Friday, May 27, 2011

Garden Update: 'Koto No Ito' in Spring

When I first started my blog two years ago, I had high hopes for writing about my gardening adventures and posting regular updates on my beloved plants.  I even began a weekly feature I named "Plants of Promise."  And I managed to keep up with it for three whole weeks.

Now, to be fair, a whole lot of unexpected life happened around that time.  In particular, the painful uprooting of both me and my plants from the placed we'd called home.  And it would be many long months before any of us would settle in, find our feet, learn to breathe and grow and live.

But here we are, some two years later, and finally I'm back in the garden on a near-daily basis, checking on my plants and willing them to grow and bloom and thrive.  Which means it's high time for a little update on some of my most treasured plants.

Today I'm giving you a peek at my beautiful Koto No Ito Japanese Maple in all its springtime glory.  It's no secret that I have a bit of a love affair going on with all Japanese Maples (Acer palmatum).  I only own one, though, and it's the 'Koto No Ito' variety.  Translated from Japanese, Koto No Ito means "strings of a harp" and this reflects the tree's unique leaf shape, which is especially evident as the leaves first emerge in spring.

Dark pink sepals open to reveal bright yellow-green leaves with deeply cut lobes, draping off branches like clusters of strings.

Acer palmatum koto no ito leaves

Acer palmatum koto no ito leaves

Acer palmatum koto no ito leaves



As the leaves unfurl, tiny red-stalked flowers open in clusters.

Acer palmatum koto no ito blooms

Acer palmatum koto no ito blooms

Acer palmatum koto no ito blooms


As the season wears on, the leaves gradually open and broaden out a bit, their color deepening to a fresh green.

Acer palmatum koto no ito leaves

Acer palmatum koto no ito leaves


And all the flowers mature into tiny little samaras dancing in the wind.

Acer palmatum koto no ito samaras

Acer palmatum koto no ito samaras


Here is my little Koto No Ito with the leaves unfurling and the flowers just coming into bloom:

Acer palmatum koto no ito

Acer palmatum koto no ito


And this is about a month later when the leaves have fully opened and the samaras have formed:
Acer palmatum koto no ito

Acer palmatum koto no ito


My tree has survived some very cold winters these past couple years and seems to be thriving in its container.  In fact, it's currently in need of root pruning, as the roots are growing out from the bottom of the pot.  I'll likely transplant it to a slightly deeper and less tapered container in the fall, but trimming the roots will keep the tree at a manageable size for my little garden.  My tree isn't a lot taller than when I bought it about two and a half years ago, but the leaf canopy has spread out beautifully.  And I love to watch the wind whispering through my little maple tree, as its leaves are the perfect shape for dancing.

Stay tuned for more garden updates in the weeks to come!

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