November plant of the month

This flamboyant and full bodied red, with notes of plum is the perfect accompaniment to a cool and crisp autumn day

Acer palmatum 'Osakazuki'Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’ is a popular Japanese maple cultivar, which is considered to be one of the very best maples for red autumn colour. 

Its gracefully-lobed leaves initially emerge a vivid green, later joined by its characteristic winged fruit known as samara.

The green leaves make a beautiful contrast against the red spring flowers and the red fruits in summer. As autumn draws in, its vivid green leaves transform to a warm purple before turning brilliant scarlet.

This maple is made more conspicuous by the fact that it is one of the few deciduous trees with colourful leaves to retain its autumn colour into November by which time the majority of autumn colour has passed.

This small multi-stemmed tree boasts a graceful shape and is available in a range of forms; weeping, dwarf or more spreading forms. Its small size makes it an ideal plant for a small courtyard garden or as a containerised plant.

Japanese maples perform best in acidic, moist but well-drained soils. This shallow-rooting tree can be prone to some leaf scorch in extreme summer heat or windy conditions so, if possible, plant in a sheltered position away from strong winds and full sun.

That said, Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’ is more tolerant of sunny conditions than other Japanese maples, giving you more options on location. This tree has an attractive natural shape and so requires very little pruning. If pruning is required, the timing is critical - it must occur minimally and during the winter months as Japanese maples bleed during other times of the year.

At Harlow Carr the best specimen of ‘Osakazuki’ grows at the bottom of the garden entrance ramp next to an equally impressive Tibetan cherry, with other younger trees dotted along the streamside.

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