Air layering an Arakawa Maple

First off, I changed the title of my blog from sikadelic’s bonsai blog to Gray St. Bonsai. Nuff’ said there. On to the work!

I used my trusty tailgate workbench again (my wife cleaned up the garage and I’m waiting for the kids to dirty it up before I add my mess).  The tools of the trade from left to right: a Ziploc bag and zip tie, long strand spaghum moss, plastic wrap, grafting knife, and a bucket of water. And oh yeah…the tree of course. 


Today I’m working on an Arakawa I purchased from Martin Sweeney. He’s a private seller who has some great stock and very considerate of his customers. It is a bit tall which actually drew me to the tree. It has a lot of options but is limited by the forking branches…hence my desire to layer one and start building a nice feminine figure (settle down).


The nebari will likely need some work but I haven’t reported it yet. I look forward to reporting it next year and seeing what’s under there. 


I bought this moss off Amazon for about 8 bucks. It came in a 1 pound bale which is a much better deal than buying a small amount from your local box store. 


I grabbed a few handfuls and threw it in my bucket of water to get nice and wet. 


Swim around in there a bit and check for stalks that can poke a hole through your bag and be a general pain in the ass. 


I used my grafting knife to make two rings about double the width of the branch I am working on. 


Scrape away the cambium and make sure to get down deep enough that it won’t grow together and heal itself. 


I got my bag where I wanted it and used the zip tie to hold it in place. By the way, those things are handy. I recommend having a few sizes on hand. They’re helpful for all sorts of things. 


I added the moss to the bag a little at a time to get a tight fit. Make sure to squeeze out the excess water. Once I had a good softball sized wad of moss around the cut, I wrapped it tightly with plastic wrap to hold everything in place. 


I left the top open so the moss can stay damp when it rains or I water it. I also poked holes around the bottom so it could drain. 


Now it’s off to the shade for a week or so before heading back out to the bench. I’ll give an update when I see some progress. 

A hard trim on a gnarly Arakawa Maple

I’ve had this tree for a few years and it’s been through the wringer. I had initially tried to air layer and thread graft the tree last year but it failed. It died back quite a bit resulting in a pretty gnarly appearance. To be honest, I didn’t think it would survive and left it alone aside from feeding and watering until this past weekend. 


It was growing very well and looked to enjoy the time off so I figured it was time to give its first real cut back to build a structure for the tree. 


This straight branch was an eyesore for me and I didn’t want to chop it all the way back. I didn’t have any wire strong enough to hold it so I improvised. 


I would like to get some buds to pop on the right side of the main trunk. I’ll feed it pretty heavy and hope for the best. I’ll also thin out the apex a bit later this year.