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April – Magic Maples
Japanese maples are the perfect choice of tree for any small, compact or courtyard garden. Their character and appeal makes them ideal for creating a focal point in your garden, brightening a shaded corner, or elegantly overhanging a pool or water feature.
Many acers are commonly called Japanese maples, but their parents could be derived from several different species including Acer japonicum, Acer palmatum, Acer shirasawanum or others. Among them are some extremely slow-growing forms, with trees remaining a small, manageable size without the need for regular pruning.
To help you choose the best varieties with outstanding garden performance always look for ones that have received an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) from the Royal Horticultural Society. Here are some of the most widely available AGM varieties:
Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’
Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’
Acer palmatum ‘Sango-Kaku’
Golden Shirasawanum maple (Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’)
TOP TIPS FOR GROWING JAPANESE MAPLES
1. Choose a sheltered site where trees are protected from late spring frosts, cold winds and scorching summer sun.
2. Maples prefer well-drained soil containing plenty of compost to lock in moisture and ensure the ground never dries out.
3. Spread a deep mulch of leaf-mould, compost or shredded bark over the soil around maples to retain moisture and reduce annual weed growth.
4. For growing in containers choose large and stable terracotta pots with several drainage holes in their base. Line pots with a sheet of plastic before filling with compost to reduce water loss through the sides.
5. As trees can remain in pots for several years it’s best to plant them using a loam-based John Innes No.3 compost with extra grit added to ensure good drainage. Do remember that established trees will need repotting into larger pots every few years.
6. Keep the top of the compost a few inches below the pot rim to make watering from above easier, covering the surface with a mulch of pebbles or ornamental gravel.
7. Water regularly with collected rainwater, and stand pots in saucers of water to provide a reservoir for trees to take up each day during hot, dry periods.
8. Tree roots can be susceptible to frost damage in winter, so either move pots to sheltered sites or wrap with bubble polythene insulation.