It was a lovely Monday morning to procrastinate with plants--especially after an overnight thunderstorm that seemed to encourage even more leafing and greening of the woods. I happily agreed to be Pat's assistant in his plant laboratory. He was grafting apple and pear trees onto sturdy root stock. The purpose of grafting is to marry tasty fruit trees onto healthy, disease resistant root stock in order to propagate hearty fruit trees more likely to survive in our particular climate. Grafting is also the only way to reproduce a specific variety of fruit. It costs less to do the grafting yourself than to buy an already established tree, but grafting is an art as much as a science. So, Pat bought a dozen scions with which to practice. If they survive the year, we'll plant them in the nuttery.
Pat began by slicing at an angle into the apple or pear tree part and then notching it. He did the same to the apple or pear root stock. He fit the two freshly cut ends together as if he was assembling a tongue and groove joint. In fact, this practice is called the whip and tongue.
Next, I bandaged the fragile joint together with a waxy tape --binding it carefully and avoiding touching the exposed wound. Once snug, I sealed the surgery with a sticky, amber wax that caused me to salivate about dipping future apples into sticky caramel. Sigh, I'm getting ahead of myself.
Finally, we planted the fabricated peculiarities into a small nursery next to the hoop house where Pat is now enclosing them with a protective fence. While we can't be sure if our experiments were successful, I wonder, as the skies thicken with storms clouds and thunder rolls through the damp rainfall, what could our new creations be thinking?
It is true, we shall be monsters, cut off from all the world; but on that account we shall be more attached to one another.”
― Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein
Anna Lentz, artist and writer, blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.