The diversity of Japanese maples never stops amazing us, whether it is in the form of the plant, or the beauty of the leaves. The range of leaf-forms is extraordinary, from broad fingers to the most delicate laciness. Among the many different types of leaves there is one favorite of ours, that growers call reticulate. These leaves are deeply cut into narrow segments, but it is the veins that are the feature. They are a much deeper color than the rest of the leaf, so every strand is visible, and they spread out like a delicate network – which is what ‘reticulate’ means. This type is always rare, so we were thrilled to track down some beautiful trees of a wonderful form, making an upright tree with a kaleidoscope of colors through the season, including the best and longest-lasting fall red we have ever seen.
This wonderful tree is the Jubilee Japanese Maple, an upright tree that grows to 6 or 8 feet in less than 10 years, and that will probably mature at around 20 feet. Vigorous and strong, it has a rounded crown about as wide as it is tall, and the end branches take on a slight weeping habit, softening the outline in a gorgeous way. The foliage is simply extraordinary. Each leaf is wide-spreading, up to 4 inches across, with 7 narrow lobes reaching out from the leaf-stalk. Each lobe is separated from the others almost to the base of the leaf, creating a slender, star-shaped look. The network of veins is very pronounced, and especially in spring it contrasts sharply with the background coloring in a beautiful way. The new leaves are a stunning deep purple pink, but the coloring is on the veins and around the edges of the lobes – the background color is a pale, creamy pink. This two-tone look really blew us away.
As spring progresses the soft pink coloring predominates, changing gradually into a pale and delicious green for the summer. These light colorings really make this tree stand out, and it is eye-catching right across the garden, even while still young. A full-sized tree will be an absolute knockout. When fall arrives everything changes again. The veins become less conspicuous and the whole leaf takes on a gorgeous bright, glowing red color, one of the very best we have seen. The Jubilee Japanese Maple is notable for the persistence and endurance of its fall colors – those scarlet leaves hang on for weeks, making a fabulous show in the garden.
With its upright form, the Jubilee Japanese Maple makes a wonderful specimen tree on a lawn. Beautiful even when small, it will be simply wonderful for months on end when fully-grown. Use it too in a woodland area, where these trees really thrive, or plant it towards the back of a shrub bed. If you have developed an Asian-style garden, perhaps in a courtyard or urban space, then you cannot grow a better tree than this, with its leaves suggesting the crackle patterns on Chinese porcelain. It is also perfect for container growing – Japanese maples have fine root systems that thrive in pots – particularly if you have a drier garden and water issues.
To both develop its leaf colorings and protect it from shriveling, the ideal location for the Jubilee Japanese Maple would be one with morning sun and afternoon shade. It needs some sun to show its best colors, but the slender leaves can burn at the hottest part of the year. Of course, if you do have an ‘accident’, and the leaves shrivel in summer, don’t be too concerned. You may have diminished the fall display, but the tree itself will be fine, because the buds for the following year develop quite early in summer. Moist, well-drained and rich soil is best for your tree, so incorporate plenty of organic material, be it garden compost, rotted leaves, or well-rotted manure, into the soil when planting. Use something similar every year or two, in spring, to mulch the root-system, keeping it clear of the actual trunk. This will keep the soil moist and cool, which this plant loves. It is not drought resistant, so water regularly during drier periods in the summer, and also in spring should it be a warm and dry one. It is fully hardy throughout zone 5, so a great choice for cooler zones. Pests and diseases are almost never issues, and once you have the sun and soil right, your tree will thrive and need no special care.
The Jubilee Japanese Maple is a unique form of the Japanese maple, Acer palmatum, which grows naturally in the lower levels of forests in Japan, Korea and parts of China. Wild trees grow over 25 feet tall, and can even be taller, and Japanese gardeners have collected unique plants for centuries. When Japan was opened to trade in the middle of the 19th century, plants were among the first exports, and many varieties of maples came to America. These older forms are often still with us, but as well our nurserymen have grown many new plants. One of the outstanding specialist growers is Talon Buchholz, whose nursery in Gaston, Oregon is a mecca for lovers of the Japanese maple. Around the year 2000 he introduced a new plant he had grown for his Flora Wonder™ Collection. This beautiful tree he named ‘Jubilee’, and this great plant has really caught the attention of maple lovers everywhere. We have some beautiful plants, but our stock is limited, so order now – they will soon be gone.