Here's some quick pictures from the last few weekends:
This is a Sierra Juniper that I brought to a recent BIB workshop. This tree was originally collected by and purchased from Ned of Deadwood Bonsai.
One of the more challenging aspects for this tree is the fact that the majority of the foliage is too far from the base of the tree and the design I envision. I think it would look best as a short and powerful tree which leaves me with two option-either big heavy bends or grafting new foliage. Much of the large branch on the left hand side will be removed.
I've heard varying opinions on whether you should graft foliage onto native Junipers or keep the foliage natural. Currently I believe I stand somewhere in the middle of this debate.
Here are the Itowigawa 2-3 year old cuttings which we used for grafting.
I think it would be really cool to find examples of our natives juniper varieties with foliage that has good characteristics like being naturally smaller and tighter. It would be great If we could find these trees which grew as chance seedlings and propagate them for grafting. If my tree had coarse, large or weeping Sierra Juniper foliage, i'd love to replace it with smaller tighter Sierra Juniper foliage. Hopefully this is something we will see as time goes on.
In total, Boon helped me place 8 grafts on the tree. The Itowigawa foliage and roots are kept, until the two plants fuse then the roots will be removed.
I made a big batch of fertilizer cakes with the ingredients below. I used about 70% Whitney Farms and 30% cotton seed meal for the dry mixture. Then 50/50 water and fish emulsion with a small amount of Cal Mag and sea kelp.
I still form the cakes with my hands, but would like to try using a melon ball scooper with a ratchet arm. This time around I stopped making the holes in the top of the cakes. I found that this was more time consuming and I did not see much difference in the cakes without a indentation at the top.
Next time, I might try covering the mixture with plastic wrap for a few days to allow the bacteria to grow, which strengthens the fertilizer and the smell. Here's a picture of some of the first cakes I ever made after being covered for a couple weeks. You can see them starting to turn white from stuff growing on them. I let them dry in my garage, which I will not do again. It smelled absolutely amazing;)
Lastly, a pic from a short trip collecting California Junipers on private land. While in a lot of situations it would not work, we rode in style in this off road vehicle called a Rhino. It was my first time taking something like this and felt much different than usual. I think it felt like cheating, because my legs weren't even sore the next day.