattractive at all, since the transition is so smooth and natural. I would think that alone would be worth working on. You could try watching this one as it grows. If it continues to heal the wound, just keep it clean and let it do its thing. Or if it slows down, you could try shaving the edge of the callous to stimulate more growth. Or you could feature it or put it at the back of the tree.

Regardless of the wound, this box could make a beautiful natural broom style tree and I don't think it would ever do as much otherwise.

Chris

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  Norma on Sat Jan 31, 2009 5:44 pm

Good advice ,Chris, about giving the tree time to heal the scars. Dealing with a scar may not be a factor for several years when you finally wish to formally show the boxwood. Scars do not, many times, heal fully and there are alternatives. Not wishing to "open Pandora's box"......I'll refrain from specifics!

From my experience of training many boxwood , you'll be kept busy with trimming new growth so it's very important to have set the top structure. If this is the front, I'd recommend cutting back the large branch on the right that extends up ,which should slow the bulge forming under the heavy branch.

Most of my boxwood do better in dappled shade , prefer deeper pots and after repotting their roots should be kept warm by putting in direct sun or electric seedling pads.

Good luck ,Jim.

Norma


Last edited by Norma on Sat Jan 31, 2009 5:45 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : wording)

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  Jim Doiron on Sun Feb 01, 2009 12:07 am

Thanks all for the replies, I attempted a rough idea of my future thoughts for this one. I am also attaching the only other photo I have of this one at the moment which shows the full extent of the scaring. I shot these few and then got them in the ground because it was august when they were pulled and I was worried about them surviving. One question while I have your attention. Since I have scaring to deal with anyway could I chop all of these branches back to the main trunk and get these to branch back from the trunk? I suppose the way you would with an elm but surely not with the same new growth. I wouldn't do it with all these but I think it would do a lot for variety of branch caliper.

"Scars do not, many times, heal fully and there are alternatives. Not wishing to "open Pandora's box"......I'll refrain from specifics"

Norma, I would love to know some of these "alternatives" you speak of if you think they would be good for this tree. Could you just crack the lid on the box? Laughing

Anyway, thanks again

P.S. I think there is something wrong with the image host, I will try again and do it later.


Last edited by Artdoiron on Sun Feb 01, 2009 12:53 am; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : Photos wouldn't take)

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  Norma on Sun Feb 01, 2009 1:34 am

Most boxwoods will not tolerate severe pruning of all large branches .....it would be prudent to trim a little at a time making sure there is good growth left on the branch. Some of these evergreen species such as Kingsville bud-back more readily but I've been very careful with these also.

The topic I was hesitant to open is discussed on the eristic forum of artofbonsai.org....Will Heath has penned an article called "Is That Bonsai Real" and by Russell Marchant "Bonsai - The True Art of Deception". Both articles address the various/nefarious methods used by some to camouflage weaknesses in their bonsai. There are arguable degrees of "deception" in preparing a tree for show. For example: one of my teachers told me to save the bark that had just fallen off my tree..it could be replaced with a touch of glue. However most agree it's bad form to build up the size of your tree's trunk with plastic but it's OK to root-graft. Our forum has had long and heated discussion about this topic . Hopefully I haven't started another No

Norma

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  jersanct on Sun Feb 01, 2009 1:52 am

Looks like a promising tree, Jim, even if the "knob" at the top may not fit everyone's taste. I personally like that part of the tree and would keep the basic structure you have, but I don't know much. I do think you'll have a tough decision to make on those two upward-reaching branches center-right and right, which are too tall, in my opinion. It very well could be that you're waiting for budding lower on those branches so you can cut them back, though - if not, that would be my recommendation. I know someone (even a few someones) who would tell you that you could cut them back to the correct length leaving no foliage, and they would bud anyway, but I would be too afraid of losing the two key branches entirely to do that.

Thanks for sharing the tree--best wishes. Chris

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  Jim Doiron on Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:25 pm

Norma: ahh...I understand your reluctance now. I apologize in advance if my provocation leads to anything "heated" that may come your way.

I think they may have already bud back at the "knob" or at least closer to it allowing me to cut these branches back a bit more this spring.
The image host still does not want to accept these images for some reason (even thought they did for the first one). So here is a link to the other images:

The first one is my "plan" for the tree which includes the cut that, I think, Jim originally suggested and the second is the only other view of the tree that I have at the moment.

http://gallery.me.com/jimlisasimondoiron#100023

Thanks again,

Jim Doiron
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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  bonsaikc on Mon Feb 02, 2009 11:55 pm

As I said, I like the possibilities of this tree. I suggest a wider, flatter crown than what you show to give the image of a much older, grander tree. Other than that I think you are on the right track.

