need advice on varieties of japanese maples

lynbornmanApril 26, 2007

Ok..I posted on the tree forum because I had no idea there was a maple forum. Now I'm very intimidated because I've heard you guys are experts in japanese maples. So let me start by saying I am just starting to sort through this idea and I don't mean to sound like an idiot. My husband and I are going to build a berm in our front yard (irregular shape, 2-3 feet high in center, approximately 18 x 30 feet). The berm is going to be off to the side but in our front yard. From the picture below, basically 10 feet back from where the cameraman is standing is where it will go. And that entire border not seen is woods. I know its a sunny location right now, but the berm will have 3 norway spruce (approximately 8-10feet), a pondless waterfall with possibly a weeping evergreen behind it, several boulders, smaller evergreen and deciduous shrubs and for color, we want to add 2-3 japanese maples. I like the idea of a red taller JM near the top of the berm and coming down the slope a green JM. I prefer the layered branching look and I don't know if thats a species thing or a pruning thing, but I don't want a big upright tree out there. The other thought was to do a layering of 3 JM. More upright red at top, middle a layered branching green JM and bottom of berm a mounding smaller red JM. Sorry I don't know the terminology well. Hopefully I at least got my point across. I saw a ton of bloodgood at the local nursery but in looking at pictures on google, its looks pretty upright and decent size so I'm not sure its the right one for us. I would like to get a more established tree so mail/internet order is not really an option (i.e. needs to be a variety that I can get locally). Any advice at all would be appreciated and if you think the entire idea is nuts or would not work please let me know that too. We are only comitted to the idea of a berm. Everything else is in the drawing stages.

Picture below is sort of where berm will be (more open grass area behind camera). Thanks, Lyn

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I think this sounds like a great idea. I notice that you are in ohio, so the full sun will not be as bad of a problem as it could be. Having said that, your trees still could get some leaf burn in late summer.

Many cultivars of japanese maples do have a layering habit, but a little pruning enhances this quality.

You are right about the 'bloodgood' being an upright large (for JM standards) tree. It would likely get 30 ft high and 20 or so wide in a reasonable time (and in like 50 years significantly larger). There are hundreds of cultivars, so recommending just a few would be difficult. However, we can give a few good common trees, and you can check around to see what's available.

There are several semi-upright reds that are considered smaller than 'bloodgood'. Unfortunately, most growers do not shape their uprights to have a nice spreading shape. They pack them in tight and the trees grow straight up, but you might be able to find a few oddballs that have started getting some horizontal branching.

'Fireglow' is supposedly a smaller red with similar color to 'bloodgood' (there is conflicting information as to its size, it may get almost as large as 'bloodgood'). The habit will be similar, but you might find a tree with good horizontal structure.

'Moonfire' is another similar tree, probably with more purple than the above. There is also conflicting information about this tree, some say it is as large as 'bloodgood' and some say half the size. Judging from the trees I have seen, I would say it is on the smaller end of that range. It seems to have more horizontal growth and less long leggy limbs.

'Pixie' is a dwarf red similar to 'bloodgood' in color (perhaps not holding quite as long), but much smaller. Many of these trees I have seen had good layerered branch structure. However, it is difficult to tell whether this was natural or trained.

There are several others and some other folks will probably reccomend a few more like 'shin deshojo', but I'll move on.

There are many greens that could fit into this middle sized layered type. I don't know where to start here, but perhaps a weeping variety like 'waterfall' or 'viridis' would be good. They will usually spread wider than tall, but they are often staked and pruned to be more upright or mushroom shaped. There are several mid sized trees like 'tsuma gaki' that would be beautiful (although it might not do well in the sun), but the likelihood of finding one at a local nursery is slim.

As far as low mounding types, a red weeping dissectum like 'crimson queen' could be used here if it hadn't been staked. It will grow more or less horizontally and along the ground if untrained. However, it can get quite wide in the 10 ft range. There are several dwarf shrubby types like 'shaina' that you might run accross that would be signifcantly smaller and have a low mounding habit.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 12:18AM
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Thank you so much for all of the advice. We are going to a few nurseries today for other reasons and bringing a list of your suggestions to see what they have. They are chock full of japanese maples right now but I think 90% of them are bloodgood. Interestingly, my husband saw a tsuma gaki last night and loved it. We didn't know anything about it and the tag was useless. They did only have one sitting off to the side by itself so maybe we'll go back and snag that one until we figure out the rest. Thanks again! Lyn

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 9:48AM
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'Tsuma gaki' is really spectacular...but like I mentioned it may be a bit more tender in full sun. Potting it up and setting it in the burm might be something you could consider. If it does fine, you could plant it up in the fall. If not, you could fine a shady place for it elsewhere.

After all, JMs often look spectacular in the right ceramic pot. Many folks (including some of those on these forums and myself) keep most of theirs potted up indefinetely. I have all of mine in pots as I have yet to even look for my future house, and they do great.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 9:48PM
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tnemeth888(NE Ohio)

Lyn - I live in North East Ohio and have 16 Japanese Maples in my yard right now! I have all different varieties and out of all of them one of my favorites is the Garnet. It's color matches it's name as being a bright red pretty much all year long. It will eventually get to around 12 feet. My second favorite is the Inaba Shidare which has a similar leaf to the Garnet but is much darker and holds up to full sun much better. It's probably one of the most upright "lace leaf" maples out there. It will reach around 12 feet as well. Good luck and happy planting!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2007 at 1:06AM
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I think the idea of keeping the tsuma gaki in a pot till fall is a fabulous idea. My husband loves it so I think its definitely on the list of ones we are planning to get.

tnemth or anyone else: Does the Inabe Shidare have orangish leaves. They have several of those in the nurseries around here and the size seems perfect but I wanted more of a red color and from the very limited pictures on google and at the nursery it seemed to be kind of orange/brown. Anyone have experience w/ these?

Thanks Lyn

    Bookmark   April 28, 2007 at 9:03AM
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dbornman(7b MD)

Actually, I think I am confused .... the orange colored one was the oshio beni. We found both the inabe shidare and oshio beni yesterday in the nursery and my husband liked the oshio beni but this is the one in which I was worried about its color. - Lyn (fyi: this is my husbands wouldn't let me post again under my same name).

    Bookmark   April 28, 2007 at 9:19AM
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myersphcf(z6a IL)

FYI if you ever want to post a followup as a "next' post go to the "subject of posting" and put an "&" "and" "fyi" or whatever as I have done here at the end or just change it in any way...if it is a long subject put curser at right and arrow over to end...

    Bookmark   April 28, 2007 at 9:34AM
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Yes, 'oshio beni' tends to have more of an orange red to bronze and eventually greenish color by late summer. Most of the other reds stay more of a purple red color throughout a majority of the summer. This makes 'oshio beni' and unusual colored variety, some ppl like it more and some less. Regardless I think it is a nice tree.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2007 at 10:53PM
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tnemeth888(NE Ohio)

Lyn - late fall will bring a beautiful bright red with the Inaba.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 10:54AM
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