ABIES......
last updated 22/12/2017


ABIES grandis
Aptly named, the Grand Fir from the Pacific Northwest of North America, this is a wonderful tree for long-term effect. The needles are flattened and distinctly white beneath. The foliage emits a pleasant citrus fragrance which makes it a rather splendid choice for Christmas decorations or even trees. I find it so frustrating that these wonderful conifers are all so slow growing when young, so it's definitely worth by-passing the "toddler" stage and planting something a little more mature. I love the mature specimens at Knightshayes Garden in Devon. We are planting a lot of conifers to provide structure and shelter through our new plantings. These Abies, as well as Pinus, will be fabulous in years to come. Large specimens only.

ABIES koreana
If you have the space, plant one of these majestic conifers for posterity (and your grandchildren!) Slow growing but tidy habit, with wonderful white undersides to the needles. Violet-purple cones are a bonus, even on young trees.

ABIES nordmanniana
In recent years, this has become the Christmas tree of choice since it holds its needles for so much longer than more traditional species when cut. However, it's such a shame to sacrifice them every year, and for me they are worthy of planting in their own right for long term pleasure. Large specimens only.

ACER campbellii 'Exuberance'
Acer campbellii has been known in the Himalayas since the nineteenth century, but this delightful American selection from the Flora Wonder(tm) Collection of Buchholz Nursery is much more recent. The species is a lovely medium sized deciduous tree in its own right, with rich green leaves of a similar shape to the well known A. palmatum, and like that species it develops strong orange autumn colour. This selection has the additional attraction of a purple-red blush through the new growth. Expect 3m tall in 10 years. 

ACER campbellii ssp. flabellatum 
This subspecies is generally considered to have particularly impressive autumn colour, being almost pillar box red in colour. Although fundamentally hardy to zone 7, in the light of recent extreme weather patterns, it would be wise to avoid particularly harsh planting sites. 

ACER campbellii 'Rogow' 
The Rogow Arboretum is part of the University of Warsaw in Poland. I have not had the pleasure of visiting it, but it looks to be a wonderful place. It has the advantage of being situated within an area of forest that has been thinned out to accommodate one of most abundant and fascinating collection of trees in Central and Eastern Europe. The potentially harsher climate typical of the area is a great measure of hardiness for the plants thriving there, such as this rather wonderful selection. It is characterised by chocolate coloured young growth, which matures to a rich green before developing wonderful autumn colours. Questions are asked regarding the hardiness of this species, so it certainly bodes well for this one.  

ACER capillipes 'Antoine'
This is an adorable Snakebark maple unlike any other that we grow. Although it has the classical colour combination of silver striping on a purple background, it is the habit that is unique. More shrub like in dimensions, though potentially a miniature tree in habit, its smaller stature is unique and tremendously valuable in a smaller garden. Within its elegant silhouette, growth is tidily upright. I added this to the collection without knowing much about it, but it has rapidly become a firm favourite.
See it growing in the Winter Garden.

  ACER capillipes 'Honey Dew'
As a species, A. capillipes is part of the group loosely known as Snakebark maples in view of their striated bark. This species is Japanese, becoming a smaller, bushy, often multi-stemmed, tree. The olive green bark is marked with narrow vertical white stripes and dotted with small rust-orange coloured spots. For me the bark isn't the most showy in the group, but this particular cultivar has the benefit of spectacular foliage, particularly in the spring. They youngest growth is a rich pinky orange, and it matures through a kaleidoscope of colours including yellow, to green; giving a wonderful contrast through the summer. This colour progression is then reversed in the autumn to give another splendid display. However this is the easiest member of the group to grow, if for no other reason than it is less vigorous. Thus conditions need to be closer to ideal for it to thrive. It will tolerate a more open sunny site if the soil is moisture retentive, but as a rule the protection of a little shade, particularly during the hottest part of the day, is preferable.    

ACER circinatum
The North American Vine Maple is closely related to the well known Japanese species A. palmatum and A. shirasawanum and can be incorporated in the garden in exactly the same way. Naturally a woodlander, it loves a cool root-run and thrives adjacent to a water feature. Sunburn can be a problem in extreme conditions, even on the bark, at any time of year. However, experience here is showing me that provided the soil retains moisture consistently through the year, this (and all the cultivars below) will tolerate a deceptive amount of exposure. Indeed, adequate moisture in summer is necessary to prevent mildew. A densely branched shrub or small tree with relatively large, bright green leaves and surprisingly large flowers. Oddly, it comes into leaf significantly later than its Asiatic brethren which can be both useful and worrying! "Maples of the World" describes it as a "highly recommended, valuable garden plant". The fiery red and orange autumn colours can be quite stunning in a sunny site, or a softer yellow under lower light intensities.

ACER circinatum 'Burgundy Jewel'
Another sublime new cultivar from the USA; unique in the species, with intense purple summer foliage which is held well through the summer. As is usual with this colouring, it will be at its best with good light. However it is important that the soil is adequately moisture retentive otherwise mildew can be a problem on dry soil. Expect 2' in 10 years.

ACER circinatum 'Monroe'
A plant I lusted after for years, and I'm not disappointed. Upright, shrubby habit initially, which then broadens with age. It has deeply incised light green leaves (even more so than A. japonicum 'Aconitifolium'). Predominantly yellow autumn colours may develop some orange. Worthy of a special site, but best in dappled shade. As with all the A. circinatum cultivars, it is important that the soil is adequately moisture retentive otherwise mildew can be a problem on dry soil. 3m.

ACER circinatum 'Pacific Fire'
Imagine the coral bark colour of Acer palmatum 'Sangokaku' combined with the larger leaves and chunkier growth of this species, and the result is a plant with awesome potential. As with so many maples, this is best in a lightly shaded site.
See it planted in our Quarry Garden and Winter Garden.

ACER 'Asian Queen'
We are grateful to Mark Weathington at the JC Raulston Arboretum in North Carolina for sharing this lovely plant. Sometimes classified under Acer palmatum, it is a hybrid with A. circinatum, a relationship that is clear to see in its chunkier branch structure and almost "sticky" young twigs. This selection is distinctly upright in habit, bearing larger bright green leaves through the summer which develop fabulous autumn colours. Both parent species can struggle in hot, sunny conditions so a notable feature of this hybrid is its extreme tolerance of summer heat. Our plant is still young, so I'm very much looking forward to watching it mature.
See it planted on our Gravel Bed.

ACER 'Cobhay Ruby'
This is our own selection here, grown from seed collected from A. circinatum that had been open pollinated by a Japanese Maple. This fusion of East and West in the maple world is not unheard of, but few cultivars are grown. This selection is fabulous! It has a wide tolerance of soil conditions, thriving in moisture retentive soil where the leaves can be huge. As is often the case, growth is upright when young, broadening with age. Young foliage is a rich ruby colour, the intensity of which diminishes through the summer though overtones remain. Autumn colours are spectacular shades of orange.
See it planted in our Maple Glade.

ACER 'Red Wings' 
This sturdy grower is also a hybrid between Acer palmatum and Acer circinatum. Whilst retaining much of the character of a Japanese Maple, the leaves are larger than is usual for them, and the countenance of the tree chunkier and more robust. The young growth is flushed with purple before turning dark green for the summer. Autumn colours are wonderful shades of reddish orange. However, the most notable feature of this splendid small tree are the bright red winged seeds that contrast so well with the foliage for much of the season.
See it planted in our Maple Glade

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