Category Archives: Trees


“Acer Palmatum Dissectum Structure
Portland Japanese Garden

I love the delicate structure and leaves of Japanese Maples. They are planted in artistic displays throughout the Portland Japanese Garden. A staff of creative artists meticulously groom the trees. Each one is an art piece. I wish I could say the same for the Japanese maples in our Heatherwood garden. I focus on doing the minimum pruning just to keep them healthy and somewhat balanced. I dream of someday having the opportunity to work with a “Japanese maple artist” to gain a simple insight on his/her creative talent.

Strange Leaf

“Ed Wood Japanese Maple”
Heatherwood Summer

The hot direct sunlight brings out the red color to the tips of this Japanese maple. This species has quite a different leaf pattern than the standard palmateum or dissectum varieties of Japanese maples. The leaf itself is huge, about 4 inches. The east-facing side of the maple is protected by its canopy from the scorching summer sun we have been having. The west-facing side of the tree is starting to get brown seared leaves from the harsh afternoon sun.

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“Pacific Fire”
Heatherwood Summer

The last couple of weeks have been hotter than Hades. This week has been between 105 and 110 degrees. Today we are suppose to reach 109. This scene in our south east conifer corner looks like it is on fire with all the yellow and reds. We planted the “Pacific Fire” vine maple behind the Adirondack settee three weeks ago. It is showing off its flame-colored leaves. I hope that they don’t get carried away and burn off!

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“Twisted Japanese Maple”
Portland Japanese Garden

Many of the Japanese maples in the Portland Japanese Garden are truly a piece of art. How many years of meticulous pruning was required to create this piece of art? How many years of experience did the artists have before they even clipped a tip of a branch to initiate a desired growth pattern? How many years of patient guiding the growth habit did it take to create the twisted form of the trunk? All these and many more questions go through my head as I grab my pruning shears to form our Japanese maples at Heatherwood. Whatever I do now, will impact how our trees will look like 20, 50, or even 100 years from now. It makes me nervous!

Sometimes I Just Have To …

“The Iconic Japanese Maple”
Portland Japanese Garden

I usually am not drawn to that special iconic scene when I visit various “natural beauties.” But, sometimes I just must create an image. This iconic Japanese maple overlooks the main pond at the Portland Japanese Garden. It is the same tree that I photographed from beneath the branches in my previous posting. Over the years, I have haphazardly made a collection of images of this tree from my various visits to the garden. I have photographed it in different seasons, different times of day, different types of light, different weather conditions, and from many different perspectives. Most times, it is the first place I stop when I enter the garden. It is time for me to get serious and create a selective set of images that interprets this beautiful work of nature through my eyes.

Under the Branches

“Signature Japanese Maple”
Portland Japanese Garden

Every time I visit the Portland Japanese Garden, I stop by and look under the branches of the signature Japanese maple that overlooks the main pond area. I get a completely different abstract view of the garden looking through the branches and leaves.

This star attraction is meticulously pruned to create the maple’s beautiful structure. The environment in the Portland garden is perfect for Japanese maples and their delicate pruned structure. In our Central Washington Heatherwood garden, we don’t the same luxury. Because of the harsh direct sunlight, we need to keep a heavy layer of leaves on the maples to protect them. We can still have a similar overall shape, but not the delicate loose layering of maples in a less harsh environment.

To Aspire For

“Grand Overview”
Portland Japanese Garden

Summertime in a Japanese garden is a texture of shades of green with an occasional hint of subdued color. It is a combined texture of rounded and vertical shapes. Here in the Portland Japanese Garden, every spot is filled in with various points of interest. Various shrubs and ground covers provide the understory. Different species of Japanese maples are the primary base of interest. Tall conifers are the backdrop for this overview scene of the garden.

As I sit and look over our Heaterwood Japanese garden, I let my imagination flow and dream what our garden may be for future generations to enjoy.

In Search of Wine on a HOT Summer Day!

“Oregon Wine Country”
Dundee Hills, Oregon

It was a hot 90 degree day as we traveled around the Dundee Hills above the Willamette Valley. As we drove between wineries we enjoyed the beautiful scenes in the wine country. The sky was bright without a cloud. Rows and rows of grape vines spread across the hills. We saw this huge live oak on a crest of a hill and just had to stop and enjoy the bucolic countryside. And, the wine was wonderful!!!

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Looking Up

“Tree Abstract”
Yakima Arboretum, Washington

I have a habit of standing near the trunk of large trees and following the limbs up to the sky. I almost always find an interesting abstract if I twist around a bit to get just the right composition. One time back in Peace Valley Park near Doylestown, PA, I slipped standing on a log and fell into the crotch of the tree and got stuck. Luckily after several minutes, I was able to wriggle myself free. I am not quite as persistent to get the right angle these days!

Finding His Place

“Old Fogey In Early Morning Sun”
Heatherwood Japanese Garden

Our “Old Fogey” pine was planted earlier this spring to frame the top part of the waterfall. His head and arms are reaching toward the falling water. They seem to be stretching out for the sun’s gentle early morning rays. We patiently will give him time to find his place in the garden.