One of the most striking features of Larch Cottage at this time of year, is our extensive collection of Acer palmatum, or Japanese Maples. A walk through Acer Avenue reveals the huge variety of graceful forms, stunning foliage and exquisite colours we have available. As specialists in acers we offer a wide range of sizes and prices. Our collection includes Acer palmatum ‘Koto No Ito’, a large, slow-growing shrub with fresh green, finely dissected foliage and a lovely, golden autumn colour. It will reach an eventual height of between 8-10 feet and is suitable for a large pot. One of our most spectacular trees is Acer palmatum ‘Orange Dream’ AGM, which forms a densely branched, umbrella shaped tree and has foliage which unfolds yellow, matures to green before turning a rich, golden orange in autumn. Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’ has large, deep green palmate leaves that turn a spectacular, fiery red in autumn while Acer palmatum ‘Pink Passion’ is one of the best pink-leaved acers for summer colour. It has striking, variegated light and dark pink leaves with hints of cream and pale green, which turn red in autumn. Our collection also contains acers that offer stunning, ornamental bark, such as Acer palmatum ‘Sango-Kaku’ AGM, a variety with lovely golden to lime-green foliage, turning canary-yellow in autumn, along with beautiful coral-red bark. We also stock new introductions which are more heat resistant and so can withstand direct sunlight, such as Acer palmatum ‘Summer Gold’.
Extremely slow growing, Acer palmatum make an ideal choice for the smaller garden, or pot cultivation, and are relatively easy to look after. Most prefer a sheltered site, in dappled sunlight or partial shade. Red and purple-leaved cultivars require a degree of sunshine in order to fully develop their colours while variegated varieties need partial shade in order to prevent scorching by strong sunlight. Green-leaved varieties will tolerate full sun but are also best in partial shade to prevent scorch.
Acers ideally prefer slightly acidic, free draining soil, that is high in organic content, but they will tolerate other soil conditions, as long as it is not too wet, too dry or very alkaline. Having shallow, fibrous roots also means that they do not like to be in competition with other plants, so ensure that they are not crowded in your garden borders.
Acer palmatum are ideal plants for pot cultivation. Use an ericaceous compost with an open, free-draining structure and high organic content. Keep your pots moist but not wet and feed in spring and early summer with a slow-release fertiliser or liquid feed. Plants will need to be protected from frost so wrap containers with bubble wrap during the coldest months. It is also a good idea to protect newly emerging leaves in spring with horticultural fleece, as the foliage is extremely tender and will be damaged by cold overnight temperatures and late frosts. Every couple of years a container grown specimen will need to be re-potted, ideally in April or September.
Any pruning should be kept to a minimum, and focus on removing badly-placed branches or crossing shoots, as the most graceful forms are achieved when the plant is left to grow naturally. If pruning is required, carry it out in mid-summer when the pressure of the sap has reduced
With such a wide variety of plants available, there is one to suit most situations and tastes and now is a great time to visit the nursery to appreciate the exquisite beauty of these graceful, stunning trees.
Blog post written by Jo Chamberlain