Friday, 22 July 2016

Looking for Ideas

I mentioned the convention our club hosted in 2013 when I discussed the olive tree I worked on at one of the workshops I attended.

At that workshop one of the delegates was working on a large cork bark elm. As I'd never seen a cork bark elm for sale, I was delighted to receive one of the branches she removed from her tree and was really happy when the cutting rooted. This is what the little tree looks like nearly three years later.

It will never be a big tree, but the trunk diameter of 2cm (0.78 inches) is acceptable for a tree with tiny leaves like an elm has. Unfortunately it has a few problems:
  • there are no low branches
  • it's too straight after the first bend
  • it has bad reverse taper at the first bend.
About a year ago I took the tree to a workshop where I was advised to air layer it at the first bend. This would have solved both problems and would probably have given me two trees to play with. Unfortunately I never got around to doing it.

With spring on the way I realise that now is the time to act if  I don't want to waste another season. But before I commit to the air layer I thought I'd see if  there was a better option. I haven't taken it to my club yet and won't be able to until the middle of August, but I've found that I get some good suggestions online too, so I shot a quick 360° video  to include with this post.

Do you think I should go ahead with the air layer, or can you suggest something better?

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Spring Came Early

Well actually that title is wishful thinking, but some of my trees certain seem to think that it's true.

A case in point is the mulberry tree I rescued from my pavement a few months ago. Under normal circumstances I would have left it outdoors unprotected through the winter. However the root system is so new that I wasn't prepared to risk killing it, so, since nighttime temperatures started dropping below 5°C (41°F) I've been putting it out during the day and moving it into my greenhouse at night.

On 1 July I noticed the first signs that the buds were starting to swell, and now, less than three weeks later, it's already got quite a lot of young foliage. This photo of a young leaf was taken two days ago.

I wasn't surprised to see this happening to a tree in a sheltered environment, but yesterday I had a glance at what remains of the parent tree and discovered that the buds on that one are starting to swell too. It's growing right next to a west facing wall, but that's all the protection it gets from our "cold" winter nights.

Cold, in my climate, is still relatively mild of course. The lowest we've been so far this winter is 2°C (35°F), though it's likely that things will get worse before they get better. In fact, despite the fact that today has been pretty warm, the forecast for the next week is worse than anything we've had the whole winter. We're also expecting some unseasonal rain.

The good news for me is that spring really isn't that far off. By this time next month I expect to see new foliage on a lot of my deciduous trees.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Time for Work

I'm embarrassed. When I welcomed you all to my new home I said I hoped to get all my content moved here by the end of June, possibly accompanied by some new posts too. I'm afraid I've been rather lazy. I've been spending far too much time procrastinating online, neglecting both my blog and my trees.

Last night I finally moved the last of my old posts, so I've got no more excuses. It's time to get back to work on my trees. Despite the fact that it's mid-winter in South Africa, some of them are really crying for attention.

Expect some new posts really soon. Hopefully this time I'm not promising something that won't happen.