Maples or Acers are wonderful deciduous trees to install in the garden for their many qualities: foliage coloring in spring and fall, remarkable bark in some varieties, varied silhouettes and dimensions… Very hardy, they fit into all garden styles, ideally in partial shade.
According to the different vernacular names of the Acers, we understand the diversity of forms that their foliage takes (ash leaf maple, vine leaf maple, pseudoplatanus maple), their bark (snake skin with grey or red speckles, paper bark…), their bearing (ball maple, country maple, flat maple), or their coloration (red maple, white maple, golden or silver maple)…
Among this vast and fascinating genus, here are 6 remarkable maples, highly ornamental by their foliage, their bearing or their bark that we invite you to discover without further delay!
ACER GRISEUM : THE CINNAMON BARK MAPLE
Also known as the Paper Bark Maple or the Cinnamon Bark Maple, this maple of Chinese origin is a unique tree, indispensable in winter gardens for the remarkable bark it reveals. Of a cinnamon color, exfoliated from rolls gradually reddish brown very bright, it gives the Acer griseum its letters of nobility in the heart of winter. This superb desquamation of the trunk can be observed after a few years, knowing that this tree grows slowly. It has other assets, notably its three-lobed foliage which turns from orange to scarlet in autumn, before falling. Before that, it is a dark green foliage that it displays all summer, with a grey reverse (hence its Latin name griseum). Its trunk generally remains rather short, which gives it a beautiful narrow silhouette with upright branches. It requires a plantation in isolation, or by small group of 3 subjects, in the sun or in light half-shade, to magnify this incredible bark. Note that it prefers acidic and cool but well drained soils. Nectariferous in spring, of medium size, between 4 to 6 m high, the cinnamon maple is a tree with which you can start a collection of remarkable maples!
ACER NEGUNDO ‘VARIEGATUM’ : THE VARIEGATED MAPLE
Maples offer surprisingly diverse foliage, and among the most interesting foliage, because it is extremely bright, the Acer negundo ‘Variegatum’ (or variegated Maple) is a superb variety! It has a remarkable cream variegated foliage on the edge of the leaves, sometimes slightly pink at the beginning of the season. The leaves are rather big (between 5 and 10 cm), composed in 3 to 7 leaflets, slightly toothed, and they take a pretty yellow tint in autumn. This variety produces numerous nectariferous and melliferous flowers in spring, followed by samaras that will remain on the tree for a long time in winter. This maple from the western United States has the advantage of growing quickly, reaching up to 7 m high with an average spread of 4 m. The variegated negundo maple is also interesting because of its ability to grow in any type of soil, even accepting limestone. You reserve a half-shaded or sunny location for it. It is magical planted in isolation on a lawn, lighting up the garden at once.
Other interesting cultivars in the same variegated vein: Acer nengundo ‘Flamingo’ has a surprisingly pink margin, and Acer negundo ‘Aureomarginatum’ has golden yellow stained foliage.
ACER DAVIDII: THE SNAKE-SKIN MAPLE
Here is a second maple whose bark is one of the most beautiful of its kind: the Acer davidii does not go unnoticed in winter with its trunk veined with white stripes. This tree grows up to 15 m high, but it is found in our country in the 6 to 8 m, for a span of 3 to 4 m adult.
The foliage is not in rest, and of singular form for this maple, oval. The leaves are born red and turn to green then evolve sumptuously from yellow to red in autumn. Just like the Cinnamon Maple, its trunk is short, often in a cluster (with multiple trunks), but it takes on a well spread out bearing with time, its crown widening. Native to Yunnan in China, it resists well to frost and wind. It is best planted in mid-shade, which allows it to keep its bark well margined with white.
There are other snakeskin maples just as spectacular in their striated bark: Acer capillipes also often called red speckled maple, because although its color is olive green speckled with white, it will crack with time and vein with brown to red tones, its fall foliage is bright red. Acer pennsilvaticum, also known as the Jasper maple, deserves to be better known with its bark also streaked with large white stripes, and its very bright yellow fall foliage. Finally, Acer rufinerve, also has a very beautiful “snake skin” mottled with gray, rather smooth. It is also called vine-leaved, which turns a superb orange-red color in autumn.
ACER X FREEMANI ‘AUTUMN BLAZE’: FLAMBOYANT!
When it comes to autumn flamboyance, the Maple x freemani ‘Autumn Blaze’ is simply supreme: this hybridization between an Acer rubrum (Canadian red maple) and an Acer saccharinum (silver maple), two species remarkable for the color of their foliage, makes it possible to obtain a tree of great ornamental value. It also has the particularity of keeping its large lobed leaves for a long time in autumn, thus prolonging the enchantment of the show that it provides to the garden! It will take its beautiful colors in neutral to acidic soil, and fresh. Fast-growing, Freeman’s maple has an upright, narrow silhouette in its youth, then it will become rounded, still with its upright branches. You can plant this large and beautiful tree in isolation like the other maples in this selection to take advantage of its appearance, but also in a row along a large garden for example.
You will also be charmed by the Acer tataricum ginnala, which also turns a sublime bright red in autumn, but remains smaller in size.
ACER PLATANOIDES ‘GLOBOSUM’ : THE BALL MAPLE
This more widely spread maple is part of our selection for its ball shape, which is very useful in smaller spaces. The Acer platanoides ‘Globosum’ quickly presents a very rounded branched crown, forming a nice compact ball. It will flatten out a little in time, giving it a very ornamental parasol look. Its foliage remains dark green throughout the summer, then evolves to a golden yellow in the fall. The flat ball maple will be an easy ornamental tree to plant in a medium-sized city garden, as it tolerates urban pollution well, and its shape allows it to be used as a small shade tree. Measuring at maturity 5 to 6 m in all directions, you will of course also adopt it in a larger garden where it will take all its charm in isolation.
ACER PLATANOIDES ‘CRIMSON KING’: THE PURPLE KING WITH GOLDEN FLOWERS
This maple has a remarkable purple foliage, and beautiful autumnal hues. It is mainly for this crimson foliage color that Acer Crimson King finds interest in the garden, bringing a useful dark touch in landscaping, like Prunus cerasifera ‘Pissardii’ or Cotinus. The large palmate leaves are brilliant, turning red and copper orange in autumn, another attraction of this remarkable maple. But long before that in spring, it also has a beautiful bright yellow bloom before the leaves and contrasting beautifully when they appear. Its rather wide habit is also interesting to insert it in medium or large gardens (it will grow up to 12 m high with a spread of about 5-6 m). Fast growing, it will find its place in a sunny exposure in many gardens to which it brings a magnificent contrast and a lot of depth.