Ukigumo, It’s Great to be Eight

One of the plants I’ve owned the longest is my Ukigumo Japanese Maple. Some things we keep for a long time become part of who we are. Like children, books, cars or even plants. All the plants I grow in my garden represent a piece of me. I think of that funny scene in the movie 101 Dalmatians where the owners resemble their dogs. I’ve seen it often in real life too. When I had a black lab I loved dressing all in black when we went on our walks. It was fun to match my dog. Could that be true with plants as well? Do the plants that we grow represent who we are? If you have a big personality do you grow bright and bold plants like Brugmansia? If you are quiet and timid do you grow Blue Mouse Ears Hosta? If you are athletic maybe you prefer a mature oak tree that could hold a thick rope and tire swing. Do beautiful people grow the prettiest roses? Do skinny people grow skyrocket junipers? Who knows? But I do know that my Ukigumo maple has grown and matured over the eight years that I’ve owned it, getting better each year. I was so entranced when I first bought it that I wrote this poem. The first five years I grew it in a container and three years ago I planted it in the ground in shady spot with only late afternoon sun. It’s leaning towards the light, but otherwise looks very healthy. Once in a while I have to cut out the branches that produce only green leaves, they are more vigorous than the variegated leaves. This tree looks best in the early spring when those pale creamy pinks and whites and greens are shimmery and filled with light. This is one of my favorite Japanese Maples and I hope to have it for a long time.


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