Rainy days and Monday always get me down.

What to do on a rainy day while sitting in your PT Loser, waiting for the kids? Well, today, I think I’ll do a little whittling.

The tree in the back seat will just have to wait, I guess.

I recently went on a Cub Scout camp out with my son Mathew so, being the man I am, I had to show off a little with my knife skills. I chipped off a piece of pine from a regular ol’ one by six finish board that my family likes to smash (they practice taekwondo and have a propensity for breaking boards and concrete blocks with their feet and fists. Beware, I have three black belts in the family and they are all very protective…..,).

Anyhow, pine isn’t the best carving wood but this piece seems to be working out. Maybe it was that abuse it was subjected to from my family beating on it.

I usually work with a little bigger chunk of wood, like chainsaw carving size, so this is a challenge. But if it weren’t for challenges, there wouldn’t be much more to life than eating, sleeping and voiding the waste collecting organs.

A tiki man, but I’ve done so many of them…….I know, maybe a holiday theme?

Put a hat on him and voila! It’s a holiday tiki dude. With an elf hat…..

But the rain has stopped so it’s back to the tree!

Escambron (it used to be classified as a clerodendron aculeatum but it’s now officially called volkameria aculatea). You saw it last, a mere two months ago, in this blogpost looking like this:

I think it’s done very well for October/November growth here in Florida, including a night that hit 38f (3.3333333333333333333 Celsius) which included patchy frost (not on this tree though, it sits over an old septic drain field that has never gotten below freezing it seems like. Gives meaning to the phrase “hot shit”…..).

The tree is actually greener than I usually see them, greener than in the last post. I guess it likes Milorganite fertilizer.

I’m thinking there’s at least twelve inches of growth here. Better than twelve inches of snow (sorry, I know that insensitive of me, being in Florida and all, making fun of you latitudinally challenged folks…..)

And all kinds of new shoots too. I guess I should work on them more often in autumn…..

It’s even grown a tail!

My next step is to defoliate and get rid of those new shoots I don’t need. Like the tail.

Many people say to me “Adam, when is the best time to defoliate?”

My answer is usually “Well, what kind of tree is it?”

But the real answer, with no irony, is “When it’s ready” and that’s not me being my usual smart ass self.

Look at the branch below…..Notice that there are two, new, small leaves at the base of the larger leaves. There is usually a bud at the base of a leaf on all plants, mostly on the top but sometime on the bottom, and this is the bud that will become the new branch when the main branch has matured enough or after you cut the grow tip.

Once those new buds break out and begin to grow, you don’t need that older, big leaf (older being relative since these are less than two months old), and you can remove the old leaf to direct the growth hormones to the new branch, causing it to elongate faster, and develop ramification.

Therefore, this time, when I defoliate, I’ll leave those new leaves and only get rid of the big ones (and not to get smaller leaves either. The new ones will be full sized when they grow out, at this point in its development).

Now for wire.

If you read the first post, I mentioned that the branches are fairly brittle on an escambron, and you either clip and grow (after establishing the main branches) or you wire them when they’re young. Like now.

Wire applied……Loosely, as I’m expecting some good growth

You’ll also notice I didn’t take the wire out to the tips, but I did wire past where I might cut the branch to.

The reason for the first, is because I’m cutting them back, but why beyond?

It’s easier to wire a long branch and it’s less likely to break if you have extra length to wire onto.

It’s also easier to bend if you have a longer branch, it gives you leverage.

Like so…..

Now I can cut to length.

And viola…(in all the years I’ve used that joke, no one has called me on it. I write “viola” and it should be “voila”. I guess French is a dying language?)

Just like the ficus in the last post, I am building the tree almost one branch at a time. Though I did get an apex out of these last two months, but it’s still a process.

Speaking of process, here’s the tiki carving. My wife thinks I should carve a bunch and sell them. Any buyers?

Back in The Nook for the glamour shot. I’m beginning to like it. It’s interesting enough and is growing enough to keep me entertained.

I’ll keep you updated (we are coming into another cold snap in the next few nights, so let’s see what happens. The tree is from Puerto Rico, so it never really gets a dormant period in the wild, so I think it’ll develop no matter what. Of course it never gets cold either……we shall see).

For the next post, I think I’ll make soup, to warm the bones.

3 thoughts

  1. Thanks again for your knowledge!!! I tried your idea on cutting AFTER wiring and positioning, and it IS much easier and better. You know, that leaverage thing… 😆
    BTW, when will the “Gnomes of the tropics” be for sale!?!?😆😆


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