When poachers cut down his blue spruce in the middle of the night shortly before Christmas, the owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, was devastated.
Thanks to the generosity and capability of local landscape artist, David Mikulak, the tree may be on its way to regeneration.
Mikulak, owner of Natural Beauty Land, Tree & Stoneworks, is using a process called "grafting" to turn the remaining stump back into the beautiful spruce it once was.
"I will use a process called cleft grafting to regenerate this trunk back into a tree," Mikulak said. "Grafting normally is not done on a trunk since there aren't many tree thieves around. I make a clean, straight cut and create a wedge and expose the cambium layer where the growth occurs. I then take two cuttings of branches that are growing from the remaining stump and these branches will become the new top of the tree."
"The stalks or branches fit into the wedge and I pour the warm grafting wax, donated by Plant Fair Nursery, into the wedge to seal it and protect it," Mikulak said. "Then the owner will water and fertilize the tree and in a few weeks we will start to see new growth that shows that the graft worked. Once we see that, we prune off all the remaining branches on the trunk so that all the nutrients and water go to the new branches."
If the grafting process succeeds, Mikulak expects to see the tree take off and grow -- maybe reaching the same height within a few years.
Although Mikulak does want to get the word out about his business, his main reason for helping save the tree is to return the kindness that was shown to him when he first arrived in Payson.
"This community has been very good to me and I wanted to give back," he said. "I see it this way, a new life will soon be sprouting and it will be a nice end to this story."
David Mikulak can be contacted at 951-TREE.