In the Garden Now…..Seeing Red

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Disanthus cercidifolius Red Bud Hazel

Japanese Maples, Burning Bush, Barberry, and Red Bud Hazel that is!

Text and photos by Victoria Gilleland

There are numerous trees and shrubs with amazing red foliage for us to enjoy in our Pacific Northwest Gardens. Here are a few easy to grow favorites that are looking particularly attractive right now.

Shaina Japanese Maple

The three Japanese Maples featured in this article sport varying shades of red throughout the growing season. Here they are in their Autumn Reds!

‘Shaina Japanese’ Maple is a dwarf tree with small red congested leaves. It grows very slowly eventually reaching 6-8 feet tall and wide. My ‘Shaina’ is 5’ high and 3’ wide after 8 years growing in my garden.

Crimson Queen Japanese Maple

‘Crimson Queen’ Japanese Maple may reach 10‘ high and wide. Mine is growing under Douglas Fir trees competing with roots for water and nutrition. It’s been in place for 5 years and is now about 4’ high and 5’ wide. I expect it to grow very slowly and stay more compact under these difficult growing conditions than might be expected otherwise.

Red Spider Japanese Maple

‘Red Spider’ Japanese Maple has reddish orange finely cut foliage that from a distance looks a lot like bamboo. Close up the individual leaves really do look like Red Spiders! The tree is described as ‘semi-dwarf and upright.’ My tree is a new addition to the garden and is currently growing in a large container. I would expect it to reach 10-12 feet or more in ten years.

Crimson Pygmy Barberry

Three additional red foliage shrubs follow.

Crimson Pygmy Barberry is a deciduous compact prickly plant with small yellow flowers in spring and reddish foliage throughout the growing season. It may be 3’ by 3’ or larger over time.

Red Bud Hazel is a deciduous shrub with heart shaped leaves. One of its finest virtues is that it grows well in dry shade where it produces fabulous fall color. My plant has been growing under a western red cedar for the past 10 years and has stayed a compact 5’ by 5’ with very light pruning. Given more water and better growing conditions experts say it could reach 10’ by 10’ or larger. I’m very happy with my petite version!

Burning Bush

Compact Burning Bush starts spring with fresh new dark green leaves which turn rich red in fall. Give it a sunny spot and it’s very easy to grow. It’s often seen in commercial plantings. This is the ‘Compact’ variety, but it is not a small plant. Compact Burning Bush can easily reach 8’ by 8’. The species may be 15’ by 15’ or larger. Don’t be beguiled by that showy red fall color. These are fast growing large plants! An established plant may be pruned heavily to reduce size overall with no ill effect. But, before either is planted in the garden consider the ultimate size and space available.

I hope you’re seeing at least a little red as you enjoy our glorious fall!

(Note: Thanks to Leanne and Mark Gallison for letting me photograph the beautiful Burning Bush and Red Pygmy Barberry in their garden.)

Botanical Name:
Acer palmatum ‘Shaina Japanese Maple
Acer palmatum ‘Red Spider’ Japanese Maple
Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Crimson Queen’ Japanese Maple
Berberis thunbergia ‘Red Pygmy’ Barberry
Disanthus cercidifolius Red Bud Hazel
Euonymus alata ‘Compacta’ Burning Bush

Victoria Gilleland is the owner of Cottage GardenDesigns, a Garden Design company specializing in Redesign of Residential Gardens, Garden Consultation and Coaching. She has been designing gardens in the northwest for over 25 years.


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