My wife complains (again) that the ‘Crimson Queen’ Japanese maple (Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Crimson Queen’, below) planted beside the driveway is a problem. I believe this is the fourth year she has brought this to my attention, but possibly it is the seventh or eighth. In fact, the maple is not only beside the drive, but also growing into it, which would not be so bad except that a magnolia and cypress encroach from the far side onto the driveway. My common sense approach to this problem is that it’s fortunate my wife and I have small cars that are easily navigated between the trees. I cannot imagine pruning the naturally graceful branches of this maple.
Long ago, it was presumed by some in this household that there was a problem with two ‘Seriyu’ maples (below) planted to the inside of the front walk, probably too close to the house, but that was considered when they were planted and no harm has come of it. For a short while (only a few years), lower branches of the maples hung over to block the front bluestone walk when it rained, and there were continued allegations of poor planning.
But, this too was calculated when the small trees were planted, and few people ever used the front walk anyway. Today, the ‘Seriyu’ maples form a canopy over the length of the walk, just as designed. Along with a large, red leafed ‘Bloodgood’ maple (below), they almost completely hide the front of the house. But, no matter that the house is quite attractive, and despite my wife’s opinion on the matter, I prefer seeing trees rather than structures.
After growth in the spring, some pruning must be done to drooping branches to keep the front walk open, but this is nothing to be bothered about. The ‘Seriyu’ planted at the corner of the garage now grows far over the driveway, and though you walk (and drive) under it, delivery trucks long ago abandoned thoughts of pulling down the drive. Thankfully, the driveway is short, so the FedEx man is not too put out, and in fact we recently had a pleasant conversation where he asked for my recommendations.
It should be no surprise to you that Japanese maples have the run of the place. If a maple spreads to encroach on the stone paths, the path is moved. When a maple grows to cover a waterfall that was a marvelous focal point, well, this adds to the garden’s mystery. As you can see, it is necessary for the gardener to have his priorities in order, and here it is very clear where the maples stand. Dogwoods and redbuds are also given high priority, but a peg below the Japanese maples.
The question is occasionally posed, which maple is best, and this was the inquiry from the local delivery man. He was, of course, unaware that there are any more than a few types of Japanese maple besides the weeping red ones. This is typical, I suppose, of many casual gardeners who are unaware of any but the most common. When I tell the dear FedEx man that there are twenty-five thousand named varieties of Japanese maple (or more), and he is standing under one (with another over there, and over there, and …..), then the conversation must end because there are deliveries to get to before this old windbag gets going.
As I consider the inventory of maples in the garden (an actual count is never taken, so I only suppose there are twenty-four cultivars and thirty, or thirty-some maples in the garden), it is quickly obvious that there are more green leafed maples and fewer with pendulous branching. There are red leaves, and green, yellow, and several that are variegated with shades of cream, green, and occasionally pink.
As with many things in my life, I have an imprecise recollection of the garden two decades earlier, but the size of a handful of trees indicates that these Japanese maples were planted in the garden’s early days. ‘Bloodgood’ and ‘Burgundy Lace’ stand twenty feet tall and spread at least as wide. The ‘Crimson Queen’ and the green leafed weeper ‘Viridis’ (below) spread at least ten feet, and visitors are shocked and concerned that the lone Japanese maple in their garden will spread to obstruct their front walk. Probably, it will.