By Jerry Meislik
In October of 2004 I visited with Master Chiu-Chang Chiang of Taichung, Taiwan. Master Chiang is a world famous bonsai creator, known for his "surgical" improvement to masterpiece bonsai, elevating them to even more stunning levels. During this week I was fortunate to learn many techniques from Master Chiang. Visiting with Master Chiang were two other students, Judy Hsiao and Susan Jiang. Judy is a fruit grower, student of Ernie Kuo and bonsai lover from California. Susan is a bonsai lover and hobbyist from New Jersey.
On this day we took a large Ficus microcarpa that was ready to be improved. As you can see the Ficus is a large but very well shaped tree.
Its final refinement stage will include replacing all its foliage with leaves of another Ficus microcarpa. Mater Chiang and the three of us removed all the foliage from the tree as well as all the small branches.
All stubs were smoothed back to the trunk.
Master Chiang, after careful consideration, placed tape at the exact spots that he desired new branches to be grafted.
One by one, each taped area recieved a free graft from a plant of Ficus microcarpa "Middle Leaf". The advantage of this leaf is its smaller size and the uniformly excellent color of its leaves. Each free graft involved inserting a scion of 3-5 leaves into a chiseled area in the recipient tree. Once the graft was secured with plastic tape, it was sealed into a plastic bag into which several drops of water were placed. For more details of this type of Ficus grafting please click here.
Once the tree was completely grafted and the grafts inserted into plastic bags, the tree was placed into a shaded and warm area.
By rough count about 120 free grafts were done in about 3-4 hours. This included time for Master Chiang to demonstrate his technique as well as helping us perform the grafts accurately.
One week later, examination revealed that nearly all the grafts were alive and many had already grown new leaves, a sure sign of graft success. Only three or four of the grafts had failed and would be re-done in the next few days. That is an overall success rate of something like 96%!
Once the grafts are growing well, I will add a picture to demonstrate the next phase of this tree's training.