How to - Gardening Resources

Maple leaves forever: Growing maple trees

Celebrate this patriotic plant all year round by growing the right type of tree

Ornamental maples
The fullmoon maple,A. japonicum (hardy to Zone 6), is a lovely tree for a little corner out of the winter wind. Its intriguing, moon-like leaves are chartreuse green turning to rich yellow and crimson in autumn and have wavy edges as though trimmed with pinking shears. Occasionally its fancy-leafed hybrid, A. japonicum 'Aconitifolium' can be found. It is quite different from the fullmoon parent and possibly the most flamboyant of all Japanese maples, with sharply incised leaves that turn to deepest crimson, earning it the prideful Japanese name of Mai kujaku or dancing peacock. These maples are both highly ornamental and just the thing to have near a seating area or to one side of an entrance, where their fine details will be noticed. They will grow well in light shade to full sun, but require more water in stronger light.

Finally, for colder regions, two small, ornamental maples: the striped snake bark maple (A. pensylvanicum, hardy to Zone 3), and the amur maple (A. ginnala 'Flame', hardy to Zone 2). The striped snake bark maple has a maximum height of eight metres and spread of six metres, and prefers cool, moist soil in partial shade. In spring, its yellow, pendulous flowers glow against the vividly striped bark and young reddish stems. The tree's golden autumn colour is exceptional. The amur maple 'Flame' is a large shrub or small tree reaching seven metres high and wide, useful to anchor a long cottage garden border at one end or stand at the foot of a country driveway. It has stylized leaves of three lobes compressed into a narrow shape. If grown in strong sunlight, it comes alive in autumn with deep scarlet colour. Amur maple is the toughest of the small maples and will tolerate a dry site and wind, still producing its red display at season's end.


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