Tag Archive: vine maples

Fall color

We’ve finally got our rain back here in the Northwest and with that, more time indoors to go through the few photos I’ve been able to capture between the rain and flat, gray light. My trees seem to be a bit confused this fall because our spring was so cold, summer came late and we’ve had no cold weather yet to speak of. So, I tried to get what I could with the little I’ve got. Here’s the forest of Japanese mountain maples I grew from cuttings that was featured in the last post to this blog:


Another forest in training; this time the species is Vine Maple:


Fall color on vine maples can be a bit difficult to achieve if you’re not careful about where to site your tree; leaves get sun scorch very easily and generally look pretty ratty by the fall. Next up is a shohin vine maple I posted in an entry earlier this summer. Color isn’t stunning, but still nice and adds a little seasonal interest:


Another shohin size tree, Horse Chestnut, from seedling:


My Boougainvillea decided to flower too:


If you’re wondering what the netting is for, it’s to keep the birds from rifing through the soil; we had one of the driest summers on record here in Portland and my pots had the only moist soil for them to search for insects. The English sparrow is the real culprit and a non-native species to boot! While on the subject of flowers and tropicals, here’s a shot of a Serissa in flower with a bee in paradise:


And my night-blooming Cereus cactus put on a late show:


Back to the trees–a Black Huckleberry with a little splash of color. I posted this in an earlier entry too:


A very little Arctic Willow from cutting:


A little Lodgepole pine, Pinus contorta latifolia also featured in an earlier blog entry:


There’s a trunk in there somewhere, I promise you!  Our club hosted the Pacific Northwest Bonsai Clubs Association convention in September, where I set up a couple of tables as a vendor. Jim Gremel came up from California and kept me amused when things got quiet. He had some of his killer cedars with him and I just had to have this one, so I traded a mountain hemlock and an Engelman spruce for it. I love the color of the needles!


Jim tells me this was grafted to deodora rootstock and that the trick to getting movement into the trunk is to start them while still young. Trying heavy bends on an old trunk is very risky as they have a tendency to snap like a carrot and break clean so there’s not a strip of cambium to save the tree. It’s nice to get one that has all that going in…I’ll wrap it up with a shot of a common juniper I did a little work on between showers. This is the mother tree of ‘CJ’ the subject of a couple of entries this summer:


The sun just broke through the clouds, so it’s outside for a rare ‘sun break’ (never heard of that in Arizona 😉

diVine Maples

I never thought I’d find myself saying I’ve had enough rain given my history of spending fifteen years in the desert! I distinctly remember fantasizing about living somewhere that it rained when those hot, dry winds blew for days on end. I remember one stretch of drought while living in Tucson it did not rain for four months. Great place to get good photos! I  seized the opportunity the other day to get some shots of my vine maples, Acer circinatum, that do especially well in our moist climate. They are mostly an understory tree in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, eeking out a living in the shade cast by towering douglas firs and other large conifers. They have become one of my favorite native species to work with because it’s possible to find great trunks with lots of character. The leaves are a bit large but reduce with time being grown in a small container. First up is a large tree I collected in 2008. The roots were growing along a crack in rock, so the grow box had to be fairly long to accommodate them. The tree gained vigor enough that I was able to get it into the mica pot you see in the photo this spring. Its dimensions are:  5 1/2′ wide, 32″ tall with a trunk diameter at soil line of 5″. This is by no means a finished tree, so these dimensions very well may change. I’ve already got a place in mind to chase that really long branch on the right back to…what do you think? Would you shorten it?

A detail shot of the trunk:

I love the rough, cracked bark and you can see an area of shari that was created by borers. Next up is one quite a bit smaller I collected in 2007. It spent three years in an eight inch plastic pot and in 2010, I put it into this Michael Hagedorn pot I commissioned for another tree that seemed to be a good fit for this maple as well:

I’ve done minimal pruning on this, cutting back the branches with too-long internodes. There’s an area on the trunk in the center that died back because two large branches died. The tree is slowly callousing over the area on all sides–I’ll show a detail next of that:

How about a close-up of Michael’s pot?

I really like the crackle glaze on that one! Coming up is another one about the size of the last one, again in a Michael Hagedorn pot that was broken and repaired. I lost a piece and I think the fact it’s missing only helps tell the story of a hard life on the bench. You can see some bare leaf petioles near the top; I did a partial de-foliation of the tree earlier this month and there are already buds forming inside each of the cut petioles. The benefit of doing this is we get a new shoot that will develop into a new branch where once before there was a single leaf. This is how we develop more twigs to make the tree appear older and fuller. The new leaves will also be smaller and the internodes shorter. Such a deal!

The trunk was shaded by the canopy so another detail shot is in order. I really like the unusual branching habit of this tree and have only pruned away inward growing branches. The multitude of branches emerging out of the trunk are not causing it to swell and they only add to the informal broom style feeling of this tree:

How about some small ones? I found a group of these maples growing in a circle and came to the conclusion this was a rodent’s cache that had been forgotten and left to grow. There are eleven little trees all under six inches in height. I think I collected this  either 2007 or 2008. Either way, it has decided to stick around and I look forward to seeing its development over the years:

Last not least is another small one from the same collecting trip in yet another Michael Hagedorn pot. By the way, the little rodent’s cache above is in a pot by another friend, Mardella Brock of Bozeman, Montana. I really prefer using handmade pots and would have everything in a handmade pot if I couild afford it 😉

The leaves on that little tree have got increasingly smaller over the years; I also don’t re-pot this every year. Every other year seems to be the way to go with this tree. I’m going to leave this post with a kusamono I collected in February 2010. In it are a cottonwood, St. John’s wort, hot springs orchid (not blooming) grass and moss. I pried this little kusamono from a crack in a rock and placed it into this pot right away; it has never been repotted and seems to thrive on immersion watering in a rain barrel. All the little ones love this in the hot summer. Harvesting rain is one way to help me feel better about living in a place that has such an abundance of it. I don’t think I’ll be going back to the desert for anything but a visit 😉