The Japanese maples are my favorite companion trees to plant with conifers. With hundreds of cultivars available that vary in size from very dwarf small trees to large shade providers and in colors from spring to fall that appear to have been picked out of a rainbow, they are nearly as versatile as conifers. The month of May is a big one for conifers. Some will begin their spring flush of new growth in April, but in May—BAM!—they all explode in their new foliar glory. April on the other hand, will see an explosion of color from the Japanese maples.
One of the most spectacular, most intensely colorful spring shows is put on by Acer palmatum ‘Orange Dream.’ This delightful small tree’s orange new foliage color in spring is a sight to behold. With a background of dark green and blue conifers, the color is so stunning; I find that I need sunglasses whenever I’m near it in the spring. A very tidy small tree, ‘Orange Dream’ grows just a few inches a year and will remain manageable in smaller gardens for many years. It is also very adaptable to being grown in containers for the patio or deck. I’ve planted mine where it will receive ample morning sunlight while providing afternoon shade. In summer, the tender bright orange leaves can sunburn so I may try growing a second one in a container. That way, I could move the plant around a little if it was getting too much sun.
I’ll tell you, the color is so intense and exciting; it’s worth a little extra effort to grow this beauty. And right now I wait in anticipation of the awakening of my ‘Orange Dream.’
Many thanks to Iseli Nursery for the photo links!