A walkabout last Tuesday in the David C. Lam Asian Garden revealed that not all maples had yet lost their leaves. Photographed from below, it was an attempt at using the bright cloudy sky for background effect. Usually I avoid incorporating cloud-filled skies in my photographs, but that tends to limit photo opportunities during the winter locally. Better to learn how to work with it than not attempt anything at all, perhaps.
There are a number of Japanese maple Groups, with a good summary available via the Gardenia web site. The word “Group” is capitalized as it is a “a formal category for assembling cultivars, individual plants or assemblages of plants on the basis of defined similarity.” The Amoenum Group of Acer palmatum, for example, is distinguished by having shallowly to moderately lobed leaves, up to two-thirds the distance to the leaf base. The particular plant in today’s photograph may be a named cultivar. If that was the case, and we knew the identify, we could call it Acer palmatum ‘CultivarName’ Amoenum Group. However, I don’t think we have attempted to identify it to cultivar name, in part because we lack the history that is so often useful in determining cultivars. This is an old accession that was received from the campus’ horticultural operations over thirty-five years ago. Still, due to its age and beauty, it is retained in our Asian Garden despite the emphasis we have on documented wild-collected accessions.