WHY YOU SHOULD PLANT IT
Japanese maples offer so much varying garden value (volume, scale, colour) that all spaces should include them (or have one in a container where it's too cold). This one - Acer shirasawanum 'Autumn Moon' - is a beauty: Its orange-tinged acid-yellow foliage becomes more intense over time, culminating in a blazing copper-orange in fall.
WHERE TO PLANT IT
Japanese maples are tougher than they look but happiest as edge plants accompanied by other trees, so don't stick one in the middle of the lawn and make it compete with grass and the roots of older city trees. Use lots of humus-y soil, make sure it's well drained (although this one can sit in water for six weeks and won't complain) and keep it out of the hot noon and late-day sun. In general, Japanese maples should be well watered, especially in spring. And while many of them have seen their leaves fried during this difficult summer season, don't worry: The foliage will be back just as gorgeous as ever next year.
WHAT IT OFFERS
There are so many different kinds of Japanese maples that you can find one for every design concept possible. Although they should be part of an integrated landscape, place them where the delicate tracery of the foliage can be appreciated. The trees work well with other plants from Japan and with our own native plants in a satisfying way. Plant with a species like Ontario's Chiononanthus virginicus and you've got an astounding combination.
SOURCE AND COST
Japanese maples such as this one cost $79.99 to $149.99, depending on the size. Canadale Nurseries ( www.canadale.com) has a great selection. Located on Highway 4 just south of St. Thomas, Ont., it's a great facility and well worth a visit.
Visit www.marjorieharris.com for more gardening and plant information.