Where spring remains winter and autumn visits spring

It seems difficult to believe that any spring could be longer, colder and wetter than last year when we didn’t see sustained temperatures above 60 degrees fahrenheit until well into June. Even then, the rains continued past their “normal” cut-off date of July 4. Last year I did see much more activity in my garden by now in both my conifers and Japanese Maples – we seem to be two to three weeks behind last year.

It was nice to have a brief respite from the cold rain for three days last week. The thermometer on my patio claims that we had a high of 63° on Saturday. Those nice days were followed by a mix of sunshine, rain and hail and a high temperature of 48°, and now we’re back to our cold showers.

Acer palmatum Goshiki Kotohime
Summer foliage of Acer palmatum Goshiki kotohime showing great texture and color.

I did enjoy spending time in my garden during those nice spring days. I transplanted several little one year old grafts into slightly larger pots and I managed to get a little weeding done. The weeds do love our constant rain and the fact that said rain prevents me from attacking the weeds in a more timely fashion. I also noticed that my Japanese Maples are beginning to push their new flush of growth (which is a sure sign that the conifers will be following along very soon).

Perhaps the earliest plant to push its first grunt of new growth in my garden is Acer palmatum ‘Goshiki kotohime’. This very dwarf Japanese Maple will often show signs of life well before anything else in my garden. Its orange/pinkish-red new growth is very small and always seems to sparkle because when it is trying to emerge, we are still experiencing plenty of rain and the threat of light frost. I always become a little concerned when I see its first little leaves popping out and I know that frost is forecast in the area. It does seem to be more hardy than it looks since it always just waits for the cold weather to pass and continues right where it stopped without any sign of damage.

‘Goshiki kotohime’ is a great dwarf plant. Its leaves are closely packed on thin branches giving the appearance of being more of an herbaceous plant than a woody small tree. Its new leaves push with brilliant color and then turn green with deeply cut lobes and undulating edges which create a wonderful texture. Being a slow grower, it is an excellent choice for the container garden as well at other themed miniature gardens where it could easily be pruned to maintain a smaller size if needed.

Acer shirasawanum 'Autumn Moon'
The spring flush of Autumn Moon may look like fall foliage color, but trust me, it is springtime – really.

Another Japanese Maple that I love in spring is Acer shirasawanum ‘Autumn Moon’. The spring foliage is an amazing blend of autumn yellow and orange which is certainly eye-candy while it can confuse ones sense of time. This small tree is a beautiful, compact grower with nice form and a very pleasant color all season long. I love how its color complements the blue, green and gold of my conifers.

Spring is upon us, I just hope that winter will release its grip so that we may enjoy more sunshine and warmer temperatures before the calendar reminds me that it is mid-summer.

Conifer Lover

9 thoughts on “Where spring remains winter and autumn visits spring

  1. Hi Ed, It does seem like spring is taking her time arriving this year here in CT, too. Most of my Japanese maples are just showing their buds except for my Acer palmatum ‘Yatsubusa Kiyohime’ – a new addition to my garden last summer. After being buried in feet of snow this winter, I was so happy to see it survived intact. And I was amazed yesterday to see that it had already leaved out. What a wonderful surprise! I’m assuming, based on the name, that it must be a cousin to your Acer palmatum ’Goshiki Kotohime’.


  2. I can’t beleive it either, we are getting snow today and spring is nowhere to be seen! I’m afraid there will be very little spring this year, only a segway into summer.


  3. Hi Ed… be thankful it’s rain that you are getting… we are expecting up to 10″ of heavy wind driven snow today… I have to admit to feeling a bit discouraged about that as it will flatten many things in the gardens if the prediction does come to fruition.
    I’ve also been finding a goodly amount of pine scale on a variety of pines. Last year I used an all-season oil and while it suffocated the scale, it didn’t do much for some of the pines appearance and color… especially variegated pines such as dens ‘Cesarini’s Variegated”. Any suggestions on dealing with this… perhaps some form of systemic? Thanks, Larry

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, Larry – I sure wouldn’t want snow now. 10″ back in December would have been nice, but not now!

      Larry, I’ve been fortunate not to have any major outbreaks of insect pests. I think that your oil technique is certainly a tried and true method for scale. I would think that once you get the population under control, you wouldn’t need to continue treatment, so your pines would flush out the following year and cover over any discoloration. I certainly prefer the least toxic method of pest control as possible. I wonder what eats pine scale? Maybe encourage the proper predator to move into your garden? I’ll ask around and see if I can find any answers. I suspect that if you needed to resort to a more toxic weapon, that a systemic would do the trick.

      I’ll check with my network of experts and see what they suggest.


      1. Ok Larry, I’ve talked with a few people and the general consensus is the best thing to do would be to contact your local extension service. They should have a wealth of information regarding the specific species of scale that you are dealing with and they would have knowledge about what works (and is labeled for use in your state). Another option is talking with the knowledgeable folks at your local independent garden center. They may also have experience and the products you would need. One thing that did come up several times was being careful when using chemical treatments on NEW foliar growth. If you are in the midst of a snowstorm, I suspect that won’t be an issue for you just yet. ;^)

        I’d probably begin with investigating the WI state extension service website and go from there. Maybe visit neighboring state sites as well depending on your location.

        I hope this helps you out.


        PS, I love the bird’s eye view of your place! I may need to pay you a visit one day.


  4. Thanks very much Ed… I think I’ll get in touch with the University of Wisconsin at Madison as they are very much on top of things. I haven’t had a lot of luck with the more local folks in the past. At any rat, thanks for taking the time to check in to this and you’d be very welcome to visit! I’m very excited as my latest conifer order is arriving Friday… lots of miniatures especially for hyper tuffa, etc… can’t wait! Have a great day, and by the way… I found three Gold Strike junipers in Iowa this past weekend… they’ve been on my gotta have list since you posted about them! Take care, Larry


  5. Hi there…I live in Ontario, Canada in zone 4. I’ve just added a 4 foot acer palmatum ‘Goshiki kotohime’ to my stone garden but I would ideallly like to keep it in an outside container- even in the winter. Do you have any advice for me with regards to container care and overwinterizing? Many thanks, Tory


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