A Love Affair

I am on a bit of a Japanese Maple kick these days. I blame Loblaws!

They have always been expensive trees to buy and I never once thought about investing in one.  Sure, I thought they were beautiful and I enjoyed seeing them in other people’s gardens.

All photographs taken at Marion Jarvies garden, (not my own, boo hoo).

Last Fathers Day, I started down that slippery slope.  Loblaws had Japanese Maples for sale in two gallon pots for $20.00!!!!!!!!!!

How could I resist? Obviously I couldn’t, so I bought three.

Two of them were ‘Red Dragon’ a red cutleaf variety, and the third ‘Waterfall’ has a green cut leaf.  I put them in pots on my shady terrace in Toronto and enjoyed them all summer.  When winter started approaching, I googled ways to look after them. Margaret Roach one of my favourite garden bloggers, also has Japanese Maples in pots in her garden in upstate New York. She moves them (with a hand truck or dolly) to her barn, where they stay all winter.  I do not have a barn, but I do have a garage, so I thought about this.  But when I was living in Kingston, I used to just bury the plastic growers pot of my ‘Bloodgood’ in the garden. It lived a number of years this way, and when I moved to England, I gave it to my dad.

So last fall, I buried the three plastic pots in my Kitchen Garden and piled a few leaves over top of the pots.  If they did not make it, oh well, I had enjoyed them all summer (and a mighty expensive annual they would be).

This spring they were perfect and I gave myself a major pat on the back. And I had to reward myself, and Loblaws once again led me into temptation.  This year I purchased another ‘Red Dragon’ (what can I say, I love red) and also ‘Butterfly’ a green and white variegated leaf with a bit of pink spring and fall.  This one is not a cut leaf weeper, I was branching out with more of an upright variety.

But there was a Japanese Maple that I had lusted after for many a year. The Coral Bark Maple or ‘Sango Kaku’ was so amazing. The leaves have a red edge on them in the spring, red stems as the leaves turn green in the summer, and the most amazing coral bark all winter.  It is also one of the hardier Japanese Maples.  When I saw it for sale right around my birthday, I knew it was just meant to be.  Not $20, but at only $55 I could not say no.

I thought that it would be easier to photograph the leaves, rather than the whole trees, but the colour is not as great as I would like.  In the top row, we have ‘Red Dragon’ and then also ‘Red Dragon’, however this one is not as red as the first, maybe not as much sun as it is on the other side of the terrace. In the second row, ‘Butterfly’, can you see the tiny bit of pink on the leaf, then ‘Waterfall, and on the end, ‘Sango Kaku’, now in her summer outfit of plain green leaves, but with a lovely strip of red on the stem.

Here you can see (most) of them on our terrace.  In a couple of years I will probably plant them directly in the glazed pots and then will have to follow Margaret Roach’s advice and take them into my garage for the winter, but this year I am going to bury all six in the Kitchen Garden.

Next year, will the love affair continue?


30 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Laurrie said,

    Japanese maples are so elegant and they can be tucked into almost any setting. I like yours on the terrace. I too read about Margaret Roach’s maples in pots and have thought about doing what you’re doing with some nice specimens that can be moved about. Isn’t it fun to find just what you’ve been lusting for on sale!

  2. 3

    Edith Hope said,

    Dearest D, Your Acers on the terrace in Toronto look so very stylish. I think that they work beautifully in glazed pots and do rather like them in a town setting. I do like the red leaved forms but often find that they get burned by wind if not placed in a sheltered setting. For me, as you would expect, I prefer the green cut leaved forms which I regard as very graceful and ornamental.

  3. 5

    Congratulations on your successful love affair Deborah. May it last for years to come and may you enjoy the beauty of Japanese Maples. I love your use of mirrors on your terrace. ;>)

  4. 7

    Kyna said,

    I’ve NEVER seen a Japanese maple selling for less than $70. And even they were just sticks. O_O You got some great deals!

  5. 11

    Great post Deborah! I really love the picture of the leaves, totally frameworthy (hmmm…I’m looking for some new art and since I can’t grow them, would you be so kind as to send me the image?) It’s wonderful that you can keep dig them in, or perhaps put them in the garage for the winter. I have tried it with some cedars that I keep as annuals, but it hasn’t worked out yet….And I have to agree, even inexpensive trees make expensive annuals! 🙂

  6. 13

    kimberly said,

    I’m extremely impressed with your shopping! Nice finds!!! Japanese Maples are so beautiful…elegant actually. They look wonderful on your terrace.

  7. 15

    Rosie said,

    I love Japanese maples too. Mine are in the ground rather than in pots – I was hesitant about putting them in pots incase they didn’t make it through the winter but placing them in the garage would be a perfect idea. I might do that then that means I too can get some new varieties lol.

  8. 17

    Jennifer said,

    I have a thing for Japanese maples as well.

    In the last couple of years, they have gotten way more affordable. Alas, Loblaws as lead me astray as well. Last year I bought a very small tree and I am glad to tell you that it made it through the winter without a great deal of fuss. I did loose a few branches, but after a quick pruning, the tree has carried on quite nicely this summer!

  9. 19

    thevioletfern said,

    Oh you! I have held back on Japanese maples forever and here you are overwintering them so easily and now even purchasing more. And they look fabulous! Thank goodness that Loblaws isn’t near me. I settled with sambucas black lace but what’s the ol’ saying? You should never settle?

  10. 21

    My first garden had a number of Japanese maples, and I still love these trees. Someday, I WILL find a place to put some here that the deer can’t get to! I love your maples on the terrace. They’re such a versatile tree, so many colors and shapes, what’s not to love? I’m sure you will be just as infatuated with them next year as this year 🙂

  11. 23

    Racquel said,

    What a beautiful obsession to have Deborah. 😉

  12. 25

    I really like your seating area. The mirrors help make the space. I too love Japanese Maples, but my rather large cutleaf got girdled two years ago by an animal with really big chompers. It died that summer. I have been mourning the loss since. Good to see you have so many healthy ones. I like your idea of them potted, then moved to the garage. May try that next year.

  13. 26

    debsgarden said,

    Deborah, it is a slippery slope indeed. I love all my japanese maples. I have eleven, not counting seedlings I have potted up to give to friends, and still want more! I hope to plant a coral bark this fall. Your terrace looks like a wonderful retreat. I hope your tress continue to do well!

  14. 27

    dorsetmichael said,

    ah, true love never fades…

  15. 29

    Debbie said,


    I have a love affair with Japanese maples too! I have a coral bark maple and it is simply stunning in the winter, for that matter i nthe spring, summer and fall too. I also have 5 other japanese maples – most dwarf weeping ones, and I just bought a new one called a groundcover maple. I wrote about it on my blog last week, you should stop by and check it out…I’d never even heard of it before so when I saw it I had to buy it. It’s supposed to only grow to @ 18″ tall but spread 8′.

    BTW, I toured Margaret Roach’s garden this spring with a bunch of other landscape designers and saw the infamous maples in pots for myself. They are stunning and quite large, one greets you as you walk up the driveway into her garden proper. As you can imagine, Margaret’s garden is incredible – everywhere you look there are interesting plant combos. And of course Margaret was so kind and generous with her plant knowledge. It was a memorable day.

    • 30

      Debbie, I just got my coral bark this summer, really looking forward to seeing it this winter, I have seen so many fabulous shots of its bark. I read your post on the groundcover maple, very cool.
      Luck you going to Margaret Roach’s garden, I would love to see it.

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