training plants for walking sticks

In my free time i search out sticks that make good hiking aids or ornamental hearth decorations. I was hoping to find a plant that i could train to grow into particular bends and even wrap a vine around a stick so that the 2 would grow together, as this is the rarest type of stick i can find. I recently purchased a small ficus tree that had been trained to grow into a corkscrew....so i can assume this tree is trainable, but the wood must be strong and somewhat fast growing. Apologies if this is not the appropriate group....thank you in advance for any helpful links/books/etc.
Let it grow!!!
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rec.gardens also
On 26 Jan 2004 09:20:37 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (Yelram) wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (Yelram) wrote in

I'm an amateur bonsai grower, so I've done many of the things you're asking about, but on a small scale.
This is all horticulturally possible, but the longer your growing season, the easier it'll be. Florida is better than Minnesota.
Look for bonsai books or books on grafting for techniques.
It will take several growing seasons to get the effects you want. Maybe a couple of years for bends to "take", or for two plants to fully fuse together.
For the vine wrapped around a larger stick, they need to be grown for a while in tight contact.
Start with two plants of the same species, one large diameter, one thin and whippy. Maples would be great for this, they grow fairly fast, you'd have great stick wood.
The cambium tissues will eventually fuse together if the species are identical (or similar enough). This is the basic idea behind an "approach graft", see standard gardening references.
I'd spiral the small seedling around the larger plant, and wrap both with floral tape to hold them tight together. As the top of the small one grows, keep wrapping and tying the new growth to the main trunk. Leave some small branches and leaves to grow on the lower parts of the plants. Floral tape will tear bvefore you do damage to either plant.
Fertilize like crazy, leave alone for two years at least. The wrapping will have mostly decayed by the start of year 3, the whip will have grown in place. Look carefully for signs that they're fusing together. I'd guess you'll want to wait all of year three before you harvest.
Bends can be done by wrapping smaller twigs or branches with wire and then bending the wire. Look at a good bonsai book to see this done. It's easy to bend a 1/4" branch, very hard to bend a 1" branch. It's too difficult to describe how to apply the wire here, try a library for bonsai books.
You can also do similar things with tourniquets and guy wires, but bonsai techniques aim at getting very controllable results.

The growing seedling / small plant was probably wrapped around a wood stake and then held in place with ties of some kind. The stake is removed at the end (or it rots). This might take 3 or 4 years in Florida for a 3 foot plant.

Good luck and !!!be patient!!!
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On 26 Jan 2004 09:20:37 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (Yelram) wrote:

Try the "walking stick cabbage" (I think it's a cabbage)
This is an inedible plant that grows like a naked brussels sprout stalk and has no useful purpose whatsoever. Except that you can dry the stalks and use them as a walking stick. They already grow to be fairly knobbly, and I think they're trainable.
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Maybe some info or knowledge sources here:
http://www.stickmakers.org /
-JBB

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I've found a couple corkscrew tree in the woods that I watched grow for years. I think they were maples based on the make up of those woods and there were vines wrapped around them. Unfortunately they died and I didn't harvest them quick enough... dry rot.
I brought one home that was about 3" at the butt but my kids broke it. I'll post some pictures of the remains in ABPW.
John
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