October 4, 2008

Best of the Bunch ; Gardens

JAPANESE MAPLE (ACER) They are among the jewels of autumn, their delicate leaves changing from green to flaming red, orange and yellow.

There is a place in every garden for a Japanese maple - some will last for years in a pot, while others are better suited growing in the gentle shade of larger trees or over water.

They like some shelter but can grow in any well-drained soil with added organic matter. If you want to grow one in a pot, the container needs to be at least 30cm in diameter and filled with equal parts John Innes No.2 potting compost and a soil-less multipurpose compost. Put crocks in the bottom of the pot for drainage and top-dress the compost with gravel. Japanese maples are much more slow-growing in pots than in the open garden. They will need moving to a bigger pot every few years but need little pruning. Good varieties include: A. palmatum atropurpureum, A. japonicum 'Aconitifolium', and A. palmatum var. dissectum.

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