Saturday, 28 November 2015

Acers and Meconopsis.

We are now getting plenty of rain but, with the exception of a couple of days, no frost in this remarkable weather year. Not all the leaves have dropped which is a sure indication of the temperature, I wonder what the rest of the winter will bring?
Continuing on my A to Z theme, other than growing dwarf Japanese cultivars, Acers are not a plant you are going to have many of unless you are lucky enough to have a very large garden. I only grow five and last winter I had to prune two of them back hard as they were casting too much shade in my already shady garden. Having decided to write this post a while ago I was prepared to rush out and take some pictures as the leaves started to turn this autumn, I held on too long for the perfect shot against a blue sky which never transpired and before I knew it the leaves had dropped so the pictures are from the last few years.

Although there are well over 100 species of Acer the most familiar are the many cultivars of Acer palmatum and Acer japonicum, which make up the familiar foliage trees we all love.


Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' 2013.
Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' 2015.
Although a little difficult to make out, plus the Acer had put on another years growth by the end of 2014, the 2015 picture shows the tree after it had been reduced by over two thirds without problems, not the recommended third if you prune it at all. Make sure that the tree is truly dormant as Acers will pump sap out at a high rate of knots if in any growth stage, and try and take out the center and any branches which rub together whilst maintaining the overall shape. You do have to have an eye for these things, I am not the slightest bit artistic but I hope I can prune. A visiting tree surgeon actually commented on the shape of the tree without knowing it had been pruned hard...............I was dead chuffed! 


Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood'.

Acer palmatum 'Trompenburg'.

Acer palmatum 'Trompenburg' silhouette.

Acer palmatum 'Trompenburg' colour.

This picture is from a few years ago but shows the autumn colour, this one hasn't been cut back as it is on the boundary of the neighbouring garden, so is now much larger as seen above. 'Trompenburg' has distinctive recurved edges to the leaves and is an excellent colour form.


Acer platanoides 'Crimson King'.
Red leaved cultivar of the Norway Maple, a robust tree which has now become popular for street planting, this was originally bought as a screen tree but having decided that it might eventually just be too big I have banished it to another boundary where I am going to prune it hard without fear or favour to hopefully get the result I want.


Acer palmatum 'Beni schichihenge'.
The most expensive single plant mistake of my horticultural life, I was given this as a present worth £70.00 and planted it in a fairly well prepared hole (for me!) in what I must admit was a fairly damp part of the garden, the following winter was extremely wet the end result was that I lost it, a great shame because unlike most of its fellow cultivars it produces an exceptional spring show. Note: Acers do NOT like their feet in water. 

Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Sango-kaku'.
One of the main stems has decided that it is autumn whilst the other two haven't yet caught up, this happens every year and to be honest I don't know why unless they are two separate grafts and I haven't checked.


Acer palmatum  'Sango-kaku'.
The young stems turn a coral pink and even the older ones retain some of that hue.


Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood'' seedling.

Acer palmatum 'Trompenburg' seedling lifted from the ground.

One of the benefits of the many samara or seed bodies (helicopters) which are produced is that you get the occasional self-seedlings. Although both seedlings above clearly show properties of their parent, the only true cultivars are produced by vegetative propagation, normally grafting, these plants will probably only be recognised as unnamed cultivars of Acer palmatum atropurpureum. Being seedlings they can lack the vigour instilled by a rootstock but nevertheless it always interesting to see what develops. Acer seed is not particularly viable but some results can be obtained by sowing as fresh as possible.

A cautionary tale having just mentioned viability and freshness of seed, as a member of the Meconopsis Group I was sent fresh seed of Meconopsis delavayi which, as I always do, was sown immediately, most Meconopsis and Primula seed being difficult unless absolutely fresh. Autumn sowing plus mild weather equals disaster, the seeds have germinated, I can't leave them outside in the cold tunnel because, hardy as they are, I am not sure they will survive a severe frost, the only solution that presents itself is to try and grow them on in an unheated porch through the winter, we will have to see if this works. 

