You might remember this photo from Wednesday. It’s a Japanese maple tree leafing out. It’s an unnamed variety that I bought on closeout at a box store in 1995. I had originally planned to turn it into a bonsai because it was so stunted and misshapen.
Fast forward a year or two and my best intentions never happened and it turned out to be an okay tree. So I planted it–I was trying to replace a cornus florida that was dying.
Once again, nature has a way of saying “oh really?” when you least expect it. The dogwood is still hanging on–who knows? Perhaps the Japanese maple protects it from prevailing winds?
And each of them is sitting on rock ledge in only about 4″of soil so the fact that either grows–and stands up at all–is amazing.
But as the maple is leafing out, I am seeing all sorts of bumblebees and small birds–goldfinch, pine siskins and other small finches and sparrows–in it, plucking at the flowers.
I don’t recall noticing this before. Of course, I have rarely had this much time to look out my windows!
It is a wonder what is so great about maple flowers. Bigleaf maples have bigger flowers, but one would think that finches would find something better to eat. The maples must make something special for them in exchange for pollination.
Maples are hugely popular with the wildlife out here. This tree is always the preferred nesting place for at least one pair of robins. And our sugar maples make the squirrels crazy. They gnaw off little twigs just to get to the sap (not a particularly endearing quality for us when we find all the twigs all over the driveway). The chipmunks then come along and eat the seeds from the little “helicopter” pods.
I just sneeze a lot when they’re in flower. It took me a while to realize that the trees I was allergic to were things like maple and oak, not the pretty dogwoods and crabapples. Same thing as people thinking they’re allergic to goldenrod, I guess.