Tag Archives: Acer japonicum

Selecting Trees for Your Garden

Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium'

Red purple flowers and soft green spring foliage of Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’

This is a good time for selecting trees to provide special interest in your garden. If you plant them now in late winter, they will establish well.  Choose those which have at least two seasons of interest. This can be spring foliage and flowers, autumn colour and winter structure.




Cornus Species

Cornus alternifolia 'Argentea'

Tiered layers of variegated foliage of Cornus alternifolia ‘Argentea’

There are several Cornus varieties which are great – alternifolia ‘Argentea’ has tiered branches with white variegated leaves.  Cornus kousa ‘Venus’ has pale pink long lasting bracts and Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ – the wedding cake tree is spectacular. Underplant them with narcissi, alchemilla and astrantia to have flowers from early spring through summer.



Betula Species

Betula utilis var. jacquemontii

Stunning white bark of Betula utilis var. jacquemontii

Stunning bark and an open habit make birch trees a good choice.  They can be multi-stemmed and perhaps the most used in contemporary gardens is Betula utilis var. jacquemontii for its bright white bark.  Underplant them with contrasting purple bergenias, snowdrops and spring bulbs.





Trachycarpus fortuneii

Large fan leaves of the hardy Chusan Palm

For a tropical feel in a sheltered spot, think about the hardy Chusan palm, Trachycarpus fortuneii which has large fan shaped leaves. It is good in town gardens and here by the sea, it has some protection from the wind provided by phormiums and a rose hedge. After bad winter storms, it gets tattered but recovers again with new shoots from within. The Dwarf fan palm Chaemerops humilis is a good choice for a sunny sheltered border but is frost tender.  Cordylines are great in mild coastal areas and come in a range of reds and greens, starting as small shrubs and growing to a tall cabbage palm tree. A much hardier palm is the Chilean wine palm, Jubaea chilensis with a large trunk and striking large silver green leaves.

Vertical Accents

Juniperus communis 'Hibernica'

Slow growing blue-green Irish juniper provides a strong vertical accent.

Fastigiate or narrow vertical tree forms provide interesting accents to plant borders.  Juniperus scopulorum ‘Skyrocket’, Juniperus communis ‘Hibernica’, and the Italian cyprus, Cupressus sempervirens ‘Green Pencil’ can be used singly or in striking groups.  Japanese yew, Podocarpus macrophyllus and Irish yew,Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata’ are slow growing and can also be used to emphasise gateways and entrances.



Acer Species

Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum'

Rich purple foliage of Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’

For purple foliage, Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’ is hard to beat.  Acer palmatum ‘Shaina’ is a lovely rounded tree with pinkish red foliage. Acer negundo ‘Flamingo’ is a larger tree but can be pollarded to give the best pink-flushed variegated leaves.  For good bark try the snake-barked Acer davidii ‘George Forrest’.

Plant Selections for Autumn Colour

Autumn is a magical season and now in early November there are many plants with leaves, berries, and flowers that display autumn colour at its best.  The autumn light especially illuminates leaves as they turn colour so almost every hour of the day, the plants look different.  Look out now for those that delight you and plant them for next year.

Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’

Autumn colour of Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium'

Fabulous leaves of Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’ in rainbow colours.

Acers of course have wonderful autumn colour. For smaller gardens, Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’ is a fascinating tree.  Its leaves are palmate or hand-shaped with deeply lobed and attractively cut leaves as you can see in the picture here.  The leaves change colour from green with purple-tips through soft purple with flashes of yellow to deepest orange and red.  It has the open fan-shape which is typical of many acers, and enjoys some shade, and neutral to slightly acid, moist but well drained soil. It associates well with azaleas, rhododendron, cornus and camellia. It can also be planted as a specimen tree, and under-planted with bulbs and perennials.

Sorbus hupehensis

Delightful clusters of white berries on Sorbus hupehensis

Clusters of white berries on this Sorbus hupehensis, last well into winter.

The sorbus or rowan family provide great autumn and winter interest with clusters of berries of varying colours. The leaves are pinnate or feather-like with several leaflets that also provide lovely autumn colour.  Birds like red berries the best and leave the white ones to last so choose a species like Sorbus hupehensis, shown left, or Sorbus cashmiriana to keep the berries well into winter.



Kniphofia rooperi

Kniphofia rooperi looks magical in autumn with its striking orange, red and yellow colours.

Kniphofia rooperi looks magical in autumn with its striking shape in orange, red and yellow colours.

Gorgeous candles of orange red flowers appear on Kniphofia rooperi from early to late autumn, providing extra interest in the border very late in the season. The plant is evergreen so its strappy leaves are there throughout and it is a robust and hardy plant. It grows well in moist, well-drained soil in sun or partial shade.




Berberis chinensis

Red fruit clusters in early November cover Berberis chinensis

Striking clusters of pinkish-red fruit cover this Berberis chinensis in autumn.

Seen less often than some of the better known berberis or barberries, Berberis chinensis has rather special clusters of reddish-orange fruits in autumn which follow on from yellow flowers in spring. It is hardy, thorny and grows well on a range of soils including heavy clay. Several berberis have good autumn colour and lovely spring flowers and foliage.



Miscanthus sinensis ‘Emmanuel Lepage’

Beautiful red flower  panicles which fade to a straw colour cover this Miscanthus  from early summer to late autumn

Beautiful red flower panicles which fade to a straw colour cover this Miscanthus from early summer to late autumn.

Many grasses have fantastic florets and seed heads which provide excellent autumn colour.   Miscanthus varieties often produce red panicles when in full sun and ‘Emmanuel Lepage’ produces these in abundance from early summer to late autumn.  It makes an elegant fountain of green grass and each blade has a narrow white stripe. It grows to about 1.2 m and associates well with other grasses and long flowering perennials such as Echinacea and Verbena. In early spring cut it right back before the new seasons growth.



Other Plants for Autumn Colour

Many roses produce flowers well into November and add delicate flower colour in autumn.   Rosa ‘Ballerina’ is a pretty pink example of a long flowering cultivar which looks great as a bush or a standard. The spindle trees Euonymus alatus and Euonymus europaeus have lovely autumn colour and unusual red fruits.  Amelanchier and Cherry trees have some of the best colour and many trees that are beautiful in autumn are equally spectacular in Spring.