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Japanese maples offer Oriental calmness


 
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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 3:50 pm    Post subject: Japanese maples offer Oriental calmness Reply with quote

Japanese maples offer Oriental calmness

I have been known to rant on about how people should try to include native plants within their garden. However, I would never dissuade someone from including a Japanese maple within his or her garden; on the contrary, I would heartily recommend it.

The image of a Japanese maple in full leaf brings to my mind images of oriental calmness, still water and moss-covered mountains. This elegant plant is a distinct part of the culture and consciousness of its native Japan through its use in both horticulture and art. In the year 1800, over 200 varieties of this plant were noted in Japan, this figure grew over the next 100 years, only to have those numbers knocked back again to 200 by the maelstrom of the second world war.

Japanese maples also known as Acer palmatum or Acer japonicum are diminutive in stature compared to other trees. Heights range from 1 metre to 7 metres, leading many gardeners to class them as large shrubs rather than small trees. Words cannot do justice to the colour displayed by a Japanese maple; only seeing is believing. An Acer gardener will experience fiery new spring growth, calm summer foliage and even fierier autumn chilled leaves.

Maple groups and their needs.

There are two main groups of Japanese maple. The "Palmate" group has a reasonably upright growth habit with layered branches and leaves that are made up of five to nine lobes. The "Dissectum" group rightly lives up to its name with its lobed leaves dissected, feathered and lace-like. I feel that the maples in the "Dissectum" group look particularly well if planted close by an informal water feature due mainly to their weeping, cascading form.


The interesting leaves of the Japanese maple "Dissectum" group, photo / pic / image.

Japanese maples thrive if planted in an east facing aspect, allowing them access to the morning sun and protection from the mid-day sun. Shelter from winds and a moist but free draining soil are also important cultivation requirements. A 7cm layer of bark mulch applied to the plants base will help prevent drying out.

To enable good growth you must feed your little piece of the orient, apply a liquid fertiliser in mid-spring and again in mid-summer at half strength. As these Acers are shallow rooted, they are ideal for planting amongst other shrubs with no check to growth. For a delightful oriental scene, try planting Acer palmatum with rhododendrons, azalea, bamboo and birch.

Container maples.
Two beautiful specimen maples are "Orange Dream" and "Beni-Maiko". "Orange Dream" is worth mentioning due to its fresh yellow/green lobed leaves, whilst the young growing tips have an orange glow, providing an attractive contrast. "Beni-Maiko" on the other hand produces lovely pink foliage in spring turning to dark red in summer. Both of these Acers grow to around 1 metre tall, an ideal size for container growing.

If you choose to grow your Japanese maple in a container, try to select a pot that is sympathetic to the plants heritage, a glazed oriental style container would be ideal.

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Last edited by James Kilkelly on Mon Jun 11, 2007 6:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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shefra
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting GPI, I have two acers, featherytype that I put in pots last year, was amazed they survived the winter but due to heavy clay soil conditions can I keep then in pots indefinitely?
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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 6:15 pm    Post subject: Japanese maple in a pot. Reply with quote

Continually growing a Japanese maple in a pot is difficult, but not impossible. You must be aware that being in a pot exposes the tree to more extremes of temperature and drought. The soil in the pot is more prone to continual freezing and thawing in winter, unless you position it in a frost-free zone at that time.

Dark coloured pots can overheat the roots of the plant if positioned in full sun during the summer. Also drying out the roots quickly are porous pots such as unsealed terracotta. So, keep a close eye on that watering.

You will also have to repot the tree every few years (approx 3 to 4) or it may become "pot-bound". You can move up a pot size or else carefully trim the trees roots and repot it in its existing container.

But my first piece of advice to you is to get rid of the clay soil you are using. This is not conducive to good air or water travel within a pot. Instead, repot with a special potting mix for container trees and shrubs.

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shefra
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What I meant is that soil in gdn is heavy clay that is why I left them in pots. There is a shady part of the garden, more rocky than clay could I plant them there, and when?
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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Remove a lot of those rocks, if possible, and incorporate a good quantity of compost.
If the site is just in partial shade it should be ok.
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