Maple Leaf - Illustration by Helen KrayenhoffLike a large mixed flock of migratory birds, hundreds of young Japanese Maples, mostly varieties of Acer palmatum, A. japonicum and A. shirasawanum, have recently arrived and settled into their temporary roosts at the nursery. The trees will be undergoing their brilliant fall “molt” of orange, gold, scarlet and crimson leaves, but there should still be enough remaining foliage to get a sense of each variety’s characteristic leaf size and shape, from the tiny crumpled stars of ‘Shishi gashira’ to the scarf-sized leaves of Acer nipponicum. And soon, the bare branches and twigs of ‘Sango kaku’ and ‘Beni kawa’ will develop a strong blush of coral to scarlet, a seasonal change of bark color that contrasts beautifully with dark green conifers.

Whether planted in containers or in the ground, Japanese Maples generally prefer moist, well-drained, humus-y soil, and shelter from strong winds. Most grow very well in light shade or full sun with protection during the hottest parts of the day; laceleaf, threadleaf and variegated forms prefer dappled afternoon shade.

One gallon grafted trees start at $36.95,
#5 size pots at $119.95.