The glorious fall foliage of full moon maple (Acer shirasawanum) 'Autumn Moon' isn't this tree's only plus. In spring, the new leaves emerge red before turning the tree's summer color of light green tinged with a slight red-orange blush.
A wall of Devonshire limestone encloses the garden, emulating the shape of a traditional Tansu chest. The treasure within is just as extraordinary, with sculpted pine trees, rare Japanese Maples and a hedge of weeping cherries enlivening the landscape.
A vibrant red Japanese Maple makes a big statement in this traditional garden. A hedge of ficus nitida lines the fence and is underplanted with soft and colorful textures like euphorbia, Chinese Lanterns, Hebe and Achillea.
Inside the home's front flowerbeds, designers added copper plated, raised planters that house Japanese maple trees that stand sentry on either side of the home's front entrance, adding height and dimension to the outdoor design.
The maple tree family is a large one, and it includes trees of all shapes and sizes. From broad and spreading Norway maples, to columnar red maples, to short and shrubby ‘Emerald Elf’ amur maple, you can find a maple to fit any planting need. Japanese maples are probably the best known members of the family, but we’re inviting you to meet other members of the clan. If you’re in the market for a tree, consider a maple. You won’t be disappointed.
Sugar maples (Acer saccharum) are native trees, making up much of the U.S. hardwood forest along the East Coast. As the name suggests, this is the maple that is tapped to release sap, which can be boiled down to make maple syrup. In addition to their sweet sap, sugar maples are famous for their stunning fall color. This maple makes a good shade tree. If planted in a row, it can form an elegant allee and effective windbreak. This grouping shows Fall Fiesta sugar maple (Acer saccharum ‘Bailsta’), which boasts strong, rapid growth and a rounded form. Leaves resist summer heat, wind and drought. Sugar maple trees grow 60 to 75 feet tall and up to 30 to 40 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 3-8.
First Editions Matador maple is a type of freeman maple (Acer x freemanii ‘Bailston’). The freeman maple is actually a hybrid of a red maple (Acer rubrum) and silver maple (Acer saccharinum). It displays the best of both parents: fast growth but with a solid structure, good fall color and adaptability. Matador maple unfurls bright green leaves in spring that turn deep red in autumn. Leaves hang on the tree longer than other freeman maple varieties, providing a long show of fall color. This is an adaptable tree, growing well on a home lawn or in an urban setting. Expect trees to grow 40 to 45 feet tall and 20 to 40 feet wide in ideal conditions. Hardy in Zones 4-7.
Norway maple (Acer platanoides) is the ultimate shade tree, forming a dense crown thanks to leaves that grow up to 7 inches across. In fall, leaves shift to hues of yellow and gold. Give it plenty of space, because it spreads up to 50 feet. The form of this maple is a classic lollipop shape—a strong, straight trunk topped with a rounded leaf canopy. Norway maple tolerates urban conditions, but avoid planting it near driveways or sidewalks, because shallow roots can lift concrete. Trees grow 50 to 60 feet tall and 40 to 50 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-7.
Just because you have a small yard doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the fall color of a sugar maple. Look for this beauty: Apollo maple (Acer saccharum ‘Barrett Cole’). Apollo grows tall but not wide, making it the perfect choice for small urban yards or a side yard garden. The tree forms a pillar covered in classic green maple leaves all season long that fade to blazing hues of orange, gold and red in fall. This maple makes a good choice for a street planting or along a driveway, where its branches won’t block the view. Trees grow at least 25 feet tall and just 10 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-7.
A native maple, Pennsylvania striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum) thrives in hardwood forests as an understory plant, a plant that grows best in the shade of tall trees. In your own yard, tuck striped maple into a spot with light to full shade. As the name hints, the bark on this maple features white stripes. Leaves have a trio of strongly pointed lobes, which give rise to another common name: goosefoot maple. This plant is also known as moosewood, because it’s a favorite food of moose (and deer). Fall color is vibrant yellow. Striped maple is the perfect addition to native planting designs or a wildlife garden. It thrives in moist, well-drained soil on the acidic side. Trees grow 15 to 25 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 3-7.
If you don’t have room for a 50- to 100-foot tree, check out Hot Wings maple. It’s a type of tartarian maple (Acer tartaricum ‘GarAnn’) discovered and developed in Colorado, which means it tolerates dry, alkaline conditions. Trees open typical small, yellow maple flowers in spring after leaves appear. Flowers fade to form bright red seeds (helicopters) in summer, which contrast brilliantly with the green leaves. Fall color features shades of orange-red and yellow. This is more of a spreading maple that can be grown as a shrub or small tree. Expect trees to grow 20 to 25 feet tall and 18 to 20 feet wide in ideal conditions. At higher elevations, Hot Wings grows 15 to 18 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 3-10.
For a good shade tree, it’s tough to beat Norway maple, unless you’re planting variegated Norway maple (Acer platanoides ‘Variegatum’). The green leaves with white edges brighten the landscape all season long. In fall, leaves shift to gold tones. Norway maple tolerates urban pollutants, but avoid planting it near driveways or sidewalks, because shallow roots can lift concrete. Trees grow 50 to 60 feet tall and 40 to 50 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-7.
A good xeriscape plant, ‘Embers’ amur maple (Acer ginnala ‘Embers’) turns fall into a season of blazing reds. Amur maple is easy to grow and tough as nails, withstanding hard winters with ease. Seeds form in summer and are a bright red that contrasts strikingly with the green leaves. Trees grow 15 to 20 feet tall and up to 15 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 3-7. Amur maple is considered invasive in some areas. Check with your local extension office before planting this tree.
Red maple (Acer rubrum) is beloved for its red flowers that blanket the tree in spring, opening before leaves appear. Summer leaf color is a steady green. Autumn triggers a color show with varying shades of red, from brilliant to deep burgundy. ‘Autumn Spire’ red maple is an upright, narrow accent tree that embodies the traditional beauty of red maple in a size that fits any yard. Trees grow 50 feet tall and 20 to 25 feet wide. They’re drought tolerant once established and also withstand flooding. Developed by the University of Minnesota, this maple holds its own where winter thermometer readings linger below zero. Expect trees to live 80 to 100 years. Hardy in Zones 3-6.
Hedge maple is a versatile tree. Use it alone as a pretty shade tree, or arrange plants side by side to form a hedge. First Editions Jade Patina hedge maple (Acer campestre ‘Baillee’) has an unusual leaf form that’s eye-catching. Jade Patina withstands pruning well and tolerates dry soils and salt, which makes it a good choice for planting beside roads or driveways. Fall color is a yellow shade. Trees grow 20 to 35 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 5-7.
The famous fall color of New England owes its reputation to sugar maples (Acer saccharum). Fall Fiesta sugar maple was introduced in 1987. Its fall color features more oranges and reds than other sugar maples. This selection also boasts strong winter hardiness, with a trunk that’s resistant to sunscald and frost cracks, conditions that can occur during cold winters. Give trees a sunny spot in moist, well-drained soil that’s slightly acidic. Trees grow 50 to 75 feet tall and up to 50 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 3-7.
Traditional wisdom calls for fertilizing trees in early spring, if needed, but some research indicates that fall may be a better time. Wait a month after the first hard frost to feed; fertilizing while the temperatures are still warm and the tree is actively growing may lead to new growth that is killed back. For best results, test your soil and ask your local county extension agent for advice on what kind of fertilizer and how much to use.