Many areas around the country have exploded into spring as evidenced not only by bulbs and early flowering shrubs bursting into bloom, but in some places, the conifers are beginning to push new growth. Here in our mild, yet wet and dark climate, spring is moving along very slowly. Our cold and snowy March did not help the matter any, and may have set our spring back a few weeks. Strolling through my garden, I don’t see any activity among my conifers, and even my earliest Japanese maples, that in the past have broken bud as early as February, are just now beginning to hint at waking up.
I usually think of spring officially arriving in my garden when the majority of Japanese maples are flushing their brightly colored, soft and delicate looking new growth. In past years, I have seen this begin to happen during the last week or so in March, which is followed by an incredible color display through the month of April. By the time the maples have made their glorious announcement that spring may now commence with their arrival, my conifers will begin to pop their buds and my garden will experience another wave of amazing color with their new spring growth throughout the month of May. I wouldn’t be surprised if I witness a little more overlap this year due to our delayed spring weather.
Since March came in like a lion, and since that lion overstayed his visit bringing stormy weather and snow showers all month long, I am hopeful to see it go out like a lamb as we enter the month of April. One thing I can be sure of, the month of April, whether it is dominated by rain or sunshine, it will be the month of the Japanese maple!
There are far too many maples in my garden to try to include them in this blog post, but I do want to mention of few of my favorites for their beautiful spring contributions to the garden. Whether or not you are yet a conifer enthusiast, I know that you will love these maples. Although they are fairly hardy, unfortunately, they aren’t for the gardens of our friends in the most harsh climates around the world.
I’ve asked Mr. Smith to pull together photos of some of my favorite Japanese maples and I am confident that once you see the delightful colors, soft textures and delicate structure of these maples, you’ll be as excited as I am for the month of April.
Acer palmatum ‘Orange Dream’ is one of the early ones to push its new growth in my garden. I devoted a blog entry to it back in 2008 that you may want to revisit now.
Another exciting spring Japanese maple is also one of the oldest cultivars. Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Ever Red’ is a very popular Lace Leaf maple that has been grown in gardens for many, many years. If you have marveled at a huge specimen on an old estate, it is very possible that it was an ‘Ever Red’. One of the distinctive features of ‘Ever Red’ is the silvery-white pubescence covering much of the tiny leaves as they unfurl in spring. This fuzzy feature weathers off by summer leaving rich red leaves that are lightly tinged with green.
Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Viridis’ is commonly known as the Green Lace Leaf maple for its bright green foliage that begins in spring and continues its lively color until autumn when the foliage turns tones of yellow, orange and red.
Acer palmatum ‘Shindeshojo’ may be a mouthful to speak, but it is worth finding and planting in your garden. Its brilliant pinkish red spring color is only rivaled by its amazing autumn hot reds and orange.
Similar to ‘Orange Dream’ in leaf color, Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ is an amazing orange color will that fade to a rich, light green through the summer. Autumn brings a return of yellow and orange tones.
While my conifers are building up energy to explode in all their glory of colorful new growth, I’m happy to have the Japanese maples put on a show during the month of April with their wide assortment of colors, texture and form.
Conifer Lover (and Japanese maples too!)