With some plants, you really have to play the long game. No instant gratification, just planning, and years of waiting. Acer griseum (Japanese maple, also known as the paperbark maple) is probably my favourite autumn-winter tree, for it’s leaf colour, and then the bark, which is a kind of deep golden cinnamon (orange-brown). When the afternoon sun hits the bark, it glows and is truly one of the great beauties of winter.
A. griseum is a very slow growing acer. It comes into leaf later than any other that I’m aware of, but then it keeps its bright scarlet autumn leaves longer, well into November.
My A. griseum is about 5 years old and planted in the front garden. This magnificent one, from the Sheffield Botanical Gardens, must be at least 70 years old, probably much older. As you can see, it glows in the autumn light. It’s what I’m aiming for with my tree. It has a way to go…
Getting up closer to a younger A. griseum in the botanical gardens, you can see the trunk and it’s paper-like bark.
When the winter sun hits, it shimmers a rich warm orange-brown, which you can already begin to see on my young tree.
I placed my tree to the front of the front garden, so that it’s easy to see both from the lounge room window, and from sitting down and viewing it from above in our bedroom. It should capture the autumn-winter light perfectly.
Acer griseum is going to take many years to get to just half the height and breadth as the one in the botanical gardens, but I adore this tree and it’s a highlight of winter; I feel it’s worth playing the long game. I’m going to continue to enjoy the journey.