Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


This weeping cut-leaf Japanese maple has resided happily on my roof garden for five years. For the first time it's leafing only in some spots.
It used to look like this...
Now many spots are bare, some grey, dead-looking branches, some tantalizingly reddish.
 I'm sure it's because someone turned off the master water supply to the drip irrigation system last summer and I noticed it only when this tree started to shed leaves. I know I'll get grief from some building residents who think a tree is the same as a sofa; if it looks messy, throw it out.
Any ideas on what to do for the tree ????? HELP!!!!


Unknown said...

It's awful when bad things happen to good trees, especially a beautiful maple like this one!

I think your only hope is to look at the tree as a live sculpure -- don't prune out all the dead wood, but see if you can retain an interesting shape using both live and dead branches -- sort of like bonsai artists shape shari on their old trees. Can you turn it into an irregular, twisting form, or a semi-cascade?

Whatever you do, don't prune back too much, since maples don't like heavy pruning and it may shock the tree even more.

You're probably already thinking something along these lines, but hope this helps!

Ellen Spector Platt said...

Jim, your thoughtful reply is extremely helpful, and no, I didn't know about maple-shock from heavy pruning.
It's always about relabeling and re-imagining isn't it?

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