Japanese maples are well known and even the ordinary gardener has seen and perhaps grown a red-leaved form, for example. However there is a whole other level to these trees, one filled with rarities and special beauties that have superb qualities in the garden, but for various reasons are rarely seen. One popular large group are the ‘dissectum’ Japanese maples, which have leaves divided into deep lobes almost to the leaf stalk. As well, forms in this group have the lobes further divided into side lobes, so the effect is like fine combs radiating from the centre of the leaf. In the best form there will be 7 or more main lobes, each with many further tiny divisions. This gives a very delicate appearance to the leaves and also the tree, making a unique statement in the garden.
One of the very finest of these already special trees is the Filigree Japanese Maple. Here the leaves are so perfectly divided they do indeed seem like filigree iron-work created by fairies. This tree also belongs to other groups, one the Matsumurae group, where the leaves are divided very deeply, almost to the bottom, and the other the Reticulate group, where the veins are very prominent on the leaf and darker in color than the background. The Filigree Japanese Maple therefore has extraordinary leaves! When they emerge in spring they are a pale green, so pale they are almost white. The leaves are darker green and create a network across the finely-divided leaves. The overall result is stunning, a cloud of delicacy that has to be seen to be believed. The leaves appear flecked with white and gold from a distance, giving the most extraordinary effect. As the season progresses the contrast fades and the leaves become a more uniform soft green, but then in fall they turn glorious shades of yellow and often also brilliant orange, again with the delicacy which this variety is noted for.
Now this foliage alone would be something very worthwhile and special, but it is carried on a tree with a graceful weeping habit, so together it creates a tree that belongs more in a forest for fairies than in the real world. In time this tree will reach 4 to 6 feet in height, and it will cascade down in a broad form becoming in time at least 6 feet wide and often as much as 9 feet across. A mature tree is a thing of staggering beauty and something every gardener would die to have in their garden.
Perhaps surprisingly this tree is not very particular about soil, thriving in most types of soil that are not always wet, but which do not become very dry either. Adding plenty of organic material to the soil when planting will not only conserve moisture but provide nutrients for your tree too. Location is important with a special tree like this. It should be in a spot which is sheltered from the afternoon sun, and in warmer areas from the sun all day long.
Although the Filigree Japanese Maple will grow well in hot regions, we recommend it more for cooler growing zones, because in very warm areas, even with sufficient watering, the leaves may fall during heat-waves. This does not damage the tree at all, since all the growth takes place in spring and early summer, but it does shorten the season, so for the warmest regions we recommend several of our other varieties, such as the Ryusen Japanese Maple, which is very tolerant of heat and sun in the hottest areas.
Apart from providing water in summer, this tree really needs very little care. It has no significant pests or diseases and needs no pruning – indeed it is best left un-pruned. Just remove any small twigs that may die back. It is best to let it develop naturally, as each tree will become unique, depending on its location.
Now this tree bears no resemblance to cheaper seedling Japanese maples of no particular origin, and all discerning gardeners respect the craftsmanship that goes into producing these special plants. So avoid cheap tree that will only be a disappointment and instead choose real quality and make an investment in your garden’s future. The demand for such rare varieties as the Filigree Japanese Maple is high, and our stocks are limited, so order now to have the privilege of growing the best.