Today was a bit more cloudy as compared to the sunny days we had all week but the temperature was still nice and reached around 60 degrees F today. It was a quiet day at the Horticulture Center which allowed me to finish processing the seeds to go to our three growers early next week. We have two other growers obtaining and growing vegetative plants for us (lots of tropicals and annuals!). We do like to “shop local” and all of our growers are within 50 miles of the gardens. That’s not to say that we don’t order from other venues but we certainly always have a wide range of plants converging on the gardens in May. Pat M. was in for some pruning and Bev D. stopped by to talk about some educational opportunities. Larry O. popped by with his grandson (aka “Bear”) and I saw a couple others as well. Today also included plenty of meetings and I’ll do a presentation on “Ornamental Edibles” for the Green County Master Gardeners tomorrow morning in Monroe, WI.
Well, I can’t say enough about the three-flower maple (Acer triflorum) seen in all these photos. The photo above is peak fall color in October for one of our two specimens. The one pictured is in the gazebo garden in part shade where it thrives. Native to Northern China, Manchuria and Korea, this small-scale maple (25′ tall and 25′ wide in time) can tolerate full sun or part shade. While it prefers acidic soils, it is quite tolerant of many soils (not heavy clay!) and the densely-branched and rounded crown offers a nice form. This maple gets its name from the flowers (clusters of three which would seem obvious) but the true ornamental merit is in this fall color transformation (see further below) on the trifoliate leaves and the exfoliating bark. The bark has vertical strips that showcase orange and brown inner bark. The contribution of the bark increases with age and I’ve seen wonderful single trunk and multiple trunk specimens of this maple which is perfect for the residential scale!