There are so many wonderful things to say about Japanese Maples that it can be hard to know where to begin. With the Kasagiyama Japanese Maple, however, that is easy. All year round, this tree is a kaleidoscope of changing colors, and if you look at your tree every day, every day it will show you something different. The display begins in spring, when the newly emerging leaves glow with wonderful shades of pink and purple, highlighted by dark purple veins etched across their surface. As the leaves expand the contrast between the deep veins and the paler leaves becomes more pronounced, and your tree will glow with more vibrant colors.
As spring turns into summer the leaves towards the center of the tree first turn to bronze and pink and then to delicate shades of green, while the new leaves at the ends of the shoots are soft pink, giving the whole tree a calm and refined mood. As the cooler weather of fall arrives, the scene changes again, as the leaves of your maple turn vibrant reds and oranges, accented by the deeply-colored veins and with no two leaves the same, making a spectacular ending to another year. Even when the last leaf has drifted gently to the ground, mature trees will be decorated with red miniature maple keys, nodding in the breeze and adding a winter dimension to your enjoyment of this remarkable tree.
All this beauty to grace your garden, and we haven’t even considered the shape of the leaves yet! The Kasagiyama Japanese Maple is a palmate maple – the leaves are deeply divided into narrow fingers. In spring the clusters of young leaves look exactly like tiny hands, with the fingers pointed down. The name ‘kasagi yama’ means ‘hanging over the mountain’, and the tiny leaf-hands do indeed look like they are hanging over a cliff, admiring the view.
Kasagiyama is a small, upright tree with a spreading habit. It will stay small and compact for many years, perhaps eventually reaching 12 feet or so, so this is an idea Japanese maple for a small garden, or for growing in a large pot – a great way to enjoy these enchanting trees. This tree will grow into a broad form, with the lower branches almost horizontal and the upper ones more upright, showing off the form of its beautiful foliage from many angles.
The ideal location for the Kasagiyama Japanese Maple is in soil that does not become too dry, but that is not constantly soaking wet. A position with sun in the morning or late afternoon is ideal, as protection from the heat of the midday sun, especially in warmer areas, is best as it will keep the leaves in perfect condition. Full shade will not allow the best leaf-colors to develop, so try to give you tree some sun for part of the day. Allow enough room for the tree to spread into its natural broad shape – you don’t want to have to trim a tree like this hard, in fact little or no pruning is needed, just remove a few twigs as the tree develops, and trim back any very long shoots, so that a natural, tree-form is created.
A little fertilizer in spring – use one suitable for deciduous trees – and regular watering are all that is needed to keep your tree fresh and healthy. Do not let the soil become completely dry, especially when your tree is young. Pest and diseases are rare in Japanese maples, so you should have no troubles with your tree as it develops and matures over the years.
Such a versatile tree can be used as a small specimen in an Eastern-influenced garden, or in