A must have

Unfortunately, no space can be found in the garden to add ‘Bihou’ Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Bihou’, below), no matter how desperately I try to determine one plant or another as expendable to make room. I suspect that many gardeners are unrestrained by logic, bound more by the beauty of the flower or foliage than by good sense, which only partially excuses that once an idiotic idea settles into my simple brain, little can be done to dissuade me otherwise. My wife is a dependable check to my lack of balance, but she often discovers a purchase when it’s sitting on the driveway, waiting to be planted. Ha, too late, again.Bihou-Japanese-Maple

A time or two (maybe three), I’ve mistakenly made plans in mid winter, with trees and shrubs bare and the appearance that there is adequate open space. Probably, I knew that the gap would quickly be filled by spring growth, but this was ignored as an inconvenience. A few times the results have been disastrous, causing hardships for neighboring plants, but often things work out better than is deserved, which further encourages poorly considered planting.

This is a garden with a notable lack of cohesion, no guiding principle except to cram as many beloved plants into the space as is possible. At last count there were twenty three cultivars of Japanese maple in the garden, and there are more than one of several favored types. There is no purpose served by making an exact count, but probably there are thirty total, and it seems quite reasonable that one more could hardly be a problem. Here, my wife’s opinion will not be considered.

A long wait for a Golden Full Moon Japanese maple of good size was rewarded by a densely branched six foot tall tree. It has now grown another few feet tall and wide.

A long wait for a Golden Full Moon Japanese maple of good size was rewarded by a densely branched six foot tall tree. It has now grown another few feet tall and wide.

I’ve obsessed over an uncommon Japanese maple in the past, several times, and each time, over days or years, I’ve finally tracked down a tree of reasonable size that was not overwhelmed from the start. Though most maples are faster growing than given credit for, I am much too impatient to settle for a tiny twig. And, this is the current dilemma beyond figuring where another tree could be planted.

Coral Bark Japanese maple

Coral Bark Japanese maples are prized for red stems, but its foliage is unremarkable by comparison to other maples.

‘Bihou’ is a yellow twigged maple, not far different from the yellow twigged dogwood (Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’) except the twigs will eventually grow into thicker branches. The foliage of ‘Bihou’ is an unremarkable green, probably similar to the popular Coral Bark Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Sango kaku’, above), which is distinguished by the red color of young stems, but not for its foliage.

The Coral Bark maple in the garden grows vigorously, but I suppose that I prefer foliage over stem color, so it ranks low, far behind more favored maples. So, I cannot explain why I must have ‘Bihou’ except in my color blindness yellow stands out, and red not so much. And, I have never seen one in a garden. Perhaps this is reason enough.

In desperation, a stocky three foot tall Floating Cloud maple ('Ukigumo') was planted. Then, a year later a full six foot tree wasfound and planted.

In desperation, a stocky three foot tall Floating Cloud maple (‘Ukigumo’) was planted. Then, a year later a full six foot tree was found and planted. Unfortunately, the correct mix of sun and shade has not been found, so leaves tend more to green while the trees are establishing their roots.

The trouble is likely to be that a large tree is not available, and I must start with a tree only a foot or two tall. This will be more friendly to the garden budget, and could be a blessing if the tree is started in a pot on one of the patios. This will delay the decision on where the tree can be shoehorned in, and in the worst case a Japanese maple that grows only to ten feet can be transferred from one pot to another for years.

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