Sunday, April 13, 2014

April ... Flowers!

It's well and truly spring here in the Pacific Northwest. Have some flowers!

More blooms after the break!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Garden Therapy: Japanese Maple Edition

... And then something lovely happened.

I was standing under this Bloodgood japanese maple when it decided to say hello. A breeze was blowing through, rustling the canopy and pulling invisible strings to animate a low branch. First the branch gave me a soft pat on the head, which caused me to look up. Then it stroked my face, making me smile. Then the breeze gained strength and the branch began to dance, leaves tickling my face and making me laugh.

Japanese maple tickle therapy. What a wonderful world.

This japanese maple's story of rebirth

I guess the Bloodgood has forgiven me for being a crappy caregiver last year. It was a poorly thought-out Home Depot purchase. Overpriced and under-cared-for, poor thing. The branches were all twisted around each other and heading for the sky in an unattractive way, like it had been crammed in so tightly with other nursery stock for so long that it hadn't had room to stretch and spread and acquire that graceful shape that these trees are known for. Quite a bit of dead wood, too. Plus, I didn't keep it adequately watered through its first summer in the ground. Amateur mistake. This tree had a lot to overcome.

A couple of weeks ago I squished my way across the yard to this maple with loppers in hand. I had no intention of pruning any living wood. The tree was leafing out nicely and it was easy to identify all of the dead wood. That was the stuff I was after. The thing is, there was so much dead wood that by the time I was done, the canopy was only half the size it had been previously. Woah. The poor tree had really suffered last year.

I even had to figure out how far back to cut a branch that was thoroughly orange and dry with death, but had completely fused itself to a living branch that it was crossing. I ended up making the cut an inch or so above the self-grafted point, and at a clean 45-degrees to help water run off instead of sitting and soaking into the dead wood. I have no idea how quickly the remaining dead wood will rot, but I hope very much that the living branch it's stuck to will continue to thrive anyway.

After all this tree had suffered, I'd figured it would take many long years before it could develop any kind of grace. But you know what happened once all the dead branches were gone and I stepped out from under it to have a look?

The tree was beautiful.

The remaining branches were few, but they were the ones that had managed to stretch and spread in that classic japanese maple way. The multi-tiered structure that just wasn't there before had suddenly been revealed. From the ashes of a winter of abuse and struggle, this maple had sprung ... into brilliant life and loveliness.

Fucking phoenix, this tree.

Garden Anxiety: Japanese Maple Edition

My Sango-kaku (coral bark) japanese maple appears to have a couple of bleeding cankers near the base of the trunk. The blood started flowing weeks ago and I have been making worried faces at it ever since. The bleeding has since stopped, but I still worry that the wounds are being invaded by evil buggies, or that said wounds are just symptoms of some much more terrible malady that will end up killing my beautiful little tree. Beyond frowning a lot, I have no idea what to do. It's likely there's nothing much that I can do, anyway.

There's that worried face, again.

Also, the Sango-kaku's leaves seem reluctant to unfurl completely. Related issue? Or am I just being impatient and paranoid? This tree gets more shade than my other japanese maples, so perhaps the slow-motion leafing-out is to be expected. Yeah, that's probably it.

But maybe it's something else. The Tamukeyama is out in the sun and it too is being a bit slow to leaf out.

But maybe that's because this is the Tamukeyama's first spring in the ground.

But the Bloodgood and the Viridis are having their first spring as well and they're fully leafed and dangling little flower babies and everything!


... And where the hell is my new issue of Garden Gate? I need garden porn therapy and I need it now, dammit!