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Japanese Maples Print E-mail

There are so many different forms of Japanese Maples, one for almost any situation. They are mostly understory trees or shrubs so they are easy to work into even the smallest gardens. Being tough and adaptable also makes them an indispensible plant.


                                                         Our espalier of Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku'



                   Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku' in fall color!

We enjoy our maples every day of the year. In the winter Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku' is a standout for it's red twigs that glow all winter. Acer griseum, which has a common name of paperbark maple, has outstanding cinnamon colored bark that is attractive all year but particularly so in the winter. We have an Acer griseum planted outside an east facing window so every morning we can enjoy the sunlight playing off the flakes of bark which exfoliate from the main trunk. 


                   Acer griseum - Paperbark Maple


                                                   Tylers_PaperbackSM                                                Old Specimen at the Tyler Arboretum

In the spring there are a number of Acer palmatums that are at their best. One of our favorites, in the early spring, is Acer palmatum 'Shindeshojo', this variety has fabulous brillant red new growth. Every day we walk our dog to the lower field and over to our neighbors pond, when we look back at the nursery(even from this long distance) the three plants of Ap 'Shindeshojo' in the different areas of the display garden seem to be aglow. At this early time of spring the red new growth is outstanding surrounded by all the various shades of spring green. Another special variety early is Acer palmatum 'Katsura' which has a unique new growth color of golden orange, this variety grows to a small tree of twelve feet. Many of the variegated forms of Japanese Maple are also at their best in the spring season.

As summer arrives we look to the special shaped forms. A favorite for it's low spreading growth habit is Acer palmatum 'Kiyohime yatsubusa', this variety which we have growing down on our hosta island is knee high with a spread of over six feet, customers are amazed that this is actually a maple. Another small variety is Acer palmatum 'Oregon Sunset', we have a  twenty five year old plant that is three feet high and six feet wide. Ap 'Oregon Sunset' features normal sized red foliage.  Acer palmatum 'Koto no ito' has thread-like green foliage quite a novelty. The texture of this variety is incredible.


Garden Scene at O'Brien's with four Japanese Maples sporting fall color.

Fall maybe the season when the Japanese Maples are at their best. We are amazed how long the fall color season can last, with different varieties developing their fall color at various times. Our favorite for fall color is Acer japonicum 'Acontifolium' and it's siblings. Acer japonicums are all green foliaged forms of maple that have outstanding fall foliage. Many years ago we designed a Full Moon Maple into a planting job, the customer questioned why she would want a green maple in her plantings. We reassured her that this maple would add a great texture as well as fabulous fall color. Each of the next few years she called to thank us for our insistence to use this maple because she loves the fall color.