Sierra Juniper Progression

grouper52

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I'm starting to move forward on this Sierra juniper, and wanted to start a thread to capture the progression over time.

Here it was shortly after I acquired it about a year ago. Dan Robinson was over my house one day, saw a hollow trunked Nothofagus that captured his imagination so passionately that he said I could have any of his unfinished trees I wanted in trade. So I picked out a RMJ, just barely, and not too convincingly, starting to recover from its Wyoming collection several years before. It wasn't the sort of tree most people would immediately notice as worthwhile, and I don't think Dan thought there was any chance I would, but I certainly did. "That one." He was shocked and embararrassed to go back on the deal, but he had to: "Oh . . . no, no . . . any tree but THAT one!"

So I chose this one, which I think he also regreted. I had watched it struggle back over five years from its precarious collection in Oregon or California, only gaining a little growth in the few remaining live areas over the past year. It was one of my favorites of his, and I was surprised he let it go.

The picture below shows it a year ago shortly after his transplant into that pot. A few weeks later I approach grafted Shimpaku from two small cuttings I had grown, a total of four grafts. I left them wrapped and covered with graft paste the next year, and got in there to check them out yesterday - all four grafts seem to have taken fine, and I therefore severed the Shimpaku from their bases in gallon pots which had been hanging suspended in the air.

A few months after the grafts were started, the tenous Sierra junpier foliage began to grow with amazing vigor. Eric suggested perhaps the Sierra's foliage was drawing sustenance from the well established Shimapku roots. But Dan, based on his experience and what he has learned from those who do such grafts routinely, believes it is due to a different phenomenon: apparently when Shimpaku, which sports robust roots, is grafted onto other junipers that do not, it somehow influences then to also start producing much more robust roots, such that their foliage can take off with vigorous growth for a short while until it is severed to allow the Shimpaku to grow by itself.

Anyway, I'll try to post the work over the next few weeks as it proceeds, repotting and such.
 

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Ang3lfir3

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interesting that is something we never discussed before or I never picked up on ..... that sounds like an even better optioin that what I pruposed ... glad to be wrong about that and this tree should be looking gorgeous now and even more so with time in your care.... I have always appreciated this tree and am glad it is still in the family :)
 

grouper52

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interesting that is something we never discussed before or I never picked up on ..... that sounds like an even better optioin that what I pruposed ... glad to be wrong about that and this tree should be looking gorgeous now and even more so with time in your care.... I have always appreciated this tree and am glad it is still in the family :)
I actually think your theory is much more likely, but, yes, not as interesting or mystical as Dan's. Certainly the grafting was soon followed by an unprecedented burst of Sierra foliage growth.

I repotted this guy yesterday - it was late, so I couldn't get a photo, nor today. Maybe this weekend. It was sitting in the worst native muck I've ever seen except around the edges where there was some of Dan's old soil and where I had packed some good soil when I pulled out the lush grass that was growing there. Most of the muck is now gone, but still the roots were not as plentiful as I had hoped.

I hope the new soil and my secret sauce will help it recover. I would have waited another year for this repot, but Dan's been bugging me to get this particular pot back for some reason. :(

That entire sweep of "roots" off to the left, BTW, are either incredibly feeble or essentially dead - I thought I would give it the benefit of the doubt and leave it as if it was alive, but the design may actually be better if it isn't, in which case some ineteresting carving will be in order. :D
 
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Tachigi

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To start...love the tree..and look forward to your progression

A few months after the grafts were started, the tenous Sierra junpier foliage began to grow with amazing vigor. Eric suggested perhaps the Sierra's foliage was drawing sustenance from the well established Shimapku roots. But Dan, based on his experience and what he has learned from those who do such grafts routinely, believes it is due to a different phenomenon: apparently when Shimpaku, which sports robust roots, is grafted onto other junipers that do not, it somehow influences then to also start producing much more robust roots, such that their foliage can take off with vigorous growth for a short while until it is severed to allow the Shimpaku to grow by itself.
With all due respect to Dan...gotta go with Eric's version. The other (Dan's) borders on bad scifi where the alien blob absorbs the movie cast and grows to be super blob
 

grouper52

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Hey, Tom. Actually this theory is one Roy Nagatoshi told to Dan. I think I got the name right - apparently one of the big boys when it comes to juniper grafting.

Here's this guy is now. The Sierra foliage is easy to differentiate from the Shimpaku - more light, blue, thin, and distal.
 

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Smoke

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Why am I feeling like this plant needs to be laid over as a cascade or semi C? I can see it will be OK in this configuration but will always appear forced or something???????

Just me I guess....
 

buddhamonk

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Any updates on this tree? I'm just wondering how the grafts are doing. Which month is the best for approach grafts in the Northwest?
 

gergwebber

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so you grafted for the shimpaku foliage? ........ maybe graft on some more small junipers next to the base for the roots and cut off the tops?
 

Ang3lfir3

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so you grafted for the shimpaku foliage? ........ maybe graft on some more small junipers next to the base for the roots and cut off the tops?
curious why are you suggesting grafting on root stock?? we usually graft shimpaku on here because the scopularum and sierra doesn't like our moisture very much ....
 

gergwebber

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and that reluctance to moisture is only an issue with the foliage.....? if the tree's going fine don't worry, but as this was described as a formerly struggling collected specimen, my opinion for what its worth: worry about the roots collection is tricky with any native adapted to poor soil and low water conditions. I personally would think dieback and weak foliage in such a tree would represent trouble below soil..... but hey i've killed lots of trees soooo:(
 

grouper52

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Update:

Well, as is usual here, such grafts did NOT take. DAn always tries, then sends them down to Southern Cal where the spectacular growing conditions offer better success, and where experts like Roy Nagatoshi know what they're doing. Even promising-looking grafts left up to 3 years on desert junipers up here just never make it apparently. Oh well - good practice. I will likely give this tree back to Dan in a swap so he can get it done right on one of this yearly such trips down there.

But maybe I'll keep it instead: the foliage is looking very healthy and increasingly robust in its own right under my tutelage. For some tree species, I find, my little micro-climate here, and my care, seems better suited than conditions down at Elandan Gardens just a few miles away.

Some preliminary trimming and very rough wiring to thin things out is pictured here, front and back. The long ex-root tuned out to be dead and will make a spectacular jin. Smoke's idea of a cascade or semi-cascade is certainly still a possibility, but for now it stays like it is.

As for root grafts, I think the idea is basically sound, but the problem seems to be the unending moisture here and its effects on the foliage. Twig Blight and a bunch of other stuff hits the RMJs, and apparently the Sierras as well. Shimpaku foliage tolerates it much better.
 

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fore

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How is it that those grafts that 'took', looked healthy and growing, died? I thought after you finally got it growing and cut off from it's root system, the graft was a go?
 

grouper52

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How is it that those grafts that 'took', looked healthy and growing, died? I thought after you finally got it growing and cut off from it's root system, the graft was a go?
I thought so too, but just like a Christmas tree which can still look alive for a long time after dead, most conifers are like that - some even pushing new growth for a while from energy stored in the cambium. See that all the time in re-pots and collected trees.. :(
 

Ang3lfir3

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true you could keep it .... with a little fungicidal work you shouldn't have much of a problem with the foliage.... plus your place is just special in the micro-climate like you said ....

I love that we all live so close and yet all have different micro-climates .... its an interesting part of living in the PNW ... :D
 

fore

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I thought so too, but just like a Christmas tree which can still look alive for a long time after dead, most conifers are like that - some even pushing new growth for a while from energy stored in the cambium. See that all the time in re-pots and collected trees.. :(
Just when you think you have it licked...sometimes, not so lol Interesting yet frustrating thing about conifers.

You guys are lucky in my eyes to live in the PNW. I have family in OR and Wash. and I love to visit and just awe at all the trees, moss, lichens...
 

grouper52

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You guys are lucky in my eyes to live in the PNW. I have family in OR and Wash. and I love to visit and just awe at all the trees, moss, lichens...
Yeah, it's bonsai heaven here for a lot of species, and the real trees and flora aren't too shabby either. Take a trip out here some time!
 

chicago1980

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I'm starting to move forward on this Sierra juniper, and wanted to start a thread to capture the progression over time.

Here it was shortly after I acquired it about a year ago. Dan Robinson was over my house one day, saw a hollow trunked Nothofagus that captured his imagination so passionately that he said I could have any of his unfinished trees I wanted in trade. So I picked out a RMJ, just barely, and not too convincingly, starting to recover from its Wyoming collection several years before. It wasn't the sort of tree most people would immediately notice as worthwhile, and I don't think Dan thought there was any chance I would, but I certainly did. "That one." He was shocked and embararrassed to go back on the deal, but he had to: "Oh . . . no, no . . . any tree but THAT one!"

So I chose this one, which I think he also regreted. I had watched it struggle back over five years from its precarious collection in Oregon or California, only gaining a little growth in the few remaining live areas over the past year. It was one of my favorites of his, and I was surprised he let it go.

The picture below shows it a year ago shortly after his transplant into that pot. A few weeks later I approach grafted Shimpaku from two small cuttings I had grown, a total of four grafts. I left them wrapped and covered with graft paste the next year, and got in there to check them out yesterday - all four grafts seem to have taken fine, and I therefore severed the Shimpaku from their bases in gallon pots which had been hanging suspended in the air.

A few months after the grafts were started, the tenous Sierra junpier foliage began to grow with amazing vigor. Eric suggested perhaps the Sierra's foliage was drawing sustenance from the well established Shimapku roots. But Dan, based on his experience and what he has learned from those who do such grafts routinely, believes it is due to a different phenomenon: apparently when Shimpaku, which sports robust roots, is grafted onto other junipers that do not, it somehow influences then to also start producing much more robust roots, such that their foliage can take off with vigorous growth for a short while until it is severed to allow the Shimpaku to grow by itself.

Anyway, I'll try to post the work over the next few weeks as it proceeds, repotting and such.
Update on this tree?
 
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