In this post we have a series of photos from Brian to record the separation of an air layering he did done on an Casuarina equisetifolia or Australian pine. the equisetifolia is a species at home from Vietnam all the way through to eastern Australia. It is much used in Asia as a bonsai species and you can find many striking examples on line.
This is the tree before the work started.One lower horizontal branch on the left before a big gap to a group of three branches. Also an unremarkable nebari. The plan was to air layer off the upper part just above that first branch.
Here is the cut with a piece of copper wire wound arond the trunk to prevent the tree bridging the gap. This is a belt and braces move and not essential.
On top of that around the cut where the roots will form some rooting compound has been applied.
After this a 'pot' was put in place to hold potting mix to cover the layer cut.
Brian used what looks like a coke bottle which was left open at the top for easy watering. After just 12 weeks you can see the roots have progressed well from the bottom of the 'pot' where the cut was made. The pot had been wrapped with heavy 'duct tape' while the roots developed.
The tree had one branch on an otherwise long and relatively bare lower trunk. The layering is positioned just above that left hand branch. This will create a shorter tree with better branch density and arrangement.
With what can be seen in the pot there is no need to unwrap before separating, so here it is cut off.
After the cut the base remains, alive and well and ready to be crafted into something unique!
The new tree ready for potting.
Wow what a great mass of roots.
From underneath you can see an excellent strike around the full circumference.
Potted and ready to go. This one will not look back.
Not even Christmas can get in the way of a Clerodendrum. You just cant hold them back.
I made the air layer separation just two weeks ago but in that time it has firmed up in its pot and started to shoot everywhere I gave it a trim. So it seemed like as good a time as any to get on and make the cuts to prepare it for new branch development, and make the most of the summer weather.
Here is is immediately after the separation.
Every branch that was cut has started to re-shoot - typically with many shoots on each branch.
Before the next stage of work - here is a closer view of the trunk and branches. In the upper part of the trunk you can see a rather unattractive straight section that visually conflicts with the pleasing movement in the rest of the trunk. None of the branches have much to commend and there are simply not enough of them to make a decent bonsai. They all have to go as does that unsightly straight section of trunk.
Here I've marked up the piece at issue.
Here the work begins with the branch removal.
Just the last bit to go at the top.
Ive left the stub of that last branch to suggest a continuation of the trunk movement to the left. The trunk had a number of old branch removal stubs - from the original, presumably collection cuts. These cuts were flat and flush and so around the trunk I've carved these out too, to make more 'natural' hollows.
This is from the right.
And the back.
And finally the left hand side. Here you can see a few of both old and new branch wounds that have been hollowed out. The final stage, not shown here was to seal all the cuts with cut putty to prevent dehydration and maximize the chances for re-shooting higher up the trunk. Now we wait to see what it does. There should be a response within two or three weeks.
We are going to have a "Clero" day at the club at our January meeting. That will be an opportunity to see what this tree gets up to in the next 4 weeks.
Merry Christmas and HNY.
This post is an update on the air-layering of a large club tree, Clerodendrum, that was done at the club meeting on Sept 23.
The first three pictures are of the trunk of the tree from a number of different directions.
Suffice to say the nebari was pretty poor, comprising of very large primary root structures and no fine root development and trunk flaring. It was this poor appearance that was the motivation to complete an air layering or ground layering, to build a quality nebari to match the trunk.
This is the start of the work. Once a line was drawn around the base, the cut could be made.
Here it is nearing completion. In this picture it is possible to gauge the size of the tree and the cut.
Having cut and removed the ring of bark, plastic sheeting was placed over the pot medium surface to make a tight fit against the trunk of the tree. The purpose of this sheet is to minimize any upward root invasion of the planned layer potting mix. Without this barrier the tree's roots would rise up into the potting mix placed around the cut and confuse the signals about the layers success.
Here the dam (just a cut off garden pot) is placed and filled with regular potting mix.
This is a picture of the tree 11 weeks later on December 9, just before stage two of the layering - the separation.
The first indication of success of the layering is roots just below the surface of the potting mix. With the plastic sheeting in place it is unlikely that these roots have come up from the original root mass.
By just lifting slightly the dam wall the second favourable sign is more root evidence.
Taking the dam away entirely reveals very healthy and abundant root development.
Here the surface is raked away from the trunk to reveal very good root development from all around the trunk.
The pot was then tipped on its side to look between the plastic sheet and the layer cut to confirm the roots have come from the layer cut, making separation possible. Here you can see the major components of the original root structure where they have been cut through. There was a handsaw in the previous picture but this cut needed a chainsaw.
This picture shows the root development from the layering. To prepare for planting the roots were gently raked out radially from the trunk so that as they develop and gain weight they will be aligned to create an attractive nebari.
The final picture shows the tree returned to the poly box to grow on and stabilize. The branch structure was trimmed back to reduce any wind load and also to reduce any dehydration pressure from the much reduced root mass. At this point the tree is just experiencing what any other tree would during a spring root prune and will no doubt respond in the same way, with abundant growth. After a month or so for new roots to grow and stabilize the tree, the next stage in the rejuvenation can start - building a new branch structure - one that reflects the broadleaf character of the species and will leave the future bonsai looking like a tree!