Too many, or not enough

My wife tells me that this garden is full, with some good reason though there are small open spaces to be plugged wherever I look. The larger picture overflows with trees and shrubs planted over thirty one years, and she demands that any more planting will have to spill over onto the neighbor’s property. Long ago she prohibited removal of any more lawn in a manner that suggested she wasn’t kidding around. Today, the lawn is a fraction of the acre of grass that we started with three decades ago, and while I’m not a particularly good listener, there’s a time not to push things too far. This is one, though there are circumstances that dictate that a few inches of lawn are shaved off here and there.

Orange Dream waits in a container on the patio beside the koi pond. In another year it will be large enough to plant out into a spot in the garden if something opens up.

When the small greenhouse was added last year this added a small area for planting, and for this I didn’t hear a word, at least none too harsh. But, I haven’t the courage to carve out areas for Japanese maples that are now sitting in containers on the patios, or for other maples that I’d add in a moment if I could cut out more lawn in good sunny spots. I have little need for grass, and an urge for more plants.

Of course, the Japanese maples already here take up more space every year. Lower limbs of a maple with pendulous branching along the driveway were pruned in late winter to save space, but another green leaved weeping maple (Acer palmatum dissecctum ‘Viridis’, above and below) in the back is now nearly fifteen feet across. Most of the Japanese maples in the garden grow more upright, so they’re easily planted under, though the area of shade spreads annually.

Just behind the Viridis Japanese maple is one of two Lion’s Head maples (Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’).

Early spring is the peak, when colors of Japanese maples are most vivid. And while flowers of maples are small and not highly ornamental, I am captivated by the dangling blooms and newly emerging foliage.

Newly emerged leaves of Shirazz (Gwen’s Rose Delight) are splendid, but in nearly full sun the leaves fade badly by early summer.
The Lion’s Head Japanese maple is unremarkable, even if it’s autumn foliage color is not spectacular, but with dense foliage and an upright vase shape it is a favorite above others with more outstanding attributes.

Twombly’s Red Sentinel Japanese maple is not a tight columnar tree, but it’s narrow shape allowed it to be planted where a wider spreading maple would not work.
Butterfly maple is a slow grower.
The Fernleaf Japanese maple is another favorite with prominent spring flowers and outstanding autumn foliage color.

20 Comments Add yours

  1. Carole Cambria Gertel says:

    Love all the pics of your various plantings…do you have to mulch yearly?

    1. Dave says:

      I mulch a new planting area with bark chunks because they don’t decay so quickly, and then I never mulch again. I shred leaves that fall or leave them whole in many shaded areas, so there’s some mulching, but other areas are covered with plants so there’s no open ground. Instead of spending money on mulch, I prefer to buy more plants.

  2. Lauren says:

    Love Japanese maples- and your blog helped ramp that love to eleven. We have plenty, but after deer killed a young one planted out front this season we’re restricting most of them to the backyard now…

    1. Dave says:

      This is a fraction of the Japanese maples in the garden, so clearly they’re my favorite. Last autumn, I finally took an inventory to keep the varieties straight, so I could have a reference for ones I forget.There are twenty some varieties and a few more than thirty total with several duplicates.

  3. peggyjoan42 says:

    Such a beautiful garden – a wonderful place to relax and enjoy nature. Maple trees are my favorite.

    1. Dave says:

      When we bought this place 31 years ago I opted for the lot with the short front yard and deep rear, so the garden out back is mature and secluded, and a great place to get away in evenings after work.

      1. peggyjoan42 says:

        Sounds wonderful – my husband and I have a yard like that and it is so peaceful.

  4. The English Gardener says:

    Dave .
    Thank you again for your spring display of favorite Japanese Maples. I look forward to this each year!
    I am now up to 20 and seeking more each year if I can. The green weeping like Viridis are my favorite but more difficult to find.

    1. Dave says:

      When I do a rough inventory in my head I count more green, yellow and variegated leafed maples than red. I think the count is actually nearly even, but the red ones blend together and for whatever reason I favor the others.

  5. Linus says:

    What is the “ground cover” next to the Viridis Japanese maple?

    1. Dave says:

      This is some type of ivy, maybe even plain old English ivy in this spot, that is being crowded out by Ostrich ferns.

      1. Dave says:

        And, upon a second look, I think there’s some variegated vinca minor at the corner. There are several areas of variegated vinca that long ago I transplanted as sports from areas that are solid green.

  6. tonytomeo says:

    But, why on earth does one need so much? Clients who came to select their orders directly from the farm often commented on how nice it must be to work with so much of what we grow. It really is great to grow it. However, we do not enjoy it like we hope it will get enjoyed when it goes to their clients gardens. There are hundreds of whatever it is they are referring to, over many acres. I find it easier to enjoy one well blooming camellia in a nice home garden than it is to enjoy hundreds of the same.

  7. I’m with you on this Dave! I’m an acer grower and, although our garden is of an average size of less than an acre, I have planted 30 varieties of the 45 I presently grow. Im really looking forward to watching them grow over the years!!

    1. Dave says:

      Many of the Japanese maples in this garden are twenty years and older, so it is interesting to see the mature form compared to small maples in garden centers. Mostly by accident, few of the maples are too shaded or too close to other trees.

      1. I’m looking forward to seeing our trees grow into mature specimens – Acers are more resilient than people think – after all, they adapt to the art of bonsai very well. Here at The Olde Pitting Shed, we grow Acers from young grafted saplings to more mature specimens and they grow very well in pots for many years…

      2. Dave says:

        I overuse the term for foolproof plants, but Japanese maples grow like weeds. I have lost a few over the years to excessively wet soils, but none otherwise.

      3. I could never relate Japanese maples yo weeds haha… but I get what you mean – soggy, wet souls are a definite no no but otherwise they are not too demanfing

      4. Linus says:

        JM foolproof? What do you do to prevent verticillium?

      5. Dave says:

        I have never concerned myself with diseases or pests, except deer. I don’t spray anything, and perhaps it’s good fortune, but I rarely have any more than minor infestations, and rarely disease issues except two years ago when the lower garden become an eighteen month long swamp.

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