Friday, June 19, 2015

Blue Green Dragon

After the rain at the beginning of the week it has been damp and overcast. Humid, but not really hot.

There have been moments of sun and with all the moisture in the ground, everything looks great, even pots on the deck.

Clematis are blooming, nicotianas are becoming huge, big creamy flowers are opening on the sweetbay magnolia.

June is busting out all over.

I spent the morning chasing a deer out of the meadow.

Each time I shooed it away it came back. I flapped my arms and moved toward it and it trotted away. But then it came back.

The deer kept returning and just stood there, posing. Perhaps there were fawns nearby lying on the ground in the tall grass -- I did not go out to investigate.

Finally I went in and got the camera and as soon as I came back out to take its picture it bounded away and hasn't been back.

Apparently a digital SLR with a zoom lens works pretty well as a deer deterrent.

Yesterday I brought a dragon home. It is Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Seiryu', which means "blue green dragon". Because of the name I assumed the leaves had a blue cast, but they don't.
It is a small cutleaf Japanese maple with medium green dissected leaves, that will get to about 10 or 15 feet tall. Fall color is brilliant as with most Japanese maples. Its small size and deeply incised leaves give it a lacy elegance.

It is the only dissectum Japanese maple that grows upright. The dissectum group of Japanese maples are weeping trees, like 'Crimson Queen', which I have in front of the house. They are small trees that cascade over into mounds of fringy looking foliage.
'Crimson Queen' has the typical cascading dissectum form

Every year I prune off about a third of 'Crimson Queen' to open up the congested canopy and give this tree some form, but it wants to tumble down and grow like a haystack.

'Seiryu' on the other hand, grows vase shaped and upright.
image found here

I have wanted one for the longest time, but never saw one offered locally, even at Broken Arrow Nursery, nearby in Hamden, which is a treasure house of special trees and shrubs.

I could get it mail order, but I stopped buying trees through mail order a few years ago. In general I've had good experience with mail order trees, but you have to buy them very small, and they have to be narrow, lightly branched specimens to survive shipping. And shipping costs for a tree are way expensive.

But yesterday, walking through Lowe's to buy a bag of potting soil, I spotted a whole display of 'Seiryu' Japanese maples. I was surprised. Lowe's, of all places.

They were big and leafy but just the right container size to fit in my trunk and to be planted by me without help. And the price was right.

Michaela at The Gardener's Eden in Vermont has a beautiful specimen that she has often featured on her blog, especially in its fall color.
The Gardener's Eden

Larry Conrad in Wisconsin had one that he showed on his blog Conrad Art Glass and Gardens, but I think he lost it to a disease a while back.
Conrad Art Glass and Gardens

Here's hoping I have not bought another tree I may have problems with. Several forum discussions about growing 'Seiryu' mention it hates hot wind in the summer and perhaps wants some winter protection. It is hardy to zone 5 but in the odd climate of my garden, zone hardiness is more or less random. It wants more shade than I can give it.

The only afternoon-shady spot I can put it in is near the dry creek bed where I lost two other trees; a variegated redbud and a native pagoda dogwood both refused to spend even one winter in that spot.

For those reasons, and because I never found one locally, I had decided not to plant 'Seiryu' even though I admired it so on other gardeners' blogs.

But then Lowe's.


  1. I am envious Laurrie. This tree has been on my list of Desire for a few years now. I hope and hope and hope with the best of intentions that your new Seiryu loves it's new home and in turn gives you many years of pleasure.

  2. I can't believe you found it at Lowes! What a score as it is a beautiful tree! And your vignette shots up there are extraordinary! I can just picture you chasing the deer away! I am doing that with the bunnies this season as they are munching away on everything! Happy gardening this weekend! Nicole xo

    1. Nicole, I know, what a surprise to find this fine tree at Lowe's!