Tom Vong spoke today at our Bonsai Club meeting. He taught about three types of grafting. I have researched plenty on the Internet about grafting and I have found a plethora of interesting information. I have read several books on this matter such as The Secret Techniques of Bonsai by Masakuni Kawasumi (father and son), Bonsai Techniques by John Yoshio Naka and many other books that I have found buried on the shelves of public libraries. These books are amazing and and are written by very knowledgeable people; nevertheless, there is something still magical about learning from a real teacher.
Tom Vong is a very knowledgeable yet humble man. He was able to explain the basic and advanced techniques of grafting in a very simple and easy to follow manner. Mr. Vong is a self-taught bonsai enthusiast who seems to love teaching and is always very open and willing to help us to learn about bonsai if we ask him questions. He is known for working with trees that every other master has considered too difficult or, perhaps, were considered to not have the characteristics or the potential for a bonsai tree. Mr. Vong can bend trees like no other. There are even rumors that he puts some type of IV on tree trunks and strong branches with sole purpose to soften them. This injected humidity allows him to bend and shape trees in the way he wants. No one knows what is in that solution. What everyone knows is that a tree that nobody wanted to work on will turn into a real masterpiece in Mr. Vong’s hands.
His grafting techniques include materials such as a right-bevel grafting knife, TangleFoot tree pruning sealer, Scotch Professional Grade Linerless Rubber Splicing Tape 130C and his skillful cutting precision hands. He explained the reasons he uses these specific products during the meeting and it really made a lot of sense.
The care recently grafted trees require was also covered along with a rare seen explanation on how and when to graft Japanese black pines.
This was a very interesting lesson from Tom this month. My recommendation is to not miss these presentations at our club. We have excellent presenters that take the mystery out of difficult bonsai techniques.
Written by: Johan A. Garcia
Edited by: Stephanie Stein