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

Easily distracted

I climbed out of bed this morning and began my regular routine when suddenly it hit me, it’s the middle of October! I know they say time goes faster as you grow older, but at this rate the years will fly by at the speed of months and I’ll be 90 before I know it! As I shook the sleep out of my foggy skull, I also realized that the joys of autumn are upon us.

There is something very special about autumn. I’m not sure if it is the crisp cool air, the scent of apple cider and wood stove smoke or the sight of pumpkins and scarecrows and witches, oh my! Whatever it is, I really love autumn.

Wait a minute – I know what it is – it’s the intense color of fall foliage!

Acer shirasawanum Aureum in the autumn garden
Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’ in the autumn garden

Today, I need to share with you a very special small tree called the Golden Full Moon Maple or Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’. This native of Japan is a sturdy tree hardy to Zone 5 with very bright yellow new foliage in spring. The new leaves look soft and delicate. As they mature, the leaves will develop a rich golden yellow tone and in some climates, may actually sunburn just a little. Planting the tree where it will receive some protection from hot afternoon sun is a good idea. As autumn arrives, the yellow leaves begin to transform into bright golden yellow then orange and finally a blend of intense reds. The show is spectacular and can last for several weeks. I noticed this morning that mine is just showing the first signs of turning.

Autumm foliage colors
Autumn foliage colors

Ordinarily my focus is on my conifers, but this time of year I am easily distracted by the explosion of color provided by my collection of Japanese Maples. I have a feeling, I’ll be sharing more of these with you in the coming weeks

Conifer Lover