Saturday, October 29, 2011

In The Air

Words by Greg
Photos by Greg and NASA

There's change in the air. Days are getting shorter and cooler. Snow walloped the other side of the state. Our internal clocks have begun to prepare us for winter hibernation. But so far in our neighborhood, it's been nothing but beautiful, colorful, warm and inviting.

We've accepted the invitation and have been out partaking in the rocky local trails, riding with friends who not only sense the change in the air, but get right up there and fly through it. Dirt and dogs. Rocks and socks. Warm honey light. And no better time to enjoy it.

Satellite photo from last week:

This week:(We're in one of those nice, dry, brown areas on the west side...)

For some reason it helps Trina if she holds her head on whenever her brother Derrell rides stunts.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Phoenix Graft: Juniper x Burr Oak

Text and photos by Trina

As has been said before, the phoenix graft is a quick bonsai technique. So quick that it took a mere 12 months to get past the first step of my first effort at it: two burr oak whips grafted onto a juniper skeleton that I hauled home last December.

The process began even earlier than that, though, with the gathering of acorns last fall. The acorns were then stratified over the winter and planted in March of this year. Today, the seven month old tree-lets (soaking in root stim before transplant)

were given a new home and hopefully a new life, as opposed to a new death, which has been the trend with my efforts at proper bonsai in the past. But this isn't proper bonsai. This is giant bonsai: more soil, more water storage capacity, more chance of survival.

By no means the *right* way to go about making a phoenix graft, this is how I did this one:

Drill holes in the base of the skeleton tree and pound rebar into those holes at angles that will give the skeleton some stability in the soil.

Place the whip/s. In this case, in lieu of carving a channel for the whip, which is what would normally happen at this stage, I'm using a naturally existing groove on the front side

and tucking a second whip into the back side of the skeleton so both trees will wend their way up the skeleton as they grow.

Tie the whip in place. The green tape alone wasn't enough to keep the whip pushed down into the groove, so I padded it with some tree wrap.

The "quick" part being completed, now begins the extremely slow part: waiting for the trees to grow and look like they're one with the skeleton, like the whole shabang is one really ancient tree with just a couple of living veins remaining, still producing green growth. In the meantime, I'll have this horrid little Frankenstein tree with which to frighten my gardener friends.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hither and Thither

Words by Greg
Photos by Greg and Trina

There must be some kind of excuse for our recent lack-o-posts, but I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it has to do with regular busy lives compounded by extraordinary autumn weather filled with perfect, sunny days. Maybe we've been distracted by snow replacing colored leaves in the high country. Maybe we've been eating melons from the garden and ramping up our production of comfort food in response to chilly nights. Maybe we've been enjoying late season flowers and hiking hidden canyons that will soon be cold and icy. Our bike rides have taken us into the golden evening light and have brushed into the early darkness and beyond.

In short, it's a glorious season and we've been very busy enjoying it.