Ukigumo Japanese Maple

Ukigumo Japanese Maple

Few trees are as striking in a garden as the Ukigumo Japanese maple. The name, which fittingly translates to “floating clouds,” reminds me of a Japanese ink landscape painting (Sumi-e) from the Tokugawa Period.

Early Summer Mountains in the Rain

This hanging ink scroll by Tani Buncho (circa 1826) entitled Early Summer Mountains in the Rain, is a perfect example of how the mountains and trees float among the clouds as if they have no weight at all. It’s like two separate worlds are mixed in a dream.

Ukigumo Japanese maple

This is what I think of when I see Acer Palmatum Ukigumo. The small leaves are a mix of light and dark green with a fine mist of white blown over them—ash from a volcano, or an ancient aboriginal cave painting. The clustering leaves flow like drifting clouds around green-gray bark that peeks through the “mist” of branches like distant trees on mountains.

acer palmatum japanese maple

It’s very easy to get lost in poetics with Ukigumo. The tree is quite unusual. In the first year, leaves tend to be larger, and less white. Each year of age brings whiter, and daintier leaves with some puckering and curling. Some growers will find pale tones of pink, and others crisp white, sometimes there’s a hint of soft yellow among the maple’s leaves.

acer palmatum ukigumo

The Ukigumo Japanese maple will grow to about 10–12 feet at maturity, adding about 6 inches each year. It tends to grow vertically, and widens at the top. Ukigumo won’t develop a broad spreading canopy, instead it seems to send out shoots, and then fills in the branches as it ages.

Japanese Maple Ukigumo

While most Acer Palmatums prefer shade, this is one that absolutely must have it to perform. Many growers complain about it’s lack of white when planting the tree in full sun. It also puts out whiter leaves as it ages. so be patient with this tree, and you will be rewarded.

Amagi Shigure Japanese Maple

Amagi Shigure Japanese Maple

Amagi Shigure Japanese MapleAmagi Shigure Japanese Maple has some of the most intense brick red colors I’ve seen in a maple.  The spring colors have been described as eye-popping fuchsia, shifting to deep brick red with dark greenish black veins.  Leaves that are more shaded take on a pale whitish-pink tone with vibrant green reticulation.

acer palmatum amagi shigure

Even the bark is amazing on this tree, older branches are a soft dusty gray-brown, while growth from a few years ago will be a pale grayish jade, and new growth will be a deep cherry-brown.  The hobbit seems slightly to be full, but not dense, and slightly leggy in places (which is wonderful, because it gives you plenty of views of that bark)

Amagi Shigure Japanese Maple Leaf

Amagi was discovered in Japan, and while it resembles ‘Kasagi yama’, it holds it’s color much longer.  It also bears similarity to Purple Ghost from the Buchholz series, but is slightly smaller, and perhaps a bit less vigorous. Acer Palmatum Amagi Shigure will grow to about 6 feet hight and 3 feet wide in 10 years.

Acer Palmatum Amagi Shigure leaves

If there is only room for a few trees in your yard, I can’t say enough that you must save a spot for this spectacular Japanese Maple!

 

Mikazuki Japanese Maple

Mikazuki Japanese Maple

acer palmatum mikazuki leavesMikazuki Japanese maple is a beautiful addition to any Acer Palmatum collection. An upright tree reaching about 8–10 feet in 10 years, Mikazuki won’t overwhelm a smaller garden. As with most Japanese maples, Mikazuki puts on an extraordinary show in the spring. Like a pot of simmering strawberry and rhubarb, saturated hues of bright watermelon, fuchsia and candy apple red are threaded with olive and grass toned veins.  As the leaves unfurl, shaded areas appear frosted and reticulated with a pale pink raspberry blush.

Mikazuki 1

Mikazuki 2Mikazuki has some similarities to Olsen’s Frosted Strawberry, but I find the color much more vibrant, and the leaves slightly larger. The habit of Olsen’s is also more squat, and horizontal, while Mikazuki reaches upward. It’s a rather fun growth habit in fact. Leaves tend to cluster in denser bunches and occasionally produce longer shoots which cluster again. In maturity this should offer some great views of the green bark through the richly colored leaves.

Mikazuki 4The name, Mikazuki, means “crescent moon.” It was chosen for the thinly-lobed leaves, but it’s not really the most descriptive name for this tree. I think something that captures the fantastic reticulated talon-like leaves, resembling hooked and scaly dragon claws, would have been more appropriate for the cultivar’s name.

Mikazuki is a fast growing Japanese maple that is quite hardy—at least to zone 5. It prefers more sun to get the best color, and even though reticulated maples usually do well with protection from mid day heat, Mikazuki can tolerate full sun.

