We are fortunate to have 5 Japanese Maples in our shady courtyard at The Raincatcher’s Garden.
Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ is a classic upright red, the Japanese maple that made Japanese maples famous in America. Oddly enough the name ‘Bloodgood’ came from the family name of the owners of Bloodgood Nursery in New York and had nothing to do with its red color. Fortunately, the name fits this lovely red Japanese maple. It leafs out in the spring with bright red leaves which develop to deep maroon red, providing dynamic contrast throughout the spring, summer and especially in the autumn when the color intensifies displaying shades of oranges and reds which will grab anyone’s attention and make your yard look spectacular.
Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ grows upright in habit to around 20-25 feet in thirty years. A very hardy and vigorous grower ‘Bloodgood’ does well in sun or filtered light. While this is typically the first Japanese maple tree for most people, it has also become a necessity in every garden and maple collection due to its amazing red color. Zones 5-9
Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’ is an upright, slow-growing, vase-shaped form that typically grows over time to as much as 20-25’ tall. It is sometimes commonly called coral bark maple in reference to its distinctive and showy pink bark which provides excellent color and contrast to landscapes in winter. Pink coloration is less pronounced to almost absent in summer. Best pink coloration occurs on young twigs and branches. Palmate leaves with serrate margins emerge yellow- green with reddish margins in spring, mature to light green by summer and turn yellow-gold in fall. Cultivar name means coral tower (sango meaning sea coral and kaku meaning tower/upward growing) as if to suggest this pink-barked cultivar resembles coral rising upward from a reef.
Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’ is a good sun-dappled understory tree and because of its excellent winter bark it should be sited where the pink bark in winter can be most appreciated. Zones 5-8
Acer palmatum ‘Crimson Queen’ is one of the finest Japanese maples, an outstanding dissectum cultivar with a deep-red foliage. Most dissectum cultivars that start out with excellent red color during spring and early summer turn green or bronze later in the season. Crimson Queen carries its deep red color throughout the entire growing season. Crimson Queen is sun, heat and humidity tolerant, but prefers protection from harsh direct sun. Fall color is an array of bright scarlet tones.
Acer palmatum ‘Crimson Queen’ grows in the classic mushroom shape and older trees develop a beautiful branching pattern. The mounding habit of ‘Crimson Queen’ makes for a specimen tree maturing to a maximum height of 8 to 10 feet, although some top out at about 5 feet due to their weeping characteristic, and a spread, depending on pruning, of 7 to 12 feet. Zones 5-8
Acer palmatum ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ Considered one of the top 3 varieties in the world for bonsai, beautiful ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ is a naturally dwarf, layered tree with tight branching. If left alone, it will reach about 5 feet high and wide within a decade and stays much smaller if root-trimmed for bonsai. What makes ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ so distinctive is the way in which the leaves are held. Deeply lobed and quite elongated, they arise in tufts, overlapping one another, as if fanned out for display. This creates little canopies on every branch, a very striking effect.
Acer palmatum ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’ In spring, the new foliage unfurls in shades of yellow- tinted green, very pale and eye-catching. As summer arrives, they darken to a rich mid-green and remain that way until the cooler temperatures of autumn, when they burnish brightest orange to scarlet. It is outstanding in containers or the garden. Zones 5-8.
Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’ is an older cultivar. A medium sized tree with a most unusual characteristic – the leaves are small and crinkled around upright branches. In Japanese the name translates to Lion’s Head or Lion’s Mane, based upon a mythical lion in Japanese drama because of its shape and growth habit. Bunched up, heavily curled leaves grow at the end of short stout shoots. The foliage is deep green and firm to the touch. The tree structure is stiff – branches and leaves do not wave in the wind, as with most maples. The dark green foliage turns to orange and finally scarlet red in the fall.
Shishigashira is considered a slow growing tree suitable for bonsai enthusiasts. Shishigashira like other Japanese maples, benefits from some pruning to shape the tree, as well as removing any dead branches. The estimated height in 10 years is 12′. Once established this cultivar is hardy to -20 degrees, Zones 5-8
Photos show trees at Raincatcher’s in the fall except the last Maple which is new to our garden and photographed last week.
Photos by Starla Willis
My favorite Maple is the Coral Bark Maple because it was given so generously by the Master Gardeners at Raincatcher’s in honor of my Mother, Betty Haughton.
More about Japanese Maples here.