I am uncertain of the cultivar name of the red leafed Japanese maple that borders the driveway. Certainly, it is a dissectum type, and taking a guess from the time it was purchased thirty three years ago when there were many fewer varieties available, it is most likely ‘Crimson Queen’ or ‘Ever Red’ (Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Crimson Queen’ or ‘Ever Red’, below). And of course, it hardly matters. Both are fine trees deserving of better treatment than this maple has been given.
When first planted the maple was along the front walk, but within a few years it was clearly too close and beginning to obstruct traffic. Two nearby ‘Seriyu’ Japanese maples (Acer palmatum ‘Seriyu’, below) partially obstructed the walk for a while, but this was done knowingly, with the plan that both would grow tall enough to walk under. Apparently, the pendulous, dissectum maple was planted with little thought , which is not so unusual in this garden except that when it was planted there was abundant space and little excuse.
In any case, at some point it became obvious that the maple must be moved since pruning a Japanese maple will almost always ruin its graceful form. By then, the tree was quite large, and part way through the slow process of digging to move it I became impatient. A long, nylon strap was obtained which was then wrapped around the half exposed ball of roots. The strap was hooked to the frame of our car and the Japanese maple and roots were ungracefully snatched from the hole and dragged thirty feet to the new planting hole near the driveway. Amazingly, and this is a testament to the toughness of Japanese maples, it barely dropped a leaf.
And so the situation is clearly understood, I am unquestionably slow to learn from mistakes, and within a decade the wide spreading maple was growing into the driveway. I know, I should be ashamed, but another decade later it’s still here, but with some artful pruning to elevate driveway side branches. Today, I cringe every time a delivery driver decides to back down the short drive, but miraculously they are quite careful and no more than a few small branches are ever broken.
Conveniently, the maple’s elevated branches have opened planting space beneath for hellebores and several seedlings of the red leafed spurge ‘Bonfire’ (Euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire’) have popped up despite shallow roots and reflected heat from the driveway.
Meanwhile, in the decades since the two ‘Seriyu’ maples were planted they long ago grew tall enough to walk under. I like it, but my wife scoffs when I say this was planned all along, I suppose since little planning ever takes place. What was not thought out so much was that the two green leafed maples and a red leafed ‘Bloodgood’ (Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’, above) just beyond the front door almost completely block any view of the house when they’re in leaf (along with a huge purple leafed European beech) . It is a nice enough house, and I suppose good design should frame a house rather than hide it. But, what the heck, I’m happy with all the maples and who cares what good design thinks?