Mikazuki 7

Mikazuki 6

Mikazuki 5

New Japanese Maple Arrivals

New Japanese Maple Arrivals

Japanese maples in the hoop house

Spring has been in full swing here at Topiary Gardens for over a month.  After an unusually warm winter, we had one final freeze that reminded us why we keep our trees safe inside the tents and building until May.  That nasty freeze shook some buds off a few trees growing in our gardens, but they’re coming along nicely now—even if they are a little sparse at the moment. The above photo is of one of our hoop houses with the newly leafing out Japanese maples (taken in early May)

Below are some photos of the larger trees that have already started shipping out to their new homes.  Remember, we don’t list everything on our site, so make sure to ask us if you don’t see what your are looking for, or would like a larger Japanese Maple specimen than what we have listed for sale. We can always get just about anything in any size.  If you are looking for a larger sized tree, make sure to ask us early on before they sell out, or so we can put you on a list for next year!

large japanese maple 1

large japanese maple 2

We’ve also begun cleaning out our waterfall garden and Koi pond as seen in the photo below.  You can get a better glimpse of that garden in this video.

Japanese Maple waterfall garden

What Ate My Japanese Maple Trees?

What Ate My Japanese Maple Trees?

 

damaged Acer Palmatum Sawa Chidori Japanese maple trees

Throughout the cold winter months, critters will be on the hunt for food. With snow making foraging difficult, they may resort to nibbling things other than fallen seeds and nuts- namely the bark on your Japanese maple trees. On top of that, squirrels have a nasty habit of snapping off small branches to mark their territory—which can be quite devastating to young maples under 5 years old.

Once critters have munched on your Japanese maple’s bark—or ripped off branches—nothing can be done cosmetically to hide the scar.  As time goes on, the tree will heal itself if the damage isn’t too severe, and once your maple reaches maturity, it will hardly be noticeable.

If you don’t want your newly planted Japanese maple trees to get a serious pruning by your furry neighbors, remember to use a combination of granular animal repellents and sprays. I like using Bobbex which lasts about 3 months (even through heavy rains), or Ortho® Animal B Gon® every 30 days from October thru December, and then again from March thru May. It’s a good idea to change up brands once in a while so animals don’t get used to the same ones.

Most people mistakenly blame critter damage on mice, but they aren’t the culprits. The real offenders are voles.  They are a stronger critter than a mouse and very destructive. Voles have a shorter body, shorter tail, coarse hair, and small eyes.  Rather cute!  Bait for mice or rats won’t work on voles. You need a bait that is specific for voles or includes them on the list.   I use Kaput mouse and vole bait.

Also, try to keep leaves and weeds away from the base of your Japanese maples so animals can’t tunnel or hide while eating your trees.  Use tree guards to keep woodchucks, squirrels or other bark-eating critters from doing damage. You can even wrap burlap around the trunk of your Japanese maples to keep critters away.

Broken Branches on Japanese Maples

Broken Branches on Japanese Maples

It’s an unfortunate fact of nature that Japanese maples are made of wood, and therefore it’s possible that your prized specimen could break a branch at some point. This may happen under the weight of a heavy snow—especially if the tree still has most of its leaves. A branch could also be snapped during a storm with high winds, so neither the North nor the South is immune to such damage. Even when Japanese maples are young and supple (only a few years old), you might wake to discover several thin branches inexplicably torn off and the bark stripped away from the trunk by critters- but that’s another post…

To Prune or Repair a Broken Japanese Maple Branch

Its a good idea to check your Japanese maples after a storm with high winds or heavy snow. Mending broken branches is fine if they are not too far gone, so getting to them quickly is essential when trying to save a damaged branch. As long as the cambium layer is intact, it can mend itself with a little help.  But as the tree ages and the branch becomes larger and heavier, there is still a chance it could completely break off since it’s not as strong as it once was. If the tree is young, there is plenty of time for it to grow out and still have a nice shape, so I would recommend cutting the branch off now rather than risk another break when the tree is mature. If the tree looks misshapen with the branch gone, you will have to prune it and reshape it, and it may take a few years before it looks nice again. New branches will begin to grow from the broken area, and you’ll have to pick one that will give the tree the best sense of balance. This would be the same technique for squirrel damage on young Japanese maples.

If your branch is split, but still attached and freshly broken, there’s a chance you could save it by bolting, tying, or taping it back in place. While having to prune off a major branch can be heartbreaking at the time, it could result in a uniquely shaped Japanese maple that one day is prized for it’s individuality.

DSC07246

The photo on the left is of Acer Palmatum Bloodgood that lost one of it’s two major limbs (literally cutting the tree in half).  It was devastating, but the tree is thriving at 30 years old, and with the careful addition of other specimens, rocks and water features, this tree has become a centerpiece of the garden. The odd shape and leaning habit makes it look much older than it actually is, and brings a lot of movement into the garden.

