January 13, 2012


Ouch.  Does it hurt?
We put it off too long, but we finally had surgery here.

In 2010 winter snow split a beautiful weeping Japanese maple 'Crimson Queen' right down the middle and I thought it was lost.

But it wasn't.  Temporary splints and traction were put in place --- a clamp, some plastic rope tied to provide tension --- and the two halves of the little maple came back together and held.

The clamp was temporary until I could do some tree surgery with a permanent bolt.

But you know how that goes.  I got busy, the tree leafed out and I did not remove the clamp or ties.  I didn't do anything, and it looked great all summer, hiding the yellow clamp and plastic ties under its beautiful leaves.  A full year went by.

You can't tell this tree is trussed together with hardware

Because the clamp presses in on the outer layer that transports nutrients up and down the trunk, it can impede the tree's function.  And sure enough, when we finally got to it last week and removed the now rusted clamp, there were severe indentations in the bark.  I should never have left the clamp on all year.

Jim put plenty of wood glue deep in the center of the split, all the way down, and then drilled the hole and inserted a 4 inch stainless steel bolt.  It was awkward work from underneath the low, dense canopy, but he got it done.
Lots of glue and a 4" bolt.  (There is plenty of glue in the top of the wound above the bolt too)
Last year - You can see how severe the original injury was

I enjoy updates like this.  Last winter I thought I had lost this tree.  This winter it seems to be okay.

Over time the bolt will be incorporated into the growing tissue as the trunk increases in size, but it will hold the two halves together as that happens.

Even though I waited a full year, I believe the surgery was a success.


  1. I bet your little tree is grateful for it's fix. I know I am grateful that I have some titanium holding my neck together. It feels so much better. I think I can vouch for your tree feeling better too.

  2. The tree was beautiful even with the break and your surgery stitch looks good. I'll bet all will be fine. Thank you for updating this plant incident.

  3. You bolted your tree back together? I had no idea that was possible. I just thought that worked in cartoons. It definitely looks happy. I wonder if a stapler would be as effective on a perennial? :o)

  4. I remember the neighbors coming to me, so sad. He was showing off his new lawn tractor and sliced a chunk right out of the trunk. They were amazed when I frantically fumbled in the grass for the thick chunk which I promptly stapled back into place.
    Every once in a while, I see him out there, running his hand over the trunk, in disbelief...
    Trees are absolutely amazing, aren't they?!

  5. YIkes! Glad you could save the tree...I had no idea they could be "glued" back together! Good thing to, it's a beauty :-)

  6. Lisa, yikes, titanium holding your neck together? And I thought my tree surgery was drastic!

    Gardener on Sherlock, thanks for checking in. It should be fine, at least I hope so.

    Tammy, if we could staple our perennials gardening would be a lot easier. I admit I have taped bent stalks with velcro tape : )

    Sissy, that is a funny story! It is pretty amazing. Tree grafting is all about getting living tissue to bond just by getting it to stay in contact.

    Scott, I got advice from a professor at Univ. of Connecticut to glue and bolt the two trunk halves, but I should have done it last year when the damage was fresh. Still, it should work.

  7. Beautiful surgery. A couple of my maples got hit, too, but unlike yours, they underwent radical amputation at my hands and are no longer themselves, visually. May yours have a fine recovery. Cheers.

  8. LOL I'm tittering over Tammy's comment about using staples on the perennials. I have to say I am impressed, I never would have thought that you could glue a tree back together and use a bolt. Is that a special gardening glue?

  9. Lee, I have seen your artistically pruned Japanese maples, and wasn't sure I could get so creative here. I went the safe route and patched this one up!

    Marguerite, no special gardening glue, it is just Elmer's wood glue because the tree trunk is made of, well, mainly wood.

  10. Laurrie, I'm so glad to hear your tree survived the year. I had a coral bark maple split into three pieces in the October snow storm and I put three bolts in the trunk to hold it together. My son calls it the Frankenstein tree. I'm anxious to see if it makes it through the winter and leafs out in the spring. Your tree gives me hope.

  11. That is a pretty amazing repair Laurrie. I too laughed at stapling perennials.

  12. Hi Laurrie, I remember seeing that tree last summer and being impressed with your ingenuity - congrats on a successful save!

  13. Debbie, I like the thought of your Frankenstein Tree!

    Donna, It was a pretty simple repair, and I actually got advice from a hort professor to use both glue and bolts.

    Cyndy, Thanks! I do hope it's a permanent save. I think it will be.

  14. Yay!! So happy to see the patient is doing well!

  15. Wow, this is amazing--I've never seen anything like this before. I'm glad you didn't give up on this tree. It looked beautiful this summer in spite of the clamp, but the bolt looks like a much better long-term solution.

  16. Cat, Thanks!

    Rose, The bolt should be permanent and you won't know next summer that it's there.

  17. Congrats! That is a beautiful tree and you wouldn't want to lose it.

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  19. Wow! Thanks for this! Now I know. I wish I'd found this earlier, I'm going to have to do radical amputation now, because I didn't do anything about my beloved ice-storm damaged Japanese maple. Didn't know what to do, but now, if something similar ever happens again...! -Puyallup, WA


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