Meconopsis delavayi seedlings. (notice the re-used pot)
    Another note on viability, the year before last I decided not to grow anything from seed other than some of my own, I succumbed rather late to temptation, and going against all my principles, bought in several lots of Primula seed from a well known and trusted seed merchant, these were cold sown and went through last winter. The results, with fresh society seed I normally get 80-90% germination by species, from the seed merchant 0%. If the supplier was to be questioned about this they would want to know if you have followed the instructions about the temperatures required to germinate the seed, in other words apply heat, the answer is no because if the seed is fresh you don't need it, and I have tried heat before and it still doesn't work. If in doubt don't buy. Why do I still do these stupid things? No answers please!
      

17 comments:

  1. One really wonders about purchased hardy plant seed Rick. Its the same with Cyclamen hederifolium and coum, they germinate like mustard and cress from your own seed but from a commercial source……….?
    I have recently planted quite a large cut leaf maple from a tub - where it was getting too big - into the ground
    Peter Williams tell me that cut leaf maples are much more successful to establish when a large plant goes in.
    Congratulations on the pruning Rick. Like you I am not artistic but fancy I can prune!

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    1. I am sure you are right Roger, the secret with seed is the freshness that is why I now use my own or society seed with the exception of Plant World Seeds and Jelitto whose Golden Nugget range are particularly good, although one may be inclined to think them "gimmicky".

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  2. Could your 'Sango-kaku' be getting more sun on the side that turns red first? I mention it because I have an acer that had always had golden autumn colour until we started tree chopping. This year, in sun, it turned red. It will need pruning too, it was completely surrounded by the trees, plus rhododendrons, before we rescued it. Which is the best month to do it?

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    1. Good point rd, the 'Sango-kaku' is already in the shade of the Cedar so it just might be that that side catches more sun late in the day. The sap needs to be right down so I would always look to mid/end January to prune.

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  3. I also was pretty ruthless when it came to pruning the Acers, Myra would always say, you will ruin the shape, just as in your own experience I found they soon looked good again. One Acer that never required any pruning was the Acer Griseum, wish I had lifted and taken that one with me.

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    1. A great shame about the Acer Griseum Alistair, it is a lovely tree especially with the peeling bark and also so expensive to replace.

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  4. What a treat this post was! I absolutely love Japanese acers and hope to have many here in my new garden. I sadly had to leave a mature palmatum ‘Garnet’, but will start again with a new one as I loved it. I did manage to bring with me Acer palmatum 'Ariadne' as it is still in a pot. There are many acers in your post I would like to have but I will have to choose the smaller ones – no monster trees for me please :-)

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    1. Thanks Helene, I am hoping to add a few dwarf maples in the near future.

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    2. Would be interesting to see which ones you choose – and why. I tend to go for amazing autumn colours first but I also like those that are red all year. I am also looking for some really small ones, one on my wish-list is A. palmatum 'Shaina' but I am trying to find any even smaller, not sure if they exist.

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    3. Hi Helene, I am looking at 'Garnet' as a possibility as it is a true dwarf, in fact you may find that 'Shaina' is slightly larger. I really like 'Aratama' another true dwarf which gives three seasonal colour changes. the trouble with Acers is that even though they are propagated vegetatively it is on such a wide scale that I think some variation must occur.

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    4. Yes I agree, I had my ‘Garnet’ for 11 years, and it was probably a 4 year old specimen when I got it. When I moved it was less than 1m high and only about 1.5m wide – I have seen it described by nurseries as up to 2m x 2.5m. Not easy to choose from description if you are looking for a specific size.
      By the way, Acer palmatum 'Wilson's Pink Dwarf' is also a nice acer, have it on my wish-list :-)

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  5. Your photos are beautiful! I love the rain. :) Warm greetings from Montreal, Canada.

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    1. Thanks Linda, good to hear from you.

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  6. Good luck with those Meconopsis!

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    1. Thanks Jason, I think I will need it!

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  7. I hope the Meconopsis works out, a superb plant. The acer looks great in the garden, it makes the garden look Japanesey.

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    1. Thanks Sue, I have grown quite a few Meconopsis from seed but I have never had this happen before, shows that the weather is remarkably mild for the time of year.

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