The photo on the right is of Acer Palmatum Dissectum Baldsmith that split, but was able to be repaired. It lives in a pot, and is thriving as well. While it’s healthy now, the break may one day invite disease, insects, or simply split again as the tree ages and endures another nasty battle with inclement weather. But, then again, it could do fine. It’s a gamble worth taking. If I did prune the branch off, half the tree would be gone. With weeping Japanese Maples, it’s more of a challenge to find a balanced shape after a major break. Therefore, something that is one sided would be used beside a rock, arching over a stream, or tucked in with some other bushes hiding the bad part. So, there would always be a place for a damaged Japanese maples somewhere in the garden. No need to throw them away. Just be creative, and use their new shape to your advantage.

ED SHINN’S 2016 SPRING MAPLE GATHERING

We would like to take this opportunity to invite you to the twelfth spring garden gathering being held in our garden and home at the New Jersey shore on Saturday May 21, 2016. We took a year off from the spring gathering in 2015 and we missed the company of our gardening friends. This event is an informal meeting of plant collectors, nursery professionals and hobbyist to provide the opportunity to discuss new plants, plant problems and just talk. Over the years this has grown from a small meeting of 6 maple nuts to over 80 attendees.

The garden features over 1,000 maples, 500 conifers and hundreds of other companion plants. There have been some new additions to the gardens with over 250 new plants added in 2015.

A silent auction contributes to the success of the gathering and the unusual and rare plant material that is donated makes this one of the day’s most popular events. This year as in the past 100% of the money raised in the silent auction will go to benefit the Morris Arboretum greenhouse/propagation fund. Even if you can’t make the gathering you can still donate plants to the silent auction.

Plan to arrive between 9:00 and 10:00 AM for coffee and bagels, we will  provide lunch during the day as well.  Silent auction plants will be displayed and open for bids all day. The silent auction will end a little earlier, around 1:00 PM this year to better accommodate visitors travel plans. We are also hoping to have a few specialty growers selling some unusual plants as well.  Whether you are a first time visitor or have attended the gathering in the past, you should plan to visit some of the great public gardens and specialty nurseries in the area.

Registration for the gathering is required so we can better plan lunch and space is limited.  There is no charge for the event but we ask attendees to bring an item for the silent auction if possible. Please respond via email to edward@eshinn.com. Our garden and home is located in central coastal New Jersey, about one hour from NYC, Philadelphia and Atlantic City and easily accessible from major highways. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or for directions.

Edward T. Shinn

3214 Allaire Road

Wall, NJ 07719

Beautiful Fall  Japanese Maples

Beautiful Fall Japanese Maples

With the passing of Labor Day, it won’t be long before we see the first Japanese Maples begin to blush with oranges, crimsons, and golds. While most people have to travel in order to enjoy foliage fireworks, with a little careful planning you can ensure that your garden is a kaleidoscope of color from every angle.

Japanese garden fall colors

With so much to think about while planning a new garden in the spring, the autumnal color display can be forgotten. It’s easy to become wrapped up in choosing Japanese maples based on their summer hues, growth habits and mature sizes, but keeping the fall colors in mind is just as important. There’s nothing wrong with a blazing crimson display, but a well-planned garden will glow with golden yellows, flaming oranges, regal starlets and even some deep frosty blues and olive greens from a few carefully placed pines.

Acer Palmatum Royale, Royale Japanese Maple

Japanese maples come in two main colors: green and red. But in the spring and fall, these magnificent trees can produce an endless spectrum of colors. With many thousands of cultivars available, choosing just the right combination for your garden is easier than it seems. If you are stuck between a few different trees that are very similar, let the fall colors be the deciding factor. A tree like Royal (pictured above) will produce a brilliant scarlet red, while Ellen (shown below) will glow golden yellow in the fall sun.  We are always happy to help you select trees that will keep your garden looking beautiful all year round.  If you have a specific color in mind and need some help making a decision, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Japanese Maple Ellen, acer palmatum dissectum

 

Topiary Gardens Mid-Spring Newsletter

Here is our 2014-Topiary-Gardens-Mid-Spring-Newsletter

little critters

little critters

As I was watering plants a few weeks ago, I was startled by movement under the bark in one of the container boxed maples. I didn’t want to move in too quick unless it was something that would jump out at me like a rat. As I moved closer, I noticed the fur looked like rabbit fur and sure enough, there under the bark were five little baby bunnies. They were so cute. I try to keep bunnies out of the maples because they just love to chew them. My mother wants them out of the gardens because they chew everything they find especially her favorite, oriental and asiatic lilies, in which she anticipates seeing them every year. This year, she had quite a time keeping the rabbits away from them. Anyways, I couldn’t kill the bunnies, how could I. I can’t even kill a spider that lives in the house. I have to move it outside.

The bunnies are adorable. I’ll let them grow up. Now, they are bouncing around through the containers and in the gardens. I probably will regret it later but I can’t help myself when it comes to animals or insects. They have their own life just like humans. It is just a different life than ours. Humans keep pushing the animals away…….They have to live somewhere………So, if they come here, they are very welcome. bunnies