Gardening / There’s lots of love for maples

The “wow-factor" maple… some magnificent specimens can be seen growing in Canberra's older suburbs.

The “wow-factor” maple… some magnificent specimens can be seen growing in Canberra’s older suburbs.

COLD-climate, Japanese maples are some of the world’s best loved trees and some magnificent specimens can be seen growing in Canberra’s older suburbs.

The range and variety of Japanese maples is vast, with at least one to suit every type of garden.

To illustrate this, take an internet visit to, the website of a huge nursery at Boskoop in the Netherlands. In its Acetum, as they call it, there are more than 1000 varieties listed with descriptions and photos. One would think this would keep them busy, but this is only one part of their collection of other genera – abelias, rhododendrons, azaleas and many more.

Although only recently available in Australia, the Acer palmatum “Fireglow” has intense, red-coloured leaves that remain this colour all summer, whereas many Japanese maples will show red leaves in spring, then gradually change to various shades of green in summer, followed by brilliant autumn foliage. “Fireglow” was first selected and bred by the Fratelli Gilardelli Nursery near Milan, Italy, and was named in the Netherlands in 1977. Not a tall tree, it is ideal for the smaller garden, growing to about three metres.
THE leaves of Acer palmatum “Oshu beni” open in spring with an orange-red colour, gradually changing to green in summer before turning back to red tones in autumn.

This is the beauty of living in Canberra with these maples giving us three beautiful changes of “clothing” each year.

The “Oshu beni” grows to between three to four metres tall, with a similar spread. Its wide spread is a character of many Japanese maples.

Then there’s the “Villa Taranto”, a maple growing in the magnificent gardens of the villa of the same name on the shores of Lake Maggiore in Italy. It is a smaller-growing variety (to about two metres) and ideal for growing in a container.

I’ve chosen these few varieties because they are available in local garden centres.

Acer “Trompenburg”... Cedric's all-time favourite bred in Rotterdam.

Acer “Trompenburg”… Cedric’s all-time favourite bred in Rotterdam.

MY all-time favourite is Acer palmatum “Trompenburg”, bred at the Trompenburg Arboretum in Rotterdam, where last year I was fortunate to meet up with Gert Fortgens, the breeder of this maple.

I asked to see the original tree from where many thousands of cuttings had been taken.

Alas, I was embarrased to discover it had only recently died and I was taken to see a newly planted specimen about 1.5m tall!

The tree growing in our garden is now about five metres tall and Gert was only too happy to hear of one of his special trees growing in Australia.

  • Check out suitable Japanese maples for bonsai.
  • Maples are unsuitable for new, treeless suburbs subject to hot dry winds.
  • Plant maples where you can see and enjoy them from the house.
  • Feed maples now with certified organic Neutrog “Seamungus”, a combination of seaweed and chook poo.

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