The rest of ’em

A week of warm temperatures has brought the last of the Japanese maples into full, glorious leaf. Decades after planting many of them, I still marvel at the brilliant spring colors. Several have interesting flowers or seeds, but Japanese maples are about the foliage.

As we visit this later leafing group of maples, I must mention there are another handful with nondescript, plain-old green leaves. These have some form that substantiates their inclusion in the garden to the idiot who runs this place, even if they don’t make the photo page. ‘Tattoo’ appears little different from ‘Mikawa yatsubusa’ with minor foliage differences and a slightly more dwarf form. Photos of it will not appear below.

The Golden Full Moon Japanese maple (Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’, above) was salvaged from an Oregon nursery years ago with severe rabbit damage to the trunk that has long since healed over. I waited a decade searching for a Golden Full Moon to fill this partially shaded spot by the summerhouse, so taking a chance on this discounted tree was a no-brainer. It’s now over ten feet in height, a substantial presence that shines with its bright, newly emerged leaves. The color fades some in the summer heat, but it is still distinctively yellow.

Not all Japanese maples are beloved. The cream edged leaves of ‘Gwen’s Rose Delight’ (trademarked as Shirazz, above) fade badly in summer, and while other maples fade gracefully, ‘Gwen’ is probably better suited to a shadier spot out of the afternoon sun.

My greatest disappointment in the garden is the Floating Cloud maple (Acer palmatum ‘Ukigumo’, above). Long ago, I stopped looking at glorious photos of pink and cream variegated leaves of this beautiful maple in the cooler climate of Oregon. With higher humidity that brings warmer nights, the Floating Cloud’s foliage never achieves this splendid color in our area, and then this fades by late spring. Perhaps there is some better spot in the garden, but I’ve moved two around to varying degrees of shade without a noticeable benefit. So, while I try to blot out the memory of rows of beautiful maples in a long closed Oregon nursery , I’ll always think regretfully of what might have been.

‘Oshio beni’ is similar to the ‘Bloodgood’ in the front garden, but its slightly faded summer color is distinctive.

The newly planted ‘Hubb’s Red Willow’ was damaged by a late freeze several years ago just as it began to leaf. It leafed sparsely for a few years, but now it’s growing vigorously at the edge of the koi pond. It is not much different in appearance from the red leafed Scolopendrifolium maple, but I love the dissected leaves.

The green leafed ‘Scolopendrifolium’ has become more open in branching in a shaded spot, but perhaps it is now more graceful.

The red leafed linearlobum type Japanese maple ‘Scolopendrifolium atropurpureum’ has become too shaded, so the color has faded from years ago. Still, its finely divided leaves are a graceful presence overhanging a pond in the rear garden.

This, and another unknown red leafed, weeping Japanese maple is probably ‘Crimson Queen’, the predominant maple grown thirty years ago. Thirty years ago this maple had grown too close to partially obstruct the front walk. It had to move, but I became lazy while digging to transplant it, so I grabbed a strap, hooked it to the car and jerked it out of the ground. It didn’t suffer for a moment.

‘Peve Starfish’ has unusual curled leaves, somewhat like ‘Trompenberg’, but growing smaller and with a distinctive leaf shape. The young tree will be a welcome addition to the garden once it gains a bit more size.

‘Shaina’ is a dwarf, but a larger one was chopped out after suffering consecutive years of freeze damage. I had to have another, so a tall, thin tree was purchased that should soon grow into the wide, shrub-like tree. Several fillers have been planted to fill the space it will grow into, so these will be moved as ‘Shaina’ grows wider.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. lookingforthegulch says:

    Dave, Any tips if there are any nice Japanese maples that work in zone 8-9 (FL panhandle) ??? 😊

    1. Dave says:

      Many Japanese maples will grow in the south, but all must be shaded in the afternoon. Green leafed maples will be the best, with red leafed maples requiring more shade.

      1. Gail says:


  2. The English Gardener says:

    Beautiful! I look forward to your annual posts on your collection of Japanese maples. Appears that this year you have added some that I had not heard you mention previously.
    My small group of 22 are magnificent this year! As always my favorite are the greens.

    1. Dave says:

      A few maples are new, but I’m afraid I’ve really run out of room now, so probably no more to come. I suppose my favorite Japanese maple is the Golden Full Moon since I waited so long to find one. The Floating Cloud would be a close second if it showed the color it does on the west coast.

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