The top 10 best acers for your garden
1A. palmatum ‘Osakazuki’ One of the most reliable for autumn colour, turning a brilliant pillar-box red in late October and early November no matter how good or bad the season. One of the faster-growing acers, it may reach 3m in 10 years, but then slows down. Tip: more sun-tolerant than most.
2A. japonicum ‘Vitifolium’ One of the first trees to turn colour in autumn. Its broad fanshaped leaves turn a delightful mix of maroon, red, orange and yellow. Larger than most, it may ultimately reach 10m. Tip: a good tree for the centre of a lawn.
3A. palmatum ‘Dissectum’ Small, slowgrowing, may take 30 years to reach head height. Attractive all year thanks to its sculptural bonsailike branching and bright green finely dissected leaves. In October the foliage is an orange bonfire. Tip: ideal for a pot.
4Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’ This mediumsized acer is one of the most popular. It has deep claret-purple foliage in spring and summer, then in autumn the leaves turn bloodred. Tip: grow with lime-green foliage for an amazing contrast.
5A. palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’ Compact acer, which grows to around 4m tall, has it all. Light green foliage in spring and summer, apricotyellow leaves in autumn and brilliant red twigs in winter. Tip: plant near a window to lift the spirits in winter.
6Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’ One of the most graceful acers, it brings an oriental feel to any garden. Small, open-branched with beautiful aconite-like leaves; in autumn these turn rich marmalade orange to burgundy red. Tip: superb with bamboos.
7 Acer palmatum ‘Shindeshojo’ The most vibrant spring foliage of any acer. Described as coral red, the leaves retain this colouring for most of spring, then turn orange and red in autumn. Tip: plant with whitebarked birches.
8Acer palmatum ‘Seiryu’ Beautiful and slow-growing, this is the only common upright acer with dissected foliage. In autumn its fernlike leaves turn gold marmalade and ‘Dissectum’ is ideal for a container flamingo pink. Tip: its upright habit is perfect for a courtyard.
9Acer palmatum ‘Aureum’ Small, slowgrowing, and elegant; bright lime-yellow leaves from spring until autumn when they turn old-gold. Tip: it zings against a dark evergreen background.
10Acer palmatum ‘Beni-komachi’ One of the best red-leaved dwarf cultivars. The name roughly translates as “beautiful, redhaired little girl”. Each leaf is cut into five narrow lobes, the margins finely toothed. Tip: perfect for a rockery or pot.
‘Vitifolium’ is one of the largest acers
‘Sango-kaku’ lifts the spirits
‘Shindeshojo’ works with birches