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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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 . … 😊
I admit to a mistake or two in planting the garden, but few become much of an issue.
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 😉
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.
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.
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.
Thanks so much, Dave. Any recommendations for a Japanese maple with orange or yellow fall color?
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.
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.
Update on Eastwoods maple tree farm in Washington VA: I went there for the first time, on the suggestion of my hard scape designer, and I was very disappointed that the owners were experiencing a major outbreak of aphids on all of their trees, even the ones in the greenhouses. I walked away without buying a single one. The owners were very honest and pointed the aphids out to me; I had no idea that aphids could affect Japanese maples. I empathized with the owners ; they said they were really battling the aphids infestation with little success. This was in 2020, and I hope they resolved the problem by now, because I would like to go back there. I have since bought Japanese maples from Ivandale Farm in Hamilton. I have found their trees to be very healthy. So far my Fernleaf, Osakazuki, Crimsom Queens, and Ukigumo are thriving. My Koto no Ito, however, had too much damage from the cicadas and may not make it. Ivandale will replace that one, thankfully.
Dave, I just saw a bihou available today from Mrmaple.com 10/25/22 – if you haven’t gotten on already haha – I was reading this blog hoping to find more info on Golden Full moon – I have two emporer 1s just planted and need a contrasting JM – any more leads from local nurseries in nova area to find something unique? Thanks love your blog and videos!! 🙂
I kept a small Bihou in a pot on the patio for a few years before planting it this spring. I look forward to much more growth next spring. It is difficult to find larger Japanese maples outside the standards. Mr. Maple is a good source with reasonable prices if you have the patience to let them grow. Spring will always be the better time to buy in local garden centers.
You must be excited about the bihou, and able to enjoy the beautiful yellow bark in the winter. Appreciate the JM tips!
I recall my impatience when Ukigumo and Golden Full Moon maples were scrawny six footers. Now they tower overhead. I hope to see the day when Bihou and a few others reach this size.