Chris

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  Jim Doiron on Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:43 am

Thanks Chris, I think the crown will ultimately be low and wide enough to cover most of those branches and the "knobby bit" as well. I will, of course, design the branching as best I can but maybe as open as it is right now I am seeing problems that will resolve themselves as it fills in. Time will tell, Thanks again

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  Jerry Meislik on Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:51 pm

I hope I am not disrupting the flow of the discussion but to get back to bark grafting. I have tried it with Ficus on one or two occasions without success. Since Ficus are so easy to graft my guess is that bark grafting is going to be close to impossible.
Just a guess.
Jerry
www.bonsaihunk.us

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  Jim Doiron on Wed Feb 04, 2009 5:13 pm

Thanks Jerry, I had always heard the ficus were especially hard to graft due to the sap oozing all over the place so I have never even tried it with them. (although I don't have many ficus because I can't really support them in the winters here). I may attempt a small graft on this tree as an experiment only since I have a few years anyway to wait for the scar to heal. I will do it in the "back" whenever that is established. I will surely report my findings.

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  Norma on Wed Feb 04, 2009 7:29 pm

Hi Jim,

I've not done any grafting but it seems to me that in order to bark-graft you would have to put cambium to cambium and first , determine if the wound had destroyed this green layer. I wonder if stripping an area around the wound would hold a graft? ........... A worthy project for a young "Mas Ishi" !!

Norma

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  JimLewis on Wed Feb 04, 2009 7:46 pm

I think we are working under a misunderstanding of what bark grafting actually is. It is NOT slapping a piece of bark over a wound and expecting it to take. Bark grafting is one of several ways to get a few different varieties of a fruit to grow on the same tree (for example).

I cannot imagine how one would expect to graft bark. For it to take, as Norma says, the entire cambium of the gfat asn the tree would have to be in contact. If you had cambium at that spot on the tree, you would not have to graft. Bark will NOT graft onto the wood.

For lots and lots on grafting, try here:

http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/grafting.html

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  Jim Doiron on Wed Feb 04, 2009 11:05 pm

I do believe you may be right Jim. I do know what proper "bark grafting" is as I am capable of researching but since I was at a loss as to what else to call it I added the photo to try and explain what I was referring to. Let the record show I do NOT wish to attach a variety of fruit tree stock to the top of this boxwood. I could not find anything on the proper technique for "slapping a piece of bark over a wound" for the "bark grafting" I was talking about so I asked here since I can't imagine any other group looking to attempt a purely "aesthetic" graft to a tree as we bonsai people would. So, it sound then like it may not be a possible option, now I know and I believe it was once said that that is half the battle. Thank you all for the answers as well the rest of the discussion.

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  JimLewis on Thu Feb 05, 2009 1:37 pm

Well, the old saying, "Time heals all wounds" applies to bonsai, too.

Of course a wound on a tree does NOT heal like a cut on our finger would. It mends. There's a difference.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  Brett Summers on Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:40 am

I chased up this old article from Behr I thought you might be intrested.

http://forum.bonsaitalk.com/f15/grampzs-japanese-boxwood-clump-creation-19206.html

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  Jim Doiron on Wed Feb 25, 2009 1:42 pm

Thanks Brett for putting up the link. That is a great series of photos /information. I was thinking about the giant live oaks for another boxwood I have. I have done some chopping and trimming on these trees and will post some photos as soon as they come back and start putting out new growth. Thanks again,

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  Will Heath on Wed Feb 25, 2009 2:08 pm

Leave it be, the scars may make an interesting addition to the tree in the future, if it survives the damage. No sense adding insult to injury by attempting repairs that may only make matters worse now.

Later you could always carve, jin, shari to accentuate the damage.



Will

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  Rob Kempinski on Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:52 pm

A little review of botany will answer your question about grafting bark.
All of the tissues outside the vascular cambium are collectively called the "bark". The bark has two layers, the inner bark and the outer bark. The inner bark next to the cambium is phloem and it transports nutrients down from the top of the tree. The outer bark of a tree is dead - it's hardened phloem cells pushed out by the growing cambium (similar to human fingernails) so grafting bark is not going to work. Gluing the outer bark to the scar would work but with a smooth barked tree like a boxwood will be very difficult to conceal well.

If you want to fill the hole, the key then will be to graft a new section of a live tree into the scar. There is a type of graft called a bridge graft used in the fruit tree trade to graft viable sections over dead areas in trees that have been girdled or severely damage but still make valuable fruit. Here's a web page that discusses it.

http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/Bridgegraftingandinarching.htm

However, I've seen bridge grafts and they look horrible from an aesthetic point of view and not recommended for bonsai. Therefore I believe you have two choices - encourage the scar to heal and meanwhile face it toward the back of the design, or make the scar a feature of the tree. Really old trees have lots of scars and wounds with rotten holes. Since the top of your tree already resembles a really old tree, make the scar part of the design. It will look majestic and wizened.

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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

Post  Jim Doiron on Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:35 pm

Thanks again to all for the responses.

Rob, thanks for the botany review and the information on the bridge graft. I considered those but decided against them for all the reasons you mentioned.
So I will let the scar heal. Here is a picture of the tree as of today. I chopped more back and it's a bit one dimensional right now but there are two new shoots in the back (arrows) that I will let go to thicken up. It reminds me of the olive trees in Italy as it looks now, maybe I should revisit my Italy trip for design ideas? I will need some wine.


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Re: Bark Grafting a boxwood

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