Posts Tagged ‘Japanese Maples’

Acer palmatum “Sango Kaku”

I wanted a nice tree to walk in under as we came up to our front porch. I didn’t have the room to plant a big tree so I planted a smaller one that gets maybe 25-30 feet tall – big enough for my purposes for sure. In the following pictures I’ll show you how it’s grown so well over the last few years. It was small when we got it and I had to pick one that would allow me to train it so that it wouldn’t block the paths and stairs around it. I did a lot of work to accomplish that, including at one point tying it up so that it was straight, more or less. I dunno if that was really necessary but it worked and now it’s full and big and does the job I wanted it to do. See for yourself!

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April 2010 – shortly after planting

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October 2010 – with some nice fall color

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May 2011 – after a year’s growth

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August 2011 – getting a bit sprawly

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January 2012 – in a little bit of snow – why’s it leaning?

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August 2012 – much fuller now – getting big

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May 2013- nice spring growth

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November 2013 – bare after leaf drop. See how skinny it is?

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May 2014  – lots of growth!

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November 2014 – Fall color – see how the tips are going last? Last to grow – last to turn…

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July 2015 – still skinny

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October 2015 – gentle fall color – it gets brighter!

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March 2016 – just starting to grow – see how red the new growth is?

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April 2016 – in the rain – makes it look huge and cool-looking!

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June 2016 – today – big enough to be a real tree to walk under now – finally!

It’s a bit hard to believe that this tree grew from a few sticks in 2010 to this 20 ft tree in about 7 years of growth. It’s still growing as I write this so I know it’ll get even bigger this year -and it’s still a baby in tree years. I did manage to accomplish my goal of keeping it very narrow so that we can walk up the stairs and into the garden without hitting our heads on the branches.

It’ll get a lot wider and still another 10 feet of of height perhaps and pictures I’ve seen of big ones make me kind of shudder – it’s going to be a big tree here, despite it’s being classified as a “small tree” in my books. It doesn’t get quite as big as the straight species which will get over 40 feet – even 50 for a really big, old one.

This one will do for us. It’s also known as the Coral Bark Maple for the bright red stems it puts on when they first come out. It’s supposed to resemble a tower of sea corral in Japanese, thus the name – “Sango Kaku”. Its lovely in winter, especially with a bit of snow on the ground around it. As they age the limbs turn an undistinguished brown but I still like it fine.

It’s pretty common in nurseries and even the big box stores (where I got mine! – eek!), so if you like this you’ll probably be able to find it somewhere in your area, depending on where you live of course. But common doesn’t mean it’s not great ya know – just that a lot of us like it… 🙂

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip thru memory lane with this wonderful tree. I only had a couple of good shots of the really excellent fall colors it turns – from the yellow I did show to a striking reddish orange that you can see from up the street. It’s a beautiful tree and I’m happy to have it to walk in under when I come home. Maybe you could do this too…

Rising from the sea…

Steve

9 Fine Maples

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I have a small garden. So I have to be selective in my choosing of plants. One plant I truly love is the Japanese Maple. It comes in several hundred cultivars and varieties and I have only 9 of them, but I love them all. They’re all unique and none is similar to the others, tho all are Acer palmatums. This first one is a Bloodgood and is considered one of the finest full size Red maples there is. It’s been in cultivation for a long time but it still has admirers. The botanical name is Acer palmatum atropurpureum Bloodgood.

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This one is a dwarf and only gets to 4-6 feet tall. It’ll stay in this pot for as many years as I can keep it there. Its called a Goshiki Kotohime, which means Variegated Old Harp. It’s a choice little plant and has several colors in the leaves, thus the name Goshiki, which means 5-colored. The Kotohime means Old Harp, or Koto as most folks know it. A lovely small tree.

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This is the first Japanese maple I ever bought for my folks back in the early 70’s ( boy does that date me, eh?). It’s called Kagiri Nishiki, or Roseo Marginatum, which is the name I first learned it by. Its unique in that all the leaves are different and are sickle shaped with beautiful variegation in them, from creamy white to a cool bluish green. It’ll get to about 15 ft tall and wide.

