Grafting is of course an age-old process whereby one plant is united with the roots of another closely related plant, to generally give various benefits, such as vigor. However this example set me thinking about a few of the other novelty uses of grafting. In recent years gardeners may have noticed the resurgence of interest in grafted tomato plants - claiming to give extra vigor and disease resistance. But did you know that because they are related, a tomato can be grafted onto a potato plant, giving a 'tomtato' with a double crop?
Another novel use of grafting if to create unsusual coloring and forms of cacti. I don't entirely understand the process and certainly don't appreciate the effects but there is a curiosity factor!
The next example I am not too sure of. The chrysanthemums in the picture below were part of a fantastic exhibition of the Japanese art of training chrysanthemums, Kiku. (Check out my previous blog on this) I think this plant was probably created by grafting a new variety for each different colored tier. However it was grown, it is nevertheless an amazing specimen.
Family fruit trees have been around for ages. These are small trees that are grafted usually with three different cultivars of apple or pear which will in theory give a selection of fruit on maturity. My good friend Tony back in Nottingham has taken this to a new level by top-working an old apple tree with numerous different cultivars of apple. I forget how many but he has a whole orchard in one old tree.
|Graft union on a top worked apple tree|
|Family apple tree|
Back in the 80's I was responsible for the campus grounds at Reading University. As part of a restoration project we discovered an old manna ash, Fraxinus ornus, in a woodland called The Wilderness. It had been part of a garden that once existed and the tree was described in great detail in an old Gardener's Chronicle article, somewhere around the 1900's. The text described the tree's graft line and its contrast between smooth and rough bark, above and below the graft line, so we knew that it was the one. We treasured the tree but one day I noticed it looked frail and gave instructions for the branches to be supported. Sadly I was too late as that night the tree collapsed. A sad ending for an old warrior!