I am not quite certain of the appropriate description for my plant collecting. While I might be fanatical, or obsessed, I’m not so far gone that I will pay any price for a favored plant. I’m not a patient person, but neither do I waste money foolishly, though some, mostly my wife, might argue otherwise when it comes to purchases for the garden.
While there are a number of smaller collections in the garden, the most cherished are the Japanese maples, with nearly thirty cultivars and multiple trees of more than a few. Some have been around for most of three decades, and others for only a few years, or weeks. Since not all were readily available at the local garden center, several treasures required years of waiting before a tree of a proper size could be obtained. While I’ve recently purchased several very young Japanese maple grafts (Acer palmatum ‘Orange Dream’, above), these were wild flings that are intended for planting into pots to sit on patios until they are large enough to find a spot for them in the garden. For Japanese maples that are to be planted directly into the garden, I could never be satisfied by such a small tree that would take years to grow into something.
Now, I don’t recall how long I lusted for the Golden Full Moon maple (Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’, above), but it was too long before I finally located a tree with damaged bark in a group of leftover odds and ends in the field of an Oregon Japanese maple grower. From July, I waited impatiently for early spring delivery, when I was overjoyed to finally plant the stocky six foot tall tree in a prized spot beside the koi pond. Happily, the bark damage was only superficial, and has never been a problem, though I questioned this for a year as the loose bark peeled away. The spot where it’s planted is perhaps a stretch into a bit too much sun, but only rarely do the leaves scorch in late summer, and then not badly.
This spring a cousin was planted nearby, the ‘Autumn Moon’ maple, which is similar except the newly emerging leaves are a bit orange instead of only yellow. This tree kind of fell into my lap, and perhaps this was a bit of a frivolous purchase since a tree so similar was already in hand, but one can hardly have too many of a good thing. I believe that it is different enough that the purchase is a wise one, though some in this family might be unconvinced.
As one Full Moon maple followed another, after waiting a decade there are now three Floating Cloud maples (Acer palmatum ‘Ukigumo’, above) in the garden. The first was planted in late winter five or six years ago, but disappointingly, its leaves emerged green instead of white and pink, as expected. I was certain that the tree had been incorrectly tagged, so another was planted the next year. Again, leaves emerged green, on both trees, so a third was planted. I was certain that all were planted with the right mix of sun and shade, for the foliage of Floating Cloud must be protected from direct sunlight more than other Japanese maples. As it has turned out, the problem was only a matter that the trees needed a longer period to become established since all three now have appropriately colored foliage. I don’t regret for an instant that there are now three trees, though I could be easily convinced to plant a larger ‘Orange Dream’ in place of one.
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I just planted a small grove of Japanese maples last fall, in a sideyard we finally cleared of a big mess of scrubby undergrowth and “weed trees”. It is part of my “collection”, as I still have several in pots. Love ’em! And yes, my husband and landscaper did refer to the overdue transfer from pots to grove as an “intervention”.
Gosh, I’ve never considered that an intervention might be needed for my collecting habit. Fortunately, this property is large enough and with several patios there’s more space for potted maples for at least a few more years. By the time they grow to become a problem I’ll probably be dead and gone, but there are worse problems.
And worse vices, as I keep reminding my loved ones!
It’s not a Japanese maple, but if you love the variety in small maples, look at moosewood/striped maple. This one might go in the ground, but I’ve actually had one in a pot for quite some time. Pretty bark, gorgeous (rather un-maple-y) flowers, and lovely fall color – what’s not to like?
Great tree, but a bit large for any open spaces remaining in the garden. The Japanese maples I’m growing in pots are ones that will remain under ten feet tall with the exception of some seedlings that I’ve potted from the garden that look interesting. I’ll grow these on until they’re too large to pot up into a larger container, then I’ll figure what to do. Probably, someone will take them off my hands.