Fall for a maple: Brighten up your autumnal backyard with a vibrant acer

  • Nigel Coborn says planting a maple can add autumn appeal to your backyard
  • Most are simple to develop, however A. palmatum and A. japonicum have particular wants
  • UK gardening skilled says they hate wind and can languish in uncovered locations 

Planting a maple can add autumn appeal to your backyard. It does not need to be a towering tree and even a big bush. Maples or acers vary from tiny shrubs to giant forest timber.

With 120 species and lots of extra varieties, there are acers for everybody.

Dwarf Japanese varieties are the prettiest. Their ornamental leaves change color, from spring by way of summer time to autumn.

For bigger areas, there are mid-sized varieties. Some develop tall and slender, others grow to be small timber with elegantly spreading branches.

Striking: A Japanese red maple with its beautiful autumn russet leaves

Hanging: A Japanese purple maple with its lovely autumn russet leaves

All acers have prettily formed leaves, usually lobed however generally deeply reduce, making a lacy impact. Autumn leaf colors can fluctuate from vibrant yellows and orange to scarlet or sultry crimson. Particular options embody distinctive bark and ornamental outlines.

Amongst medium to giant maples, Acer davidii has inexperienced and white striped bark. The leaves of A. davidii Ernest Wilson, flip dazzling orange in autumn. The bark of A. griseum flakes into papery layers.

Maples are charming in lesser methods, too. The 2-winged fruits are fairly earlier than winds twirl them away, spinning like tiny drones. Select with warning, although. Some keep small, rising at glacial pace. Others, corresponding to red-leaved A. rubrum and syrup-yielding, A. saccharinum soar rapidly to twenty m.


The prettiest and most cherished maple is Acer palmatum. Native to Japan, China and Korea, it is variable, even within the wild. So it is not stunning that centuries of cultivation have given us so many types. These differ in leaf-shape, color, progress behavior and stature.

For mid-size gardens upwards, my private favorite is A. palmatum Osakazuki. The autumn leaves flip crimson, then vibrant scarlet earlier than falling. They’re additionally lovely from spring onwards.

A. palmatum Orange Dream makes an enthralling companion. If there’s additional area, yellow-leaved A. shirasawanum Aureum, would provide a mild distinction. For container tradition, dwarf A. palmatum varieties are greatest. A number of the hottest are darkish purple-leaved varieties corresponding to feathery A. p. dissectum Firecracker or Garnet.

Although simple to develop, it is all the time value in search of recommendation from suppliers. Specialists embody hippopotteringmaples.co.uk and acersonline.co.uk.


Most maples are simple to develop. However the preferred, significantly A. palmatum and A. japonicum, have particular wants. Their wild forebears are understorey crops, rising beneath bigger timber in woodland.

They’re totally hardy in our local weather. However they hate wind and can languish in uncovered locations.

Fourteen years in the past, I planted A. japonicum Vitifolium and a purple-leaf hazel on the fringe of our tiny woodland backyard.

The hazel is now a lusty, 4 m coppice with beetroot-colour leaves. The maple is barely 5 m excessive, lopsided and depressing.

I ought to have planted it contained in the wooden or someplace extra sheltered.

Although lime-tolerant, acers like plenty of natural matter. With containerised crops, pots or tubs have to be giant sufficient to permit root-growth.

Pruning is seldom obligatory. However broken branches want consideration. Do this solely between leaf-fall and Christmas. At different occasions, the timber can bleed sap.