Japanese maples with a side of garden

My wife complains (again) that the ‘Crimson Queen’ Japanese maple (Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Crimson Queen’, below) planted beside the driveway is a problem. I believe this is the fourth year she has brought this to my attention, but possibly it is the seventh or eighth. In fact, the maple is not only beside the drive, but also growing into it, which would not be so bad except that a magnolia and cypress encroach from the far side onto the driveway. My common sense approach to this problem is that it’s fortunate my wife and I have small cars that are easily navigated between the trees. I cannot imagine pruning the naturally graceful branches of this maple.

Crimson Queen and other maples obscure the house and partially obstruct the driveway.

Crimson Queen and other maples obscure the house and partially obstruct the driveway.

Long ago, it was presumed by some in this household that there was a problem with two ‘Seriyu’ maples (below) planted to the inside of the front walk, probably too close to the house, but that was considered when they were planted and no harm has come of it. For a short while (only a few years), lower branches of the maples hung over to block the front bluestone walk when it rained, and there were continued allegations of poor planning.

'Seriyu' maple has finely dissected green foliage. The tree grows to nearly twenty feet wide, and I can attest that it will grow even wider.

‘Seriyu’ maple has finely dissected green foliage. The tree grows to nearly twenty feet tall, and I can attest that it will grow even wider.

But, this too was calculated when the small trees were planted, and few people ever used the front walk anyway. Today, the ‘Seriyu’ maples form a canopy over the length of the walk, just as designed. Along with a large, red leafed ‘Bloodgood’ maple (below), they almost completely hide the front of the house. But, no matter that the house is quite attractive, and despite my wife’s opinion on the matter, I prefer seeing trees rather than structures.

Bloodgood Japanese maple is a common upright growing tree with dark foliage.

Bloodgood Japanese maple is a common upright growing tree with dark foliage.

After growth in the spring, some pruning must be done to drooping branches to keep the front walk open, but this is nothing to be bothered about. The ‘Seriyu’ planted at the corner of the garage now grows far over the driveway, and though you walk (and drive) under it, delivery trucks long ago abandoned thoughts of pulling down the drive. Thankfully, the driveway is short, so the FedEx man is not too put out, and in fact we recently had a pleasant conversation where he asked for my recommendations.

Shirazz (Gwen's Rose Delight) attract the most attention in sthe spring from visitors. it's variegation and red foliage fades in the heat of summer, but the two months of spring make it worthwhile.

Shirazz (Gwen’s Rose Delight) attract the most attention in the spring from visitors. it’s variegation and red foliage fades in the heat of summer, but the two months of spring make it worthwhile.

It should be no surprise to you that Japanese  maples have the run of the place. If a maple spreads to encroach on the stone paths, the path is moved. When a maple grows to cover a waterfall that was a marvelous focal point, well, this adds to the garden’s mystery. As you can see, it is necessary for the gardener to have his priorities in order, and here it is very clear where the maples stand. Dogwoods and redbuds are also given high priority, but a peg below the Japanese maples.

Butterfly has green and white variegated foliage. Until summer there is more cream colored foliage, but this changes to a mottled green and white.

Butterfly has green and white variegated foliage. Until summer there is more cream colored foliage, but this changes to a mottled green and white.

The question is occasionally posed, which maple is best, and this was the inquiry from the local delivery man. He was, of course, unaware that there are any more than a few types of Japanese maple besides the weeping red ones. This is typical, I suppose, of many casual gardeners who are unaware of any but the most common. When I tell the dear FedEx man that there are twenty-five thousand named varieties of Japanese maple (or more), and he is standing under one (with another over there, and over there, and …..), then the conversation must end because there are deliveries to get to before this old windbag gets going.

There are several Linerilobum maples in the garden. These are uprights with deeply cut foliage.

There are several Japanese maples with deeply cut leaves in the garden. Scolopendrifolium atropurpureum is upright in form and it retains its color through the summer. There are several Linearilobum maples with similar foliage, a few that are even more deeply divided.

As I consider the inventory of maples in the garden (an actual count is never taken, so I only suppose there are twenty-four cultivars and thirty, or thirty-some maples in the garden), it is quickly obvious that there are more green leafed maples and fewer with pendulous branching. There are red leaves, and green, yellow, and several that are variegated with shades of cream, green, and occasionally pink.

Scolopendrifolium Japanese maple has green, deeply divided leaves.

Scolopendrifolium Japanese maple has green, deeply divided leaves.

As with many things in my life, I have an imprecise recollection of the garden two decades earlier, but the size of a handful of trees indicates that these Japanese maples were planted in the garden’s early days. ‘Bloodgood’ and ‘Burgundy Lace’ stand twenty feet tall and spread at least as wide. The ‘Crimson Queen’ and the green leafed weeper ‘Viridis’ (below) spread at least ten feet, and visitors are shocked and concerned that the lone Japanese maple in their garden will spread to obstruct their front walk. Probably, it will.

Viridis covers much of one of the garden's ponds and a portion of this patio.

Viridis covers much of one of the garden’s ponds and a portion of this patio.

The Golden Full Moon maple grows slowly in partial sun. It is recommended that it be given more shade, but I've had few problems with foliage in more sun.

