Category Archives: Japanese Maple

Its been one year.

July 2015, my family and I packed up our worldly belongings and headed north to Portland Oregon. Claire, Goldie the goldfish, Suzie Q our dog and I in the car. Mark and our bunny Amelia in a Uhaul. It felt like a mad dash to get on the road but once we did the miles slipped by and we fell into travel time with Goldie the first to shout out “Are we there yet?”.

We spent the 4th of July in Marin County with fine friends and a killer view.
We spent our last California 4th of July in Marin County with fine friends and a killer view.
Goodby Lyon Avenue. You taught us much.
Goodby Lyon Avenue!

A few weeks before the move I loaded up the truck with my pruning ladder and 30 trees. I had big plans for them in Oakland and now I have big plans for them in Portland! I covered them with burlap and they made the drive with only a few burnt leaves and lived happily with my sister in Portland until I could catch up to them.

There are 30 trees packed into the bed of that truck. Mostly conifers and a few maples.
There are 30 trees packed into the bed of the truck. Mostly conifers and a few maples.
We were pleasantly surprised by the view outside of our new apartment window. We had definitely arrived in Oregon. Land of big trees to say the least.
We were pleasantly surprised by the view outside of our new apartment window. We had definitely arrived in Oregon. Land of big trees to say the least.
The Great Northwest.
The Great Northwest. Our journey begins!

The rest of the summer flew by in a whirlwind of unpacking boxes, keeping Claire busy and getting use to the hot summer weather. In September I was off to The American Conifer Society national meeting in Petaluma CA. It didn’t take long for me to go back to California! In October I was off to Durham NC to participate as an instructor for the NAJGA regional workshop at the Duke Gardens in the newly installed Pine Clouds Mountain Stream garden. Before long the holidays descended and Claire got to play in the snow and eat ice off of the fir trees.

Fir Ice
Yum?

We made it through our first winter and enjoyed the crazy growth that comes with a North West spring.

This maple has been sheared into a ball for quite a few years. This is the resulting spring push. It now belongs to me and my family so keep a look out for future progress photos.
This maple has been sheared into a ball for quite a few years. This is the resulting spring push. It now belongs to me and my family so keep a look out for future progress photos as I attempt to return it to a natural form.
This is the view of that crazy maple from inside. Beautiful trunks framed by the window.
A view of that crazy maple from inside. It has beautiful trunks framed by the window. This is the primary viewpoint for this tree.

This brings me back to July. One year later. It has been a wild year. I miss everyone in California, my home for 15 years. But Portland has welcomed us with open arms and we are so happy to be here!

Maple and Moss
Maple and Moss

May Maples

In the San Francisco Bay area May is a great time for spring pruning of Japanese maples of all kinds. Pruning this time of year sets them up for looking great the rest of the summer.

Before photo of Japanese Maple with Blue Spruce
Before photo of Japanese Maple with Blue Spruce
After View of Japanese Maple thinned and opened up for the view.
After View of Japanese Maple thinned and opened up for the view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This winter we will do some work on the blue spruce below. They are growing as a pair and already the Spruce looks better with all the dead leaves brushed off the top of its branches.

View from the kitchen sink.
View from the kitchen sink.
Forest tapestry inside the dinning room. Aesthetic Pruning can enhance how the tree is experienced from the inside as well as outside view.
Forest tapestry inside the dinning room. Aesthetic Pruning can enhance how the tree is experienced from the inside as well as outside view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the views from the second story windows. It really looks like a living tapestry inside.

After photo. A little more breathing room and some selective cuts to establish the structure for future growth.
After photo. A little more breathing room and some selective cuts to establish the structure for future growth.
A little wild looking. It needs to grow into its leaves and establish a structure.
A little wild looking. It needs to grow into its leaves and establish a structure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More maples!

After photo - view from outside.
After photo – view from outside.
View from outside before pruning.
View from outside before pruning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the next view from inside.

View from inside before pruning.
View from inside before pruning.
After pruning - View from inside the living room. The tree was positioned so the trunk and branches are at their best from inside.
After pruning – View from inside the living room. The tree was positioned so the trunk and branches are at their best from inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So many maples so little time! I love all the different leaf shapes, colors, structure and light play.

 

 

 

 

Thoughtful pruning of Japanese Maples

These two maples create a wonderful experience at the entry of this home.  In past years they had been sheared into a ball but then let to grow out again.  It left a lot of die-back in the interior.  I pruned out the dead branches, removed crossing branches and unruly growth especially around the eaves of the house.

Before Pruning and Cleaning out of dead wood
Tree on the right has been pruned
After photo of Pruned Japanese Maples

 

Japanese Maple Spring Pruning

Japanese Maple before spring pruning
Japanese Maple after spring pruning - beautiful trunk, branches and wonderful light!

Upon first glance, it might be hard to even tell this is a tree not a large shrub. Under previous ownership, it use to be sheared every year into a round ball. Now the goal is to have a more natural shaped canopy as well as open it up so the interesting branches and trunk can be viewed. Oh, and look like an actual tree!

You will notice in the “before” picture how dark it is under the tree and how you can’t even see the branches or trunk but in the “after” picture, dappled light makes the whole garden seems lighter and breathe easier. I admit I pruned the juniper in the background as well but that is another story!

This is a familiar scenario –Large Japanese maple, close to the house with the original design intent long forgotten. It may take a few years of spring and winter pruning to get the tree back to looking like a tree and not a lolly pop but each season I am more impressed with how the tree is revealing its true essence.