small maples

Eau Claire, WI(Zone 4a)

Greetings. Are those of you in the Midwest looking forward to the artic blast set to hit us this weekend? Our projected high temp on Sunday is -8F. Yes, that is correct, a high of -8F. I think even Packer fans are happy they'll be playing in Arizona this weekend. I wish I had tickets...

One way of getting through a polar plunge is to think about planting trees. I've got an open site in the backyard that is begging for a small tree. This area is well-watered and in full sun from about 9am-3pm, where it then moves into partial shade. It would be near a very large Quercus ellipsoidalis to the east, which does filter out early morning sun. There's a yard/patio area between the planting site and house, which is to the west. We have a 1-story home, so it doesn't block out sun until late afternoon. I'm looking for a small, slow growing tree to plant here.

A few small maples I'm considering are A. griseum x pseudoplatanus, A. pseudoplatanus 'Brilliantissimum', and A. carpinifolium. These are very, very uncommon trees in this area, which is part of their allure. Any experience or thoughts on these trees?

Northumberland, United Kingdom(Zone 9a)

I'd be very dubious about their ability to survive your arctic blasts!

There's always Acer ginnala to fall back on, tho' it has invasive potential in your area I'd guess.


Eau Claire, WI(Zone 4a)

Of the two species, which one would you guess to be the most cold hardy? Has anyone ever seen a wild A. carpinifolium? I'm guessing no. I, unfortunately, am not well traveled and have never seen either in the wild.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Hi. Just noticed this.

I am on my second acer griseum. I found them potted at Milaegers in Racine in 1999 ago - for $35. About 5 feet tall. Single stem. They couldn't sell them, so I got one for $17.50. Wow, what a tree. I had a single stem, and I read that it grows only four inches a year, but I found it grew much faster, and has the capacity to grow at twice that rate if you keep it decently watered and fertilized.

Here it is ten years later, in 2009, in the first two pictures. The third picture is in the fall of 2008.

I was so sad at leaving it behind I bought a new one, a multistem (both are great!) for $328 - about 8 feet tall. I have seen ones the size of my new one for three times that price. Both the multistem and single stem are great. There is a claim (I think by Michael Dirr) that no two of these trees is the same. It's zone 4, and the exfoliating bark begins at a very young age. It ignored winters here where the temps reached 40 below.

I highly, highly, highly recommend it. Dirr says that if it were more widely available, it would be in every garden. I don't know about that - I never see them. They are expensive because they are extremely difficult to propagate and grow slowly, although as you can see from my ten years of growth that it's not necessarily the case, and I have noticed in some publications that if you care for them they grow much faster.

Thumbnail by DonnaMack Thumbnail by DonnaMack Thumbnail by DonnaMack
Eau Claire, WI(Zone 4a)

Donna, I'm not too surprised you've been able to grow Paperbark Maple in greater Chicago, but I'm skeptical you've experienced -40F. Are you sure that wasn't factoring in wind? Since 1900, the coldest air we've experienced here in Eau Claire, which is about 200 miles north, was -36F. In any case, I envy your ability to grow the species.

I've tried A. griseum a couple of times and both failed. It'll grow on nicely for a few years, but then a severe cold snap will damage it. It seems to be hardy to about -25F, but will suffer extensive dieback if it gets below that. I've looked at a few in Minneapolis-St Paul, and they all seem to suffer the same fate. I was thinking the pseudoplatanus lineage would give it a bit more hardiness. This is debatable.

Hornbeam Maple is the one I'd really like to get my hands on one. I'm pretty sure I'd have to do mail order since they are very, very scarce in the nursery trade. Several years ago I found the cultivar 'Esveld Select' at a Duluth, MN, nursery that is unfortunately no longer open. It died after the first winter, but it was a small, weak looking plant that should've been held back a year or two before planting out. It's the only the Hornbeam Maple I've ever seen at a nursery. BTW, there's a really nice specimen at Tyler Arb in the Philadelphia area

Resin, Amur Maple has shown invasive tendencies, but not nearly as bad as something like Rhamnus cathartica. It's an extremely common tree in these parts, with nurseries producing them by the gazillions. I'm looking for that magical small tree that is uncommon, disease resistant, dapper, bird friendly, and provides four seasons of interest. It has to be out there! BTW, I'll be visiting your neck of the woods this summer. We're flying into Manchester and then working our way to Edinburgh. The plan is to visit RBG in Edinburgh, Dawyck, and Benmore. We're visiting in June and hopefully the weather cooperates.

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

Just waking up from a long winter's nap, so forgive the crustiness of comments - no personal animosity should be assumed or implied.

Where in the world would one believe that Acer carpinifolium possesses four seasons of interest (in the eye-catching sense)? Dapper and uncommon I could understand. Bird friendly = Zero, unless you count that it has branches to land on and build a nest in.

For all its descriptions, I don't know that at ten paces you would tell the difference between this current eye candy and the stalwart native with a stouter constitution -Carpinus caroliniana.

Should you find the maple, do an experiment and plant both at the same time. Worst that could happen is that you achieve success with two fine plants, and may decide to edit one out. If the Hornbeam Maple fails, you still will have its twin. There have been some rather stellar selections (from Wisconsin) made of Musclewood.

Hornbeam Maple graced (OK, tolerated) the landscape and environment here at the Valley for 6-8 years. My photo records begin in 2006 and end in 2010, which means I probably planted it skeptically in 2004 or 2005 after being gifted it from that lousy plantsman from Louisville who has a neighborhood arboretum. I contributed images to the PlantFiles entry here at DG, and a friend from Cincinnati had submitted several as well. In my never-to-be-too-humble opinion (what's that? IMNTBTHO), those kinds of images are about its zenith of effect. Dirr doesn't offer much to elevate expectations (fall color of rich gold and brown; smooth gray bark; greenish flowers). van Gelderen's Maples of the World doesn't even offer a JRP van Hoey Smith photo of this species.

I suppose seeing a fine specimen in arboreta gets juices flowing - sure has in me, many times. That doesn't always overcome further evaluations and considerations.

Rather than rub salt, I'd ask what species you already have; which you've tried and given up on; and which you consider not "up to snuff" for this presumably prime location. Goodness knows we've had these discussions many times here before, and it is the stuff of great winter conversation, ridicule, inspiration, debate, and resolution.

Makes me want to go digging around in the archives again, and resurrect some Lazarus letters...

Thumbnail by ViburnumValley Thumbnail by ViburnumValley Thumbnail by ViburnumValley Thumbnail by ViburnumValley Thumbnail by ViburnumValley
Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Pseudo, you are absolutely right that I am factoring in the wind. The coldest temperature I have personally experienced outdoors was the day I was, like an idiot, running in a -43 wind chill along the lakefront, trying to use high rises on Lake Shore Drive as shelter. -38 I had successfully done a few days before - I was younger and dumber then.

You are right - it's personal experience. I had five fabulous viburnum plicatum tomentosum 'Lanarth' shrubs that were rated for my 5a zone that did beautifully for years until one winter that killed them all. I actually ended up replacing two of them with a huge rose - David Austin's Constance Spry, which is rated for zone four. Undaunted, I have four viburnum plicatum tomentosum 'Pink Beauty' in the yard, but the location is sheltered, and I acquired them from Plant and Gnome for $10 each. The Lanarth's were five gallons from Forest Farm (ouch, the expense).

And my previous acer griseum faced east and got morning sun. This one faces south. The actual experience that you have had trumps any statistic.

I am truly sorry that you cannot grow one. I love to zone bend. I have abelias that are zone 6 that I simply dig up and put in a south facing area of my living room. I learned the hard way that, left outdoors, they curl up their little feet and die even in a mild one of our winters. They have a very small root ball, and actually stay green all winter, blooming in December. But you can hardly dig up and tree and bring it in.

I have been to Duluth several times (Grandma's Marathon - wonderful city, great people, really gorgeous fit policemen directing traffic). It always fascinated me that the lilacs bloomed in July. Kind of indicative of the cold up there!

Northumberland, United Kingdom(Zone 9a)

Quote from Pseudo :
BTW, I'll be visiting your neck of the woods this summer. We're flying into Manchester and then working our way to Edinburgh. The plan is to visit RBG in Edinburgh, Dawyck, and Benmore. We're visiting in June and hopefully the weather cooperates.

That sounds nice! A good time of year, as you get the full benefit of the long days in the north (sunrise at 4 a.m., sunset at 10 p.m.:-)) . Any queries, let me know and I'll see if I can help.


Eau Claire, WI(Zone 4a)

Can you feel my pain? One of the better football games I've ever watched.

