Japanese maples and why

In the past I planted a couple different Japanese maples. This year I noticed how much I like them. Below is the first one I brought home long ago. It’s grown to about ten feet tall, in complete shade, beneath birch trees and big maples.

Japanese maple

It’s about ten years old and is named something.

small red maple limb & birdbath copy

In the fall it is the reddest thing in my gardens.

Here is another one, a little taller, maybe five years old, and happy in afternoon sun.

Japanese maple

It has fall color too but not so violent. And it has a name. I’m sure it does.

Now, here are the pro’s and con’s of Japanese maples according to me.

Cute leaves.
Fall color.
Smallness, relative to oak trees.
Largeness, relative to rose bushes except climbing rose bushes.
Which is to say the little maples are trees which I can plant under other trees which means I can make a tree understory out of trees. The small trees make the garden rooms continue UP so there are layers of rooms, so interesting, but you don’t have to build stairs up to them and stairs are annoying to clean so that’s a plus too.

Native to Japan. This is hardly a con except I have a kind of guiding influence that values local natives first and heirloom varieties next. But the Plant Committee ––the dog and I–– voted about that and agreed to ignore the guidelines yet again, although Max was asleep when this “more maples” motion passed.

Max at the meeting

So now I have a new Japanese maple, planted to replace the also not-native tangerine tree which died in last winter’s horrific zero-ish freezing temperatures, no matter how many blankets and hot water bottles I provided––and heaven knows I tried, but really when your number is up it’s up and the tangerine tree’s number was way the hell up. RIP tangerine.

Here is the cute new maple located where the tangerine isn’t.

Koto no ito maple

Dear readers, meet Acer palmatum “Koto no ito.”

Aside: Koto no ito, those people looking at you are readers.

There. You’ve met. This little tree’s name, which you notice I completely know what is, means something about the leaves looking like the strings on a harp.  It likes shade for those wispy, threaded leaves, with a tiny bit of sun filtered through aspen trees and the cozy comfort of a south house wall. Or anyway that’s what it’s getting and has been doing well.

Koto no ito foliage

In the fall it too will be all pinky golden and festive. It will grow 8-10 feet tall and 6-8 feet wide, just right for it’s location, and it is very hardy and will not require so much as plant socks in order to survive the winter. I call her Koto for short and we are getting along famously.

In other news, this old succulent (Sempervivum tectorum) is doing something. Blooming maybe. hens and chicks

Although I’m hoping it might help somehow with my cell-phone reception.

Then too the balloon flowers are popping and snowy beside the Fairy roses…

balloon flowers & fairy roses

…and the Lagerstroemia, another wonderful small tree, is in bloom by the porch.

crape myrtle

It’s more commonly known as cr*pe myrtle. (Choose your own vowel.)

sprinkler east

Happy July!


About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in trees and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Japanese maples and why

  1. Chad B says:

    Japanese maples may be from Japan but your part of the world grows them better than anywhere else! Enjoy your little Koto. I have one too . . . They grow up so fast.

  2. Chloris says:

    I love your maples, they are the aristocrats of trees. That is a very classy fern under the first one. My only objection to maples and ferns is that I can never remember their names.
    I find it is wind rather than cold that maples object to.
    Having seen your beautiful Platycodon I am going outside to rip mine up.

    • linniew says:

      Well you can see that I only know the names of my maples one third of the time. And never ferns. I have not heard of a maple being bothered by wind here, except maybe hurricanes which can knock them completely over. So sorry about your Platycodon. It frightens me a little that I was somehow integral to its demise…

  3. Lyn says:

    Lovely maples, but I am jealous because they don’t like it here. On the other hand, my Sempervivum tectorum grows well, but has never done anything as interesting as yours. Maybe it’s calling the mother ship? Thank you for allowing me to choose my own vowel. Henceforward, my Lagerstroemias shall be known as Cripe Myrtles. Happy July to you and Max.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Lyn
      If the cactusy thing (my grandma called them Hen & Chicks) disappears I will assume they got beamed up.

      Your choice of vowel gave me a nice laugh over morning coffee– thank you! Now I’m seeing this tree as crupe, crope, or possibly some combinations like crowp or creap… Creep Myrtle. Oh I do like that one.

  4. I really like the white balloon flower with the Fairy roses. I’m not a huge fan of Japanese maples, though they do have nice color.

    • linniew says:

      You are so polite Jason. But I psychically sense that you hate those little maples. Could this be because of all the little round-shaped ones seen in the middle of front lawns like furry large pom-poms? And usually red? Or does this have to do with something deeper, maybe from your childhood? Just relax there on the couch and think back… 😉

  5. kate says:

    Why not? These are as tough as any in our melting pot gardens. I love that the little native bumble bees go crazy over them in the Spring.

    • linniew says:

      I will be watching for that in Spring next. My rule is to do anything for honeybees, bumblebees and hummingbirds. Well all birds. And the more trees the merrier, too!

  6. Peter/Outlaw says:

    I’ve also fallen for Japanese maples but have run out of space in the ground so my Koto is in a pot. (Another great thing about these maples is that they will tolerate being in pots!) Hope you and your new tree will be happy together for many years! Love the last picture – so July!

    • linniew says:

      Yes I have a pot for one too but haven’t filled it yet. They are versatile little trees and so graceful. I should have known you’d have one Peter!

      I rarely water the grass as in that last image. Mostly there is just enough water in the well for the beds. But every now and then…

  7. What wonderful Maples, the colours are amazing! I keep meaning to buy one for a pot on my patio, but still haven’t got around to it.You’ve just given me the nudge I needed!

    • linniew says:

      Hi Paula
      Nice we can nudge one another in this way which might be why we are all online like this. Well that and the amazing people. Off to check out your blog!

  8. I love crape myrtles! But I love those Japanese maples even more. I always wish I had one whenever I see them on a blog. They grow here but not always happily. I usually see them planted an inch away from a walkway or driveway because that is just such the perfect spot for them!

    • linniew says:

      Well that’s the way I always spelled it. Because ‘crepe’ is paper, right? But regarding the maples, I did plant young Koto along a grass walkway so I see how that happens. I’m hoping for some slight arching-over-the-walk effect as she grows toward the sun–

      You probably need one of these little maples Tammy. There are only about a million varieties to choose from, all sizes and exposures covered.

  9. I too love Acers, but only have one, A.palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’ which is like your first pic but purple. Your last pic is A.palmatum ‘Dissectum’ which is my favourite. 🙂

    • linniew says:

      I keep finding more places to plant more little maples. I expect it is well that I can’t afford to buy as many as I would, at this moment, like. I looked up Acer palmatum ‘Dissectum’ — those trees are more mounding in form. The last pic in this post is actually of the sprinkler. 🙂 But the last image of a maple is indeed A. palmatum ‘Koto no ito,’ quite vertical and open.

  10. Such beauties. You must have a green thumb or something!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s