Vine Maple… Tower… Experiment?
I had no idea how to title this one. Just as I had no idea, really, what exactly I was doing with my March Seasonal students the day we put this thing together. Which must instill a lot of confidence in my students. Seasonal veterans are familiar with me taking a left turn sometimes. But this time I was more than a bit uncertain about their reaction when I started our morning with, ‘I’ve this idea, but not the faintest clue how we’re going to do it.’ So with that, we did… it. Whatever ‘it’ is, I hope the photos will describe better than I-
The vine maple for our experiment. Vine maple, Acer circinatum, is a Northwest native which typically grows as a multiple-trunk understory tree. They are similar to Japanese maple. I collected this one in the Cascades.
Preparing the roots-
Tom and Ed are monkeying around with a plastic cutting board…
More monkeying around… Thanks to my students this thing was really well built. They were superb engineers.
Now the cat’s out of the bag. This plastic internal support was intended to loft a cascading deciduous tree.
Our bronze mascot crab makes another sneaky appearance.
I had to include this photo, as you’d never guess bonsai had anything to do with what these four are engaged with-
It did rather look like a guitar…
John and Florentina scoping out the positioning.
After some revision, our final support structure-
Tying the maple to the support- which in itself took some weird engineering.
We used sphagnum moss (‘orchid moss’) as our substrate. No muck this time.
Wrapping the sphagnum with cheesecloth, just to clarify the form a bit.
32″ H. After adding a few projections and licorice ferns with moss… there is some moss sprinkled on the sphagnum, too, so I hope the whole thing will be green in several months. In any event, (hopefully) it will shortly look less like a mangy dog that’s been mummified, but this is where it is now. Little leaves are now popping all over the branches. It’s in a greenhouse under a misting system and I’ll give you some updates on it in the future! For now, I’m thinking this is an ‘Ode to the Northwest’—full of spindly deciduous plants growing near rotting logs and more moss and ferns than you can shake a moldy stick at.
And an updated photo of the tower, after a few years’ growth.