March 4, 2011

A Follow Up

The damage
I got great feedback from commenters on my previous post about my winter damaged Japanese maple.  The trunk of my weeping 'Crimson Queen' had cracked in two from heavy snow this winter, and I got all panicky and heartsick about it.  I commenced to wailing.

Then I went online and posted.  And you commented.  And what was a disaster in my mind quickly became an interesting conversation with experienced and caring gardeners.

There were three kinds of comments:

1. Sympathy. 
Just what a distressed gardener needs; people who understand why a crumpled tree matters.  It matters.  Thank you.

In better days
2. Solutions.  
Several people told me they had fixed exactly this kind of situation by binding the split branches back together and it worked.

3. Adversity as Opportunity.
The suggestion to take off the broken half and then subsequently prune this tree into a curvy, more asymmetrical shape was interesting and thought provoking.  I could do that.

So what did I do?

I got my Doctor Dirt scrubs on and went outside on a bitterly cold day today and clamped the halves together with a vise, then tied the upper branches tightly with black plastic chain to keep more pressure on.

It is so cold here that the sap is not running much yet.  But as spring warms, I am hoping the tissue in the wound, now tightly clamped together, will fuse.

I can't even see the crack as the two halves are now pressed back together.

Will my husband realize his vise clamp is missing?

Dr. Dirt's techniques leave no gaps

If this doesn't work, all is not lost --- I will take Craig at Ellis Hollow's advice and simply take off half this tree's form and prune it into something very different.

While I want the fused trunk to grow back together, I'm also kind of intrigued to see what I might do with half a tree, a sharp saw, and some Felcos.

Thanks to the blogging community, I've got options and I'm no longer wailing.  You guys are great.


  1. Way to go! I didn't have any suggestions. So glad you heard from people who'd had this happen. That clamp really seems to hold well.

  2. Don't worry Laurrie I won't tell you husband that you swipped one of his clamps. I hope your tree responds to all this TLC.

  3. Laurrie,
    Wow! You will have to keep us updated on this. I certainly hope it works. It would be heartbreaking to lose that little beauty!


  4. Nice! Judging from the picture, and by the fact that you said the two pieces came together so well, it should heal over fine! The cambium on both sides will fuse back together like on a grafted branch.
    Keep us posted as the year goes by!

  5. Thanks, everyone, for the encouragement.

    Chris at Forest Keepers: I appreciate your close look at this and your confidence the graft will fuse.

    I'll post the successful (I hope) results when the tree heals.

  6. Yes...this looks promising! Have a great weekend Laurrie.

  7. Fantastic job Laurrie! You can't even see where it's broken at all. I've got my fingers crossed for you that this heals quickly. (and now I know how I can put hubby's tools to use for my own purposes)

  8. Hi Laurrie, I hope that the tree will grow/bind back together. It seems well worth the effort- such a pretty tree. My only worry is that the wound may be susceptible to future insect damage. My fingers are crossed for you and the tree. Enjoy your weekend!

  9. Cat, Marguerite and Jennifer, -- with all your encouragement and hopes for healing, this tree will surely be good as new!

  10. Laurrie, Like everyone else, my fingers are crossed very tightly for you. I'll look forward to seeing what spring brings for your little tree.

  11. I really hope the tree heals and continues to grow. I think using sap as a healing balm is so wise. However, if that doesn't work, I"m curious to see what you shape it in to!

  12. Glad you went for the save first. That's what I'd probably have tried.

  13. Debbie, TS, Craig, Thanks for weighing in! I hope this will be a "save".

  14. We have had success with bolting together split trunks like this with galvanized screws. Good luck!

  15. Melissa, thanks, good to know. I am hopeful this will work without having to put in a bolt or galvanized screws.


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