Following on from yesterdays post I thought it would be good to include some examples of approach grafts that were at Taisho en while I was studying. The two examples below are using approach grafting for two different reasons. The first is grafting roots onto an upper section of a trunk to shorten a bonsai. The other is using the technique to both replace foliage and graft on new roots.

What do you do when you want to shorten the trunk of a species such as Tsuga that doesn't aerial layer well? Approach graft!

Here you can see some new roots being grafted to a Tsuga trunk. The roots have been wrapped in cloth and are both watered and fed as if in a standard pot.

The taxus tsuga above was an interesting bonsai with an un-interesting lower trunk. The image of the bonsai could be greatly improved by shortening the trunk and hence roots were approach grafted onto the trunk.

The below juniper was undergoing a major change too. It was a tosho or japanese needle juniper (Juniperus rigida). It was very large stock extending about 2-2.5 meters in length. It had some great movement and excellent jin/shari. The future for this tree was to break it up into sections. By grafting new roots and new foliage along the live vein at key points the large piece of stock would be able to be broken down into 3 or 4 bonsai, all with nice movement and good foliage. Shimpaku juniper was grafted onto the tree instead of more tosho as it is a more popular species and therefore easier to sell once the separation is complete.

As you can see this is a large piece of stock that is both too big to become an exhibitable bonsai (by Japanese standards) and the foliage is that of needle juniper which is not popular in Japan at the moment. How would you improve this material? Approach grafting.

In this case roots are being grafted onto a section of live vein in order to allow the entire trunk to be split up into smaller individual bonsai.

Hopefully from these two posts you can see the possibilities that this technique can provide. The ability to manipulate your stock and bonsai is a powerful tool in the bonsai artists arsenal. Shortening trunks, adding branches and changing foliage types can be controversial in some bonsai circles but I think that when push comes to shove the results speak for themselves.

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