A few weeks ago, this twenty-foot Japanese maple in the backyard was ablaze in red. (No color adjustments have been made to photos). In fall, the leaves were a muted shade of purple-burgundy and, before that, a bright green hue that remained through spring and summer.
This tree of many colors has seen several homes — I couldn’t bear to leave it behind at two different gardens. I bought it two decades ago from a dear, gentle man named John who ran a small nursery beside the home where he lived with his elderly parents. The nursery no longer exists, but I think about the afternoons I spent on the hillside there, wandering through rows of one exquisite maple cultivar after another. I’ve misplaced the name of my maple, an out-of-the-ordinary one that I may not find again. No matter. The attributes of this tree stand alone. They bring pleasure to me and others, every season of every year.
There is a little eastern cedar tree –Juniperus virginiana–growing beside the maple in its current (and final) location. It came up as a volunteer a few years ago. When the red leaves rained down from the maple in late November, some of them got stuck in the cedar’s prickly, green branches, reminding me of ornaments on an outdoor Christmas tree. For my photo, I was tempted to place the star-shaped leaves in a symmetrical pattern on the cedar. But I decided not to. Exact spacing is for indoor trees. Nature’s arrangement was perfect, just as I found it.