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.