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This is another small form that only gets about 8 ft tall and 4-6 wide. It’s considered the best red dissectum there is. It’s called a Red Dragon, as the leaves apparently resemble a dragon’s claws. Very slow growing. I’ve had it for years and it hasn’t grown hardly at all. Oh well, I still love it…

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Here’s another red one ( I seem to like colors don’t I?). It’s a Red Pygmy and gets up to maybe 15 ft in time tho it’s only about 7′ now. It has deeply cut leaves that make it look almost like a weeping willow when it leafs out. It turns a luscious golden yellow in the fall. It’s grown fast  so far. Beautiful!

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This is a well know maple – the Coral Bark or Sango Kaku maple. So called because the red stems look like towers of sea collar rising out of the ocean. It’s a full size one that will get to 25 or 30 ft tall in time. It turns a deep gold with reddish tints in the fall.

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This is my newest acquisition. It’s called Shiraz and has incredible variegation in the leaves of a light red darkening to a darker red on the margins. It’s supposed to stay this way for awhile but I just planted it this spring so I don’t know what will happen next. I expect great things from it.

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This one has confused me all along. It never has grown more than a few inches each year, and tho it’s gotten much fuller it’s still very small and looks like it’ll be a shrub forever. It’s a lovely form called Ukigumo, or the Floating Cloud Maple. It’s supposed to look like clouds in the sky, and it does against a darker background, which I don’t have. Turns lovely shades of pink in the fall. Behind it is a large Blue Peter Rhodie that has been here for 30 some years. A nice background for this picture…

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This is the last one I have. It’s another dissectum called Waterfall. It turns a spectacular golden yellow orange in the fall and is supposed to get to 10 ft tall and 12 ft wide!! Wow! Another time of not reading about the full size till I got home. It’s growing a foot or more a year and I have to prune most of it off because it’s in the wrong place. It’s a beautiful plant still. I’ll get it to fit, just wait…

So that’s the tour. I decided to keep it to mostly pictures this time since I wrote so much last time. I try to balance things out  some… I’m glad you could come along on this walk. More pretty pictures to come. 🙂

Thanks for visiting,

Steve

Maples in the Sun

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We’ve been lucky to get some sunshine lately and I happened to be out in the back yard the other day when I saw this shot. So I went in and grabbed my camera and took a few photos. (You can click on them to get a larger size shot). I was struck by how beautiful the Japanese Maples look in this picture. From the left is a small dark red one called Red Dragon. It’s a Dissectum type maple and is supposed to be “the best red dissectum”. I’m leery of superlatives but I will say it’s quite beautiful tho it hasn’t grown much in the 4 years it’s been here. But I like it just fine as it stays this dark red all summer long.

The one in the middle is called Red Pygmy and is a Linearlobum type maple. It has strap like leaves that are deeply cut, almost like a dissectum but not as much so. This tree looks almost bronzy golden in the sun but its leaves are actually a light burgundy and look lovely. This tree has grown immensely from a small stick to over 6 feet by 7 or 8 wide. It turns a spectacular golden in the fall.

The third one on the right is a classic Palmatum type of maple called the Bloodgood. It’s an Old standard that has been in cultivation in this country since the Civil War and is named for the Bloodgood Nursery on Long Island in the late 1700’s. It gets to 20 feet tall as opposed to 10′ for the Red Pygmy so it’ll get larger here and fill the space it has to grow into fine.

You can see several other plants in this shot. On the far right is a newish favorite of mine from just a year ago. In that time it’s grown 4 feet and is amazing. It’s a Cryptomeria called Radicans. I have several of the Cryptomerias and I love them all. All are unique and interesting. On the far left is a spreading yew, or Taxus repandens. It’s grown quite a lot in its years here and is a low dark green presence at the corner of the yard. Next to it on the right is a Wintercreeper called Gaiety, or Eunoymus fortunei. It’s trying to grow up the Plum but I’m not letting it do so.

