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Japanese maples: a little history
In spring, the young leaves of the Japanese maple seem to be chiseled by a goldsmith.
In the big maple family, the Japanese maples represent the Asian cousins of the Canadian sugar maples and the sycamore maples that grow on the streets of our cities. In botany, they correspond to the species Acer japonicum, Acer shirasawanum and especially to the famous Acer palmatum whose name evokes the palm of the hand, in reference to the shape of the leaves. Native to the Japanese archipelago and Korea, they play an essential role in the art of Japanese garden.
In the fall, when they adorn themselves with their scarlet hues, the Japanese gather to admire them. This traditional custom, which is called "momijigari", is reminiscent of the famous "hanami" which consists in contemplating the cherry blossoms. Introduced in Europe around 1820, the Japanese maples seduce by their elegant habit with rounded crown, their very beautiful red barks and their very delicate palmate leaves. Magnificent all year round, resplendent in autumn, in recent years they have become essential in city gardens, where they bring a little Zen spirit from the Japanese.
Today there are many varieties, some of which adapt very well to container growing, which allows them to grow on their terrace, balcony or even their windowsill ...
Japanese maple: planting tips
The Japanese worship their maple trees, and we understand why!
In Bayonne, Maymou nurseries have specialized in the cultivation of Japanese maples for over a century. For Monique Angulo, who took over the family business fifteen years ago, the maple is a magic tree which she speaks with great admiration: "In a garden, the Japanese maple spreads where there is room, it stretches its branches where it can, "she explains." It is always the little savage of the scene, even in the Japanese gardens, very formal, where I have always been intrigued by the fact that the Japanese, who cut everything, let it spread out as it wants. "
How to successfully plant a Japanese maple? Maple loves rich, cool and well-drained soils as well as sunny exposures, provided it is protected from heat stroke and cold winds. Thanks to its space-saving root system, it will thrive in pots on a terrace or balcony, provided it is planted in a well-draining soil, such as a mixture of topsoil and horticultural land. No pruning is necessary, because the Japanese maple prunes itself!
Which are the errors to avoid ? Monique Angulo insists on the fragility of maples to drafts and their low fertilizer needs: "You have to be very careful not to plant the maple in a windy place she explains. It is a tree that likes to be protected, otherwise it is quickly "seized". The second very important advice is to never add too much water or too much fertilizer to the maple trees. It is a frugal, thrifty plant, which requires only little watering and light fertilization in the spring. Finally, in case of hot weather, do not hesitate to water the tree for a long time once a month to cool the soil well. "
Which varieties of Japanese maple to choose?
Red, yellow, pink and light green, each variety of maple has its own color…
All Japanese maples are sumptuous, but not all have the same characteristics! Acer palmatum, the wild variety that is naturally replanted in Japanese forests, has tender green foliage that lasts a very long time.
The purple maples change color just before the fall fireworks, then lose their leaves quickly. The weeping maples have a very beautiful drooping habit, while the 'Orange Dream' hybrid has an amazing golden foliage. The maple 'Shishigashira' surprises with its "crumpled" foliage, the "Sango Kaku" with its coral bark and leaves that change color from month to month.
We also like Acer palmatum atropurpureum, Acer japonicum 'Bloodgood', 'Red Dragon' and Acer japonicum scolopendrifolium. If you cannot choose, all you have to do is collect them…