John, do you really think I'd be without the native Hornbeam? I've got a couple growing here, but you may still have a point. ;) BTW, I was going to use the quote function, but realized I would be pretty much using your entire post. Well played.

Donna, bringing up V. plicatum is just rubbing it in. This and Paperbark Maple are in in the same file. The question becomes how many times do we repeat failure with an exotic that is trying to tell us something? I have accepted that I will just have to appreciate these two from a distance.

Resin, thank you. We're staying within Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, so I'm a hoping we see a magnificent display. Even if we don't, I am so excited to be seeing this part of the world. I don't know if you like trip consulting, but I will most likely be picking your brain for places to see. The Trossachs?? How about Puck's Glen?? You might be sick of me before this is all over. ;)

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

The replacement issue is entirely one we all have to think about. There is the time issue, and then there is the cost. I hear you.

But one thing I learned is not to entirely trust even a great website like Forest Farm and the brilliance of Michael Dirr. I put in five 5 gallon Lanarth's from Forest Farm - I think you have a pretty good idea how much that cost! Here are three of them in September of 2006. They were tremendous for privacy and trespassing. Except kids hid behind them and moved my rocks around. I realized, with the loss, that perhaps they were too good for privacy.

I actually replaced them with two extremely pretty and long blooming roses that grew horizontally. The second pic is the same location as the first. The virtue of this rose is that it is horrible thorny and was even better for trespassing - the thorns will rip your ankles off, which eliminated the trespassing and mild vandalism, the rose blooms April to November, has a fabulous scent and is zone 4 hardy. That 2 roses - The arbor in the rear and the Knockouts belong to my neighbor. Heck of a lot cheaper.

The other two doublefiles were replaced by a single rose - David Austin's first - Constance Spry, on the left. It's huge - that is one rose. It mounds high and wide, is zone four hardy. That's ONE rose. And it got that big in three years. The three roses cost less than a single doublefile.

The good thing about this is that, after I gnashed my teeth about the loss of my lovely shrubs, I realized that a loss can sometimes be a gain.

I also learned that, if in doubt, go cheap!!!

I got three Viburnum plicatum tomentosum 'Pink Beauty' from Plant and Gnome for $10 each with $10 shipping for all three. $40 bucks! OK! He was concerned about one of them, so sent me a fourth smaller one, which caught up to the other three.

Here they are on arrival in April of 2013 (picture 4).

I put them far enough apart so that they would EVENTUALLY grow together. Here, in the last picture, are two of them this fall. A little more than two years later.

I love them, and if I lost them, at least it won't cost me hundreds of dollars, and I can get them and bring them up to size again.

But there is NO WAY I would put in an expensive and demonstratively delicate tree like acer griseum in your situation. I do hope you can find something that brings you the satisfaction you are seeking, and perhaps someone else can be more helpful without, however inadvertently, dredging up unpleasant memories.


Thumbnail by DonnaMack Thumbnail by DonnaMack Thumbnail by DonnaMack Thumbnail by DonnaMack Thumbnail by DonnaMack
Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

We had a date night (Greek) and watched Moonstruck - totally missed the Packers. Don't tell my mom...

I couldn't recall Hornbeam discussions past - and it is only because it has such similar attributes (along with potential red/orange fall color) that I suggested it. Which leads to the prompt to list more considerations, lessons learned, and whimsies.

Instead of "I can't have THAT viburnum", I say indulge in all those that you CAN - which is many that you've never tried, and many that we can't do well down here because our summers are too long, hot, and humid. In that batch are the early spring fragrance of Viburnum farreri, later spring floral shows of Viburnum trilobum, Viburnum mongolicum and hybrids, and all the range of the Viburnum dentatum allies. I bet 40 taxa is not hyperbole, and the flower/fruit/foliage/form would light up any northern landscape.

Your portending travels to the UK are intriguing. My one venture there was in 1997 as part of my last student trip, and we ranged from London to Inverewe Gardens over a two week period. Stirling, Edinburgh, and York were stops that fell along the corridor you are investigating. Don't miss historical opportunities during the indulgence in high-end horticulture. Marianne and I expect to travel there in the future, and that intent is buttressed by extensive descriptions from her brother about how much they've enjoyed a series of forays to the Edinburgh area.

The Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty demands consideration. I'd throw in a vote for Fountains Abbey at Studley Royal, too.

Eau Claire, WI(Zone 4a)

Quote from ViburnumValley :
Instead of "I can't have THAT viburnum", I say indulge in all those that you CAN...[/quote]
[quote="ViburnumValley"]We had a date night (Greek) and watched Moonstruck - totally missed the Packers. Don't tell my mom...

We too had a date night: craft beer, pizza, and football. Romance Wisconsin style.

Good point. I am evolving as a gardener and while I still get sidetracked with exotic novelties, I am coming around to the idea of using plants that will thrive in the garden I have, not the one I wish I had. Maybe a better option for this site would be a tree form V. prunifolium. BTW, thanks for the UK links. I'll investigate them closer.

Donna, thank you for sharing photos of your garden. very nice. How long have you been gardening there? BTW, I'm not able to post photos on this computer, but can with the ipad. I much prefer working on the older desktop model, but will try to post a photo of the site I'm looking to plant a small tree.

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Pseudo, at least your team will be playing again next year. Ours seems to have slunk out of town ... dirty scoundrels!

Eau Claire, WI(Zone 4a)

Agreed. The Packers have been a publicly owned, non-profit corporation since August 18, 1923. Does anyone believe they'd still be in Green Bay if it was any other way?

Northumberland, United Kingdom(Zone 9a)

Quote from Pseudo :
Resin, thank you. We're staying within Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, so I'm a hoping we see a magnificent display. Even if we don't, I am so excited to be seeing this part of the world. I don't know if you like trip consulting, but I will most likely be picking your brain for places to see. The Trossachs?? How about Puck's Glen?? You might be sick of me before this is all over. ;)

You're welcome! You might get lucky at the 'dark sky' park with a clear night, but it's cloudy there most of the time (being at 250-300 metres altitude, nearly cloud forest habitat :-)), tho' the sky doesn't get properly dark at that time of year anyway.

Not been to the Trossachs or Puck's Glen, but they should be pleasant (if likely rainy!!). If you want to see tall trees though, there's better places, including Benmore, but the best is Moniack Glen between Inverness and Beauly (a valley filled with 60-65 m tall Douglas-firs); while if you want to see native Scots Pine forests, Speyside around Aviemore / Abernethy / Glenmore is the best; from there, you can also get up Cairngorm to see the high tops (either climb, to have the freedom of the tops, or take the funicular, but only to an enclosed viewing platform or occasional expensive guided tours). Any other particular desiderata?


Eau Claire, WI(Zone 4a)

Mmm, sounds like I should invest in some good rainwear. Is there an accessible and short hike in the dark sky park you'd recommend (max of 5km)? I don't think we'll have time to go all the way up to Speyside and Inverness, but I'm starting to rethink our itinerary. Unfortunately, we also have to spend some time in Liverpool (my spouse is a Beatles fanatic) and the west of Ireland where my nephew is getting married to fine lass. So much to see; so little time.

Northumberland, United Kingdom(Zone 9a)

Yep, plenty of walks around the dark sky park - you can go where you like along forest roads, so long as there's no signs up for forestry operations in progress.


Eau Claire, WI(Zone 4a)

Thanks, Resin. Maybe you could help me out with one more thing: What the hell does wazzock refer to?

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Hi Pseudo,

That is my former home in Lake County, Illinois, cited by Forbes as one of the the worst places to live in the country because of a 29% foreclosure rate, no industry, and a lot of house building that meant that 1 out of every three people in my community was under 18, resulting in a house with less than 2,000 square feet having $11,200 in taxes - plus assessments. Bought in 1998, bailed in 2011.

BUT I learned everything I know about gardening there - at least as much as I learned becoming a master gardener. I was lucky. I was offered a $200 "landscape consultation" which I took mostly because it meant that they could not install anything in my yard without my permission (I didn't want to be the hundredth person with the current favorite red maple) so I asked for a garden based upon ornamental grasses, especially miscanthus. The garden designer (six hours of her time!) just happened to be a new hire for the firm of Peter Lindsay Schaut, who went on to design Millenium Park in downtown Chicago. Ornamental grasses are their thing. So are ornamental trees, an obsession we shared. So I asked for lilacs and got five around the house, asked for a cornus alternafolia, asked for a crabapple and got two beautiful ones on opposite sides of the house, and most importantly, got great bones because they laid out the structure. They also introdiced me to fothergillas (5 gardenii, when they were very uncommon) 14 bayberries as foundation plants (fantastic) and viburnums, which in Chicago are basic bland species. I went nuts after that, adding a Yoshino cherry, 5 smokebushes (2 cotinus 'Grace' and two 'Nordine Red' amongst them), 'President Lincoln' lilacs - which are immune to mildew, and basically became a plant nut, with mostly reblooming old garden roses, peonies, lilies, alliums, oakleaf hydrangeas, you name it.

Since my community would not allow fences over four feet, I got my privacy from plants. There was a sidewalk along the west side of my house and you can see from this pic what I did to get privacy. By 2006, it was well established. Pic 1.

The next is the view from the alley. I didn't want to be observed, so..Pic 2.

My other issue was a neighbor to the north with a very large house who did not install window coverings for three years. They would sit in their house and stare out their windows at us. It made no sense because they owned the largest home in the community, and had the only four car garage. So, OK, I installed a stack of ornamental shrubs to get some privacy. Pic 3.

And hey, why install a four foot fence when you can get a bunch of discount ornamental grasses and provide a wall during the times of year when people are out on foot? In the fourth picture, the alley, where people would walk up and down and stare, is completely obscured. Pic 4

And then the piece de resistance. Blocking the walkway by the easement with a $400 trellis and a $14 rose - Quadra.

It was fabulous - I could have been naked in the yard without being observed, and surrounded with beautiful things.

My new house gives me far more privacy. I brought some plants with me, mostly divisions, and most of my bulbs, and have been having fun. But I will always miss the crazy plantings at my former home.

Thumbnail by DonnaMack Thumbnail by DonnaMack Thumbnail by DonnaMack Thumbnail by DonnaMack Thumbnail by DonnaMack
Eau Claire, WI(Zone 4a)

I find the evolution of gardens interesting. I'm sure your new home/garden will look splendid in short order. BTW, I wish I could grow a few roses like you've shown, but the deer are relentless with them. I had considered putting up a fence, but we decided to focus on a garden with plants the deer will leave alone. We've had some success, but nothing is full proof.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Pseudo, I hear you. I know what to do about voles, rabbits, chipmunks and squirrels, but NOTHING, I think, truly deters deer.We had them in my old community but only in certain sections. I would see them when I ran, and of course under those circumstances they seem wonderful but I understand that they are the most relentless creatures imaginable. The rest I can handle.

I have 30 plus roses now, and I plant daffs around them, which voles and rabbits avoid because they are poisonous to them and can smell them. I lost 50 lilies in a single winter because I didn't have voles for the first two years and then they discovered them - and they must have been good eatin'. Chipmunks hate Milorganite. There are a couple of roses the rabbits would chew down, but I put hardware cloth around them and that was that. My last problem, which I thought I'd never solve, were squirrels. We didn't have them where I lived, because since it was former farmland, there were no trees (plenty of coyotes, hawks, ducks, opossums, great blue herons (magical!!!) and skunks, though). Squirrels hate freshly ground black pepper, so it's a matter of getting a cheap pepper grinder from a thrift store and giving it a few turns over freshly dug earth for a couple of days. Here we have foxes, and if they aren't the cutest little things I've ever seen I'll eat my hat. They don't co-exist with coyotes, since they go after the same food, and coyotes are bigger, so sadly they kill the foxes. I actually live near the Fox River, and the name is apt. So I take some precautions but I have the freedom to grow pretty much what I like. Shame on me, I take it for granted! Growing old garden roses is such a joy. I find the reblooming ones, although I do have some once bloomers, are magical. Some bloom from April into early December, and I just wish everyone could know how great some of them are, in that they don't get any major disease, bloom their heads off, and smell wonderful.

Here is one of the first roses I ever purchased, so perfect I have two now, because I had one at my old house and it was great. Marchesa Bocchella, also known as Jacques Cartier, French, hybridized in 1832. It's a Portland rose. It's basically what David Austin is trying to do. It blooms from April into December, it is no more that 5 feet tall, it can handle partial shade, the shape of the flowers causes water to flow over the petals, so they don't form yukky balls, gets no disease and smells like heaven. It grows in a vase shape, not sprawly, so you can fit plantt around it.

The first pic is at my new home, where it is surrounded with feverfew tetra strain.

And at my former home with parsley (a GREAT edging plant that attracts beneficial insects and tastes great!) and allium christophii. Gotta work those alliums back in!

Thumbnail by DonnaMack Thumbnail by DonnaMack

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or sign up to post.