To the left of the Plum is a Manzanita called Howard McMinn that shows off its reddish bark for you tho it’s a bit hard to see. I’ll do a full shot of it soon and show a bit more of it. In the center of this shot is a Leucothoe fontanesiana called Rainbow that turns lovely purples and reds in the fall, tho not as much as I expected. I love the fountain like display it puts on. It loves the water it gets when we clean the fountain too.

 

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In this next shot of the garden a few steps closer, you can see the maples better and also the Blue Star juniper in the middle of the front row. Next to it is a Mugho Pine called Pumilio. It’s done well so far but not gotten too big which is fine with me. It holds down the corner of the garden there near the path. I should mention the two big trees you can see as trunks are an Italian Plum on the left that feeds many of the food bank folks we give the plums to. We like to eat them too but we get so many it’s good we can share them with others. The other tree trunk is a Queen Anne cherry that gives a lot of fruit to the birds but we rarely get any of them. Oh well, it’s a lovely tree and gives some shade to the otherwise open garden.

 

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This is the closest picture of the garden and in it you can see the Heather blooming in the left of the shot, and next to it is another Cryptomeria called Elegans, for its elegant look and soft quality of its leaves. I’ve profiled it before and it’s one of my “Petable” trees. It’s grown from about 1 foot and 1/2 to over 9 feet in 5 years. Wow! I’m impressed. Also here are on the right side you can see the Variegated Sea Holly with its purple cast of blooms near the white picket fence. It’s the most bee friendly plant I have in that it attracts several varieties of bees and is covered in them at times in the sun. What spectacular sights to see and it holds its color for several months quite nicely. Also in the middle of the shot is the Coast Redwood I profiled a week ago – the Kelly’s Prostrate. It’s just to the left of the Red Dragon maple in front of the Heather.

So that’s the pictures of the garden in the sun. It’s so lovely when it shines thru things like it does now. I like how it illuminates them from behind like this. I was lucky to catch it when I did as we haven’t had much sun since this happened a couple of days ago. It’s still been in the 90’s tho, which is very hot for us here in Seattle. We’re melting…. 🙂

Japanese Maples rock!

Steve

 

A Fine Day for Pruning

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I’ve been itching to get my shears out and prune these Japanese Maples for some time now. There’s some controversy about just when is the “proper” time to prune these delicate creatures. I tend to follow the advice of Cass Turnbull, of Plant Amnesty, a Master Pruner here in Seattle. She says the best time is basically “when the shears are sharp”.

In other words you prune them when you’re ready to do it. You have to be in the right frame of mind to do these trees. They can be messed up so easily if you make the wrong cuts. I have spent literally hours gazing at these two trees to determine just which branches to cut and why. My goal is to prune so that you can’t tell that I’ve even done it.

I suppose you’re wondering why I put  up these two shots. After all you can’t tell anything can you? I sure hope not. If you can tell I’ve just pruned a couple of buckets of branches off the two of them then I’ve done a poor job. If you could see them up close you’d see a scar or two of course but otherwise I think you can’t tell.

We were lucky to have a perfect day today for this work. It’s been sunny and warmish, for Seattle anyway, with no rain, another rare occurrence just lately. And I just felt good about it today. I was in the right frame of mind and felt prepared to do it and suffer the consequences if I screwed up. But I don’t think I did. They look just like I had in mind for them to look when I was done.

I pruned several other things in the yard but the prostrate rosemary that half froze to death isn’t that pretty right now and the Pfitzer Juniper didn’t fit my theme of maples so I’m not showing those. I did a bunch of other chores around the yard since it was so nice out and I was in the mood. I’ve really been wanting to do some gardening and it’s just been too wet recently so I’ve put it off.

