When Tony met George

George – a large Juniperus pfitzeriana was saved from George St, Auckland in October 2000. He was a sad sight indeed, growing hard up against an apartment blocks foundations, completely overgrown with weeds and large conifers and lots of dead branches.

From the day she first met him, Melody earmarked him for a new life. Once the property owner agreed, plans were laid.

Foliage was sprayed with Stressguard to reduce transpira-tion, the rootball moistened and wrapped in damp sheets.

Work on his removal was start-ed at 11am. The soil was bone dry, compacted and filled with builder’s rubble. Hard digging for Les.

His stature was reduced to fill the back of the station wagon. By 6pm he had been dragged on a tarp down a steep drop to the carpark below, providing great entertainment for the residents.

Already living rough his chances of survival were not great. He was planted in an old plastic fish pond (nothing else big enough).

Against all odds—he survived.

Now we have to find a hexagonal pot not too deep for his September repotting.

He has become a swan thanks to Tony’s encouragement and vision and his transformation greatly enjoyed by the Hamilton Club.

Before the demo Tony cleaned the deadwood and decided on a new front. This allowed him to spend all afternoon working on George to get him into shape.

The first thing to do was to tidy up the dead trunk which Tony short-ened.

Then it was out with the Arbortech to give the stump and some of the old jins a better shape.

Some of the branches need-ed splitting away from deadwood to allow them to be bent—this was done with splitting pliers and a chisel.

Working with the biggest branches first, Tony applied raffia and black tape to the thicker branches he wanted to put fairly severe bends in.

The black tape helps to keep the moisture in for a short while to help with the suppleness of the wood during the bending and setting of the branch.

These thicker branch-es were then bent and secured with guy wires.

As well as using guy wires Tony used some very heavy copper wire to bend the larger branches.

Secondary branches were all wired with the help of Peter S and Les.

Finally all the major movement of branches was finished.

With a major change in direction and heavy work on the major branches Tony did not want to remove too much foliage so this was just given a minor trim to bring it into shape.

Now George will be allowed to recover before he is repotted in spring.