Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Senior Horticultural Interpreter.
The recent, hard frosts may have shortened this year’s fall foliage display out on the grounds, but inside the T. H. Everett Alpine House, our little Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Dissectum‘) is putting on a splendid show.
Rooted into the gravel-covered bench, it has lived there happily for many years, spreading over the eastern end of the greenhouse and providing cover for the shade-loving plants placed under it.
Maple trees, as well as alpine plants, require cool conditions to trigger winter dormancy, and although this greenhouse is kept above freezing, the temperature is allowed to drop to only a few degrees above 32˚F. Consequently, the maple and all its tiny neighbors are able to complete their natural cycle but protected from the fiercest of the weather.