Well so far this year has certainly been a bit of a challenge, April has been one of the driest and coldest on record and has certainly affected the way things are in the garden.

In my blog of May/June 2020 I showed an image of a Field Maple which was so far on due to warm weather, that I was already applying fertiliser and watering daily. Not so this year, the tree is several weeks behind, as is clearly visible comparing the two images.

As well as trying to protect young growth from frost and wind, watering to a lesser extent has still been needed as the cold winds dry out the pots quite readily.

I also wrote about an Acer Palmatum owned by a relative, it had been dropped and badly damaged in December 2019 resulting in several branches being snapped. I had previously discussed options for this tree with club members and thread grafting had been my suggestion if new growth did not occur naturally. Sadly, new growth only developed from a single bud about midway up the trunk and thread grafting seemed the only reasonable option.

So as I described in the earlier blog I removed both the damaged and the undamaged branches leaving only the trunk and greatly reduced crown.

I discussed the best time to carry out thread grafting with some c!ub members and did some research by myself. Confusion reigned as the advice and research varied across every season but winter.

I had read an article by Harry Harrington and decided to carry out the grafting in late May based on the growth rate of the tree, which by then had a number of long threads growing from the apex of the tree.

This was my first attempt at thread grafting and hence I was somewhat anxious about both the process and the outcome.(The process can be read in the May/June 2020 blog)

The tree had several callouses where growth had been removed by myself and previously. I avoided these areas when positioning the grafts trying to ensure reasonable future branch placement. (I did not know whether grafts could be successful if they passed through callouses)

After completing the grafts the tree was fed during the remainder of the growing season during which the grafts extended freely. (Some of the internodes are too long but hopefully this can be addressed in the future as branches are redeveloped.)

In early spring this year the tree came back to life and most of the grafts leafed out and continued to extend, as shown in the image here.

However after about ten days I noticed that one of the grafts had failed to bud on the exit side if the trunk and had died back.

(This may have been the result of my pulling the graft through the trunk rather than pushing it through as recommended).

I had no choice but to replace it. I redrilled the hole through the trunk and threaded a new graft.

To ensure the best possible success rate the growth on the exit side of the graft hole needs to be stronger than on the entry side, and when this is the case the entry side is severed. I’ m not ready to do the seperation yet, maybe in the coming months. So you can imagine my reaction when I realised that on another graft I had snapped the branch on the entry side while doing the redrilling!

Suffice to say I was not a happy chappy, I could only wait and see whether I had caused more of a problem and I am pleased to say that the branch in question has remained alive to date, thus giving me hope that other grafts are slowly taking a hold.

So almost a year after starting this project I am cautiously happy with the progress, it has a long way to go, but you need to be patient in bonsai.