maples have been extensively cultivated for hundreds of
western Georgia from Columbus to LaGrange is experiencing an
explosion of color like many have never seen. Every maple
species seems to be trying to outdo the next; as beautiful as
they are, it is the Japanese maples that take your breath
away. These small trees are ablaze with fiery red, orange,
crimson, and yellow lending a tapestry of color to the garden
that cannot be duplicated but by more Japanese maples.
maple is known botanically as Acer palmatum. Nurserymen
usually think of them as in two groups: non-dissected leafed
and dissected-type leaves. Popular cultivars in the
non-dissected group are the award-winning ‘Bloodgood,’
‘Oshu beni’ and ‘Senaki.’ Sometimes we refer to these
as palmate leaves.
Some of those
in the dissected group are ‘Crimson Queen’, ‘Ever
Red’, ‘Tamukeyama,’ and ‘Waterfall.’ Those in the
dissectum group have more of a layered, mushroom shape in the
garden and their heights are usually much shorter. Sometimes
we shorten our description and call these dissected types. A
visit to Mr. Maple’s website, however will show you there is
a lot more to the story.
A couple of
years ago, Matt and Tim Nichols, the gurus of all things
maple, stopped by the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens to get
some seeds of our champion Oliver’s Taiwanese maple. I
quickly realized that their nursery and operation in North
Carolina was epic in its scope and understanding of maples. I
urge all maple aficionados to like their website
www.mrmaple.com. You will see more Japanese maples and other
species too that will make you dream of your possibilities.
they are showing out, now this is a good time to plant. The
Japanese maple prefers well-drained, moist, slightly acidic
soils with morning sun and afternoon shade or areas of dappled
light. Spread a 4-inch layer of fine pine bark and peat over
the bed and till to a depth of 10 inches.
planting hole three to five times as wide as the root ball but
no deeper. The top of the root ball should be even with the
soil profile. Set the tree in the hole and backfill to
two-thirds the depth. Tamp the soil down and water to settle.
Then add the remaining backfill, repeating the process. After
planting, water thoroughly and apply a 3-inch layer of mulch.
water during the summer and protection from wind goes a long
way in preventing scorching and keeping the leaves looking
their best. It also will help retain the leaf color in red
Right now, in
Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain Ga., there is an indescribable
tapestry of color thanks to the vision Fred Charles Galle had
years ago. Fred incorporated Japanese maples in stunning
displays throughout the garden including the Scenic Overlook
and Azalea Trail.
Director of Horticulture from 1953-1979 and Curator then until
1983 and won just about every horticultural award given. He
was both a WWII hero and a ‘Horticultural Hero’ to those
of us who chose it as a vocation. His books, “Azaleas” and
“Hollies: The Genus Ilex” are considered the finest ever
written and should be in every gardener’s library.
Not only do
Japanese maples excel in fall color, but are also among the
showiest plants in early spring combined with azaleas,
camellias, dogwoods, and woodland phlox. Dazzling shows in
both fall and spring make these small trees definite winning
choices. Don’t consider the Japanese maple as a slow grower,
you’ve just been a slow planter. Get one or two planted this
fall and in just a few short years you will have your own
tapestry of color in your landscape.