So today when I got home from an appointment I put on my pruning gear and got myself prepared. I sharpened my shears and got out the buckets and bins to put the prunings in. I spent an little time just looking at the trees again to make sure I was ready for this and I got out the tall pruning ladder so I could get at the top of the bigger one and off I went.

The top shot is of a Japanese Maple, or Acer palmatum, called Sangokaku or Coral Bark Maple, for its reddish new bark. It means Pillar of Coral in Japanese, or Sea Corral to be precise since that’s what it supposedly reminds folks of there. It gets about 25 or 30 feet tall and grows in this vase shape tho I’ve emphasized it and made it tighter since it’s between two paths and we need to be able to walk under it.

The other one is an Acer palmatum dissectum called “Waterfall” we just got about a year ago. It was pretty low to the ground when we first got it and I had to prune quite a bit last year. Over the past growing season it put on a lot of growth and so I had to do some more work on it today to keep it off the Rhodie in front of it and keep it in good shape. It may get to 10 feet tall they say and as wide. I’ll have more pruning to do in time.

I have 4 other Japanese maples in this garden and the rest of them don’t really take any pruning to speak of yet. They’re growing very slowly, except for one I’ll profile soon, and just can’t handle any loss of limbs. I’m waiting for them to gain some size first before I attempt to prune them much and some of them will probably never need much pruning. I’ll get to them when it’s time.

I have pruned them a bit tho and you can’t tell at all that I’ve even touched them it’s so subtle. That’s the way I approach most of my pruning. I’ll try to be as subtle as I can so you can’t tell what I’ve done. It’s like how when you clean a house it just looks right when you’re done, you can’t tell you cleaned it actually and done any work. Good pruning can be like that. You can’t see it.

I was taught to prune by a few talented people in my youth and one of them gave me a motto I love. He said he did “Aesthetic and Therapeutic Pruning”, a phrase I’ve used ever since. This practice means that you take into account the nature of the plant you’re working on and allow it to be itself as much as possible, with minor adjustments to keep it in shape and healthy as well as beautiful. It’s a great way to think about it.

I don’t believe in topping plants if there’s any other way to prune them. But sometimes it’s necessary. I almost lost a big Viburnum rhytidophyllum a year or so ago and thought it was going to die so I topped it way back and tied it up and in a few months it started to grow again and is a gorgeous shrub that looks grand now. You can see where I cut it still but that will disappear in time as it’s an evergreen so will cover up its scars. But it’s rare I’ll do something that radical unless I’m trying to save a plants’ life, which was so in that case.

But topping trees is often a tragedy and I really try to talk people out of it if there’s any other way to go. Often it’s more work to do it right I’ll admit, but you end up with a plant that has it’s natural form instead of bare arms sticking up out of the jungle of suckers that will come on after you top something. It looks like hell to me and I hate it. There are better ways to do it if you just look closely and see where to cut it.

We have a big pruning project we still have to do – an Italian plum in the back yard that shades much of the garden. It’s gotten way too heavy and needs to be thinned badly. It’ll be a few hours project tho and we just haven’t gotten to it yet. But we will soon, before it starts to bud out. The cherry next to it has buds showing now and I think I got to the Maples just in time too because one of the ones I have in a pot is definitely starting to push its buds out already. I’m so excited I can’t stand it! Wow… 😉

Anyway, that’s enough about pruning for now. I know that as time goes on I’ll have many more plants to prune in this garden that have yet to mature. But I hope I’ve done a good enough job of planting them with enough space to grow that I won’t have to do a whole lot of pruning to keep them happy together. Time will tell but if I can do it so you can’t tell I’ll be happy. And so will the plants!

Pruning to be invisible,

Steve

PS: Here are a couple of posts I’ve done on pruning before: https://gardeningingreenwood.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/plant-amnesty-says-stop-topping-trees/ and https://gardeningingreenwood.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/some-thoughts-on-pruning-and-size/. Both have some redundant material but new stuff too, especially about Plant Amnesty, which is so cool I want to share it again… ;). Thanks for reading.

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