Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

My favorite plant in the garden this week is Acer metcalfii

It seems a little strange to me to feature a plant as my favorite when it's so young, but Acer metcalfii continues to delight week after week. The funny thing is, as a stripe-barked maple, you'd think my favorite thing about this tree would be the bark. However, the stripes are only just beginning to develop on the skinny trunk of this sapling. My favorite thing about this tree is the foliage.

The initial flush of leaves on Acer metcalfii was this glossy purplish black. I enjoyed those for several weeks as they lightened toward a dark blackish green.

The new growth that followed the initial flush was an incredible lacquered red. Those change to purple before maturing to green. Now all three colors are present! BTW, the blur in the background is a Schefflera taiwaniana. What a nice bright green blob to contrast with the dark maple leaves.

I purchased this tree last summer from Far Reaches Farms as Acer davidii var. metcalfii. It has since been upgraded to a species in its own right (at least until the taxonomists change it again). I've been so happy with this attractive little tree, and it's only going to improve with age, especially once the trunk gets big enough to really show off its stripes. I'm so glad I bought one last year when they were still in stock, and way less than the $100 they were marked up to afterwards.

The stats on Acer metcalfii, borrowed from Far Reaches website:
  • USDA hardiness zone: 7a
  • Mature size: 30' or more
  • Sun to part sun (protection from afternoon sun, especially the trunk, is good for stripe-bark maples in general)
  • Average to moist soil
  • So far appears to be clay tolerant, since the soil it's growing in in my garden has a lot of clay.

My favorite plant is hosted by Loree of Danger Garden. Check in at the end of the month for a round-up of her favorite plants in the garden and check the comments for favorites of other bloggers.

With my energy back, I've been busily (obsessively) surfing websites seeking inspiration for my various project areas, mainly the driveway island. Rather than drawing up a plan, I've simply been assembling photos of the plants I want on a Pinterest board. Some of them are just ideas while others are definitely going in, if they aren't growing there already. I may decide to draw up a plan later, but for now I'm just playing with ideas. With summer heat officially here, I'm going to try not to plant or move anything until fall. Instead I'll be (hopefully) touring other gardens for inspiration. If I try to go to nurseries for inspiration I usually end up bringing plants home.

11 comments:

  1. I need to stop going to nurseries now too. I went to several over the weekend and of course came home with plants which it is now too hot to put in the ground. I've used Pinterest that same way, to amass inspiration when putting beds together, like my Gravel Garden. It's perfect for that kind of thing. What an interesting maple! The foliage reminds me of one of those dark-leaf ninebarks.

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    1. I brought plants home today. Oops. I say I'm going to stop, but we all know I won't. ;) I was never one to cut pictures out of magazines or print them out and assemble them into idea books or the like. Pinterest is a much better alternative.

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  3. Like Alison, I've far too many plants from all of those nursery visits but unlike both of you I'll stupidly continue planting. The pot ghetto is full and now the patio table and chairs are covered. If you have to water pots every day, why not just throw them in the ground and water the plants there? (My logic, I'm sticking to it!) Thought of you on Saturday when we were at Windcliff. Those gorgeous Davidia involucrata ‘Tricolor’ were still there but have been marked down to $75.00! Now where am I going to find space for that? Your Acer metcalfii has gorgeous foliage!

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    1. Oh, I say I'm going to stop, but I know I'll keep falling off the wagon. You have so much shade that it's easier to get away with summer planting. I have a big yard and it's hard lugging water to all the places I've already planted, much less all the places I'd like to plant, which are all in nearly full sun. I like your logic! I do that sometimes. But in full sun the root disturbance involved in planting can be enough to turn a plant crispy when the weather is hot. So those Davidia have a name now! I

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  4. Love the deep colour of the new leaves, definite beauty!

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  5. Fabulous in all stages and, as you say, will only get better with time. Great choice!

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    1. Thanks, Ricki! I love stripe-bark maples. So glad this is my first one.

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  6. That is a magnificent Acer! I use Pinterest as a bulletin/idea board too, not that it stops me from running amok when I get into an actual nursery. I keep saying I'm going to steer clear of them until fall but, if I'm honest with myself, I know it's unlikely...

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    1. Oh, I'll go off-plan when I get to an actual nursery, too. Sometimes you see something that you didn't think of before and it just fits perfectly. Alison, you, and me should be more like Peter and not even pretend that we're going to abstain until fall.

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