June 18 2021
“The happiest man is one who learns from nature the lessons of worship.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The earliest written use of the term ‘Mother Nature’ is in Mycenaean Greek in the 13th or 14th century BC. In their term ‘Mother Gaia’ meaning earth, they saw everything in the world as singular. No separation between themselves and the world. The very word ‘nature’ comes from the Latin natura, meaning innate or literally birth. From the earth every living thing is born. Even us. What if human nature is just one more facet of Mother Nature? Maybe, just maybe, my limestone bench cut by human hands and hauled by me hundreds of miles from where they were formed in Kansas are not much different from Montana erratic (moved from it’s place of origin) granite boulders carved by ice and carried hundreds of miles to Oregon by icebergs in the escaping waters of glacial Lake Missoula. If intelligent design (ours) is the only difference, isn’t that intelligence natural, too? Oh dear, there goes my wandering mind again.
But worship nature I do, as should we all. I’ll hug trees, but I’ll also chop them down to build a house. I love our native cottonwoods, aspens, pines and spruces, but I will just a readily plant something from anywhere if it will survive in my gardens. Tatarian Maple (Acer tartaricum) is a very fine example-not to be confused with Amur Maple (Acer ginnala) which is from a very different part of the world with more acidic soils. Tatarian maple, as the name implies (the word Tatary is an old word for Turkestan-you know, all those Stan countries of Western Asia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan) an area with much more alkaline soils. Thus, they don’t suffer so much from chlorosis, a yellowing of leaves caused by high pH.
‘Hot Wings’ Maple is the cultivar commonly sold and it is gorgeous. It’s winged seed pods, called samaras, are brilliant red and they hang on the tree for many weeks in the summer. It also has yellow to orange red fall color, is drought tolerant, and a relatively small tree good for smaller yards.
Just think, this chance seedling from trees brought to the US in the early 1900’s from Asia, grown in a nursery in Colorado, one among thousands, chosen by Plant Select, that you can now buy just about anywhere. I, for one, am heartily pleased by human ingenuity. One erratic Kansas limestone bench and one Asian tree, all together now. Many thanks to Mother Nature.
‘Hot Wings” Tatarian Maple, Acer tataricum, zone 4-10, 15-18’ tall and wide