Acer palmatum (Matsumurae Group) 'Chitose-yama' is fabulous all year, with deeply divided leaves changing colour through the seasons from light red in spring, ageing to bronze-green and then in the autumn it catches fire and becomes a mound of intensely red leaves.
At Rosemoor it is planted on both sides of the lake, taking full advantage of the water; the reflected colours create a striking effect. Acers enjoy a sheltered spot with a cool root run and some shade so the lake area is an ideal situation. The falling leaves of surrounding trees and shrubs help to create a humus-rich woodland environment much appreciated by this genus. However, as these plants are right on the edge of the lake, they still get plenty of sun; essential for intense autumn colour.
To enhance the autumnal drama of the lake area, associated planting includes the colourful stems of Cornus, bright strawberry-like fruit of Cornus 'Norman Hadden' and Sorbus sargentiana with clusters of bright red berries. The large leaves of Gunnera manicata and the upright white trunks of birches provide a striking contrast to the small divided leaves and mounded form of the Acer.
A. palmatum 'Chitose-yama' can also be found in Lady Anne’s garden, again in sheltered woodland environments; on the edge of the woodland garden, on Lock’s Trail and just outside the tea rooms. These areas are more closely accessible and are planted with an under storey of woodland perennials such as Arisaema, Epimedium, Trillium and Hosta.
This Acer is a valuable addition to any garden and would make an excellent specimen plant for a small space. It could even be kept in a large pot if given special attention. You do not have to have a wood to grow this plant, only woodland edge conditions; partial shade, humus-rich soil and shelter.
Learn more here about growing Japanese maples.
Read about RHS Garden Rosemoor's woodland garden.