The Golden Full Moon maple grows slowly in partial sun. It is recommended that it be given more shade, but I’ve had few problems with foliage in more sun.

Skeeter's Broom is a witches broom of Bloodgood maple. It retains  its red color through the summer better than many other maples.

Skeeter’s Broom is a witches broom of Bloodgood maple. It retains its red color through the summer better than many other maples.

The Fernleaf Japanese maple has larger leaves than typical. Aututumn foliage color is unsurpassed.

The Fernleaf Japanese maple has larger leaves than typical. Its autumn foliage color is unsurpassed.

I waited years to find a suitable Floating Cloud maple ('Ukigumo'), but now there are three.

I waited years to find a suitable Floating Cloud maple (‘Ukigumo’), but now there are three.

 

 

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16 thoughts on “Japanese maples with a side of garden

  1. These are outstanding and I’m happy to know the gardener has his priorities in good order . Trees are nearly always more interesting than structures . The driveway is surely wide enough to accommodate such gracious ornamentation. It takes tremendous planning and imagination to plan for growth when planting a tiny little tree , after all . … 😊

      • We all make a mistake or two along the way as our garden develops. Our gardens are always evolving, as are the gardeners! BTW- I can’t begin to tell you how much pleasure my elderly father finds each time I take him to visit GBGH . He happily sits on a bench and admires everything while I shop. This past week he absolutely fell in love with those huge hanging baskets filled with Euphorbia, Petunias, and sweet potato vines- to the point of purchasing one, and then spending the afternoon photographing it hanging in his garden. Thank you for keeping such a marvelous place humming along 😉

  2. you have such a lovely collection of maples !!!! have you considered to cut a few of the lower branches ? with a bit of a visible stem this tree would be still beautiful !

    • I don’t believe that I can bear to prune it. For better or worse, the only pruning in this garden is by my wife pruning to keep the paths open. Though she says that one day she’ll prune the maple, it’s a bit too much for her.

  3. Boy Dave, It might look better all around if you trimmed up the lower branches before they completely take over your house and walkway to say nothing of your drive little cars or not..You might be surprised at how much nicer it would look, and still do the job you intend it to be.

  4. This blog was a God-send for me. I have been scouring the web for several weeks now looking for someone who could at the very least give me some reliable info on Japanese maples, but what I’ve found here is so much more. First, let me say that I am blown away by all your plants/trees/knowledge, Dave. I’m a college student right now, but having a place like yours where I can plant and grow all sorts of things is a dream of mine. I have been very fascinated by trees for quite some time now, but my love has really grown the past few years. Sorry about my rambling, but I just wanted to say all that. My first question is could you recommend any Japanese Maples that are medium to fast growing and have a curvy/twisted form? I’m obsessed with Live Oaks and their curvy/twisted form so that’s why I’m looking for a Japanese maple that is similar in form. Sorry for the blabbering guys, have a great day and please feel free to comment!

    • I will always regret not planting ‘Garnet’ (Acer palmatum ‘Garnet’) when it was more readily available ten or fifteen years ago. It grows upright to about ten feet with branches that are slightly pendulous so that the tree has an open, but graceful form. When you mentioned the Live oak, this immediately came to mind. Because it does not have the classic weeping form I rarely see ‘Garnet’ grown by large maple growers any longer, but I would guess that it is available through mail order suppliers in smaller sizes. I find that Japanese maples, except for the few that are true dwarfs, grow much more quickly than people expect.

    • Many green leafed Japanese maples will display yellow foliage in autumn, and a few orange. My favorite maple for autumn foliage color is the fern leaf maple (Acer japonicum ‘Aconitfolium’) with red, and yellow (and orange?) mottled foliage.

      • Thank you, Dave. I just looked the fern leaf maple up, and I have to agree. It is definitely my favorite for fall color up to this point.

  5. Quick question, should I feel pretty confident in receiving the correct trees through the mail? Or would actually going to a nursery be better? I would assume the latter, but I’m having a little difficulty finding a Japanese maple nursery near East Tennessee.

    • It will be difficult to find a garden center that would have much selection in Japanese maples. Most Japanese maple growers do the basics because this is what they sell in quantities so they can earn a profit. I’ve seen several mail order Japanese maple growers that I think would be trustworthy to supply trees that are true to their label, though the trees will be small to be shipped efficiently.

      • If you are comfortable in doing so, would you mind referring me to a few mail order Japanese maple growers? I am having a rather difficult time finding them myself.

      • I see advertising in garden magazines for Essence of the Tree (essenceofthetree.com). They offer a comprehensive list of maples. There is a Japanese maple mail order nursery about thirty miles from me Eastwoods Nursery (japanesemaples.com) in Washington VA that I’d like to visit. There is one maple that I’m looking for, a yellow twigged maple ‘Bihou’, and if all else fails I’ll be tempted to purchase it through mail order. I have not dealt with these growers, but maples are relatively easy, and from their excellent website information I trust they care to get the right plants.

      • I actually ran across the Eastwoods Nursery website a few weeks ago, and I emailed them like their website prompted, but they never got back to me. However, I would still really like to go, because I thought they had a very good website also.

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