Tuesday, October 18, 2011
What a decision. You would have thought I was choosing a name for a baby, the time I put into poring over two photographs of the above Japanese maple in the foreground. I chose this one in order to see up close how Bill Hudgins turned this normal tree into a weeping, fastigiate specimen.
The other perspective showed the same tree from farther away. I liked that scene because you got to see the wide gravel path that runs alongside this row of containers. It made for a better garden composition. But with the other photograph, you lost the splash of colorful trees you see here in the background.
When I asked Bill where he found a fastigiate (defined for our purposes as a narrow, upright plant with branches paralleling the trunk) Japanese maple, he said he didn't. He trained the tree to grow in this fashion, and I can tell you that in person, it is very striking, even when it's not in this blaze of fall color.
In the past few years, Bill, who owns a high end garden shop, has become interested in bonsai. He is thus more at ease with manipulating the growth habit of trees and shrubs. It took a lot of time and patience to create a narrow, weeping tree of this size.
There's something fascinating about an upright, narrow version of a tree that's normally a traditional shape with a trunk and spreading canopy. I have a friend, plant explorer Ozzie Johnson (presently on an expedition to China), who collects fastigiate trees. I love going to his garden and studying the leaves and needles of a tree and then all of a sudden realizing it's something familiar, but growing in this odd manner.
So far, Bill knows of no naturally occurring fastigiate Japanese maples. But, wouldn't that be a thrill if one day someone were to discover one. What a coup that would be for landscapes everywhere.