For the past week, days have been sunny and the evenings have been cool, creating ideal conditions to produce the vivid pigmentation found in sugar maples (Acer saccharum). The tree known for producing maple syrup, thrives in the cool, moist summers of the northeastern United States but sugar maples also grow in Virginia. We planted two sugar maple trees a dozen years ago and they both have done exceedingly well right here in the hot, humid summers of Tidewater.
One was planted near the river and although said to be sodium intolerant, has endured salt spray from annual storms. Thankfully, neither of the trees has shown signs of trauma from the past summer’s drought and prolonged heat wave.
It’s in the fall of the year that our sugar maples become the focal point of our landscape. When the morning sun rises over the river and collides with the florescent reds, oranges and lemon yellows, all on a single tree, you hold your breath for a minute, then run for your camera. We have to hurry if we want to capture the tree and its leaves in a photograph for the peak of color seems to last only about 3 days before beginning to wane. For me, the sugar maple, like the ginkgo, is a tree that holds a cherished place in my heart.
Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester