In The Garden Now…..Paper Bark Maple

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Leaves of the Paper Bark Maple

In The Garden Now…..Paper Bark Maple
Paper Bark Maple Tree
Text and photos by Victoria Gilleland

When it comes to color, gardeners like to extend the fall color season for their shrubs and trees for as long as possible. One way to do that is to include plants that gain their fall color at different times during the season. While other maple trees are going through their autumn color cycle in earlier fall, the Paper Bark Maple is holding back to put on its scarlet show later than the rest.   

In addition this tree has a wonderful cinnamon colored exfoliating bark that stands out in the garden year round but especially during the late fall and winter before new green leaves emerge in spring. A tree with such beautiful fall color and showy bark should be situated so that it can be easily viewed from garden paths or from inside the house.

Cinnamon colored exfoliating bark

While it can be difficult to find maples that color up well in shadier gardens, Paper Bark Maple flourishes in part shade and effortlessly adds red to the autumn garden. In my Lake Forest Park garden bright green leaves start to turn red on lower branches first and over several weeks march up the tree as if the color is being wicked through the tree to the top. It’s an interesting phenomenon. These bright red autumn leaves are held on the tree for some time. We usually see their fiery color from the Thanksgiving table as well as much later in the season.

Paper Bark Maple is a slow growing tree that typically reaches a height of 25 feet by 15-20 feet wide. It’s worth watching for a glimpse of this unique tree in the neighborhood or if you have a garden that needs a showy tree with year round interest, think about planting this one. You won’t be disappointed! 

(Botanical Name:  Acer griseum)

Victoria Gilleland is the owner of Cottage Garden Designs, a Garden Design company specializing in Redesign of Residential Gardens, Garden Consultation and Coaching. She has been designing gardens in the northwest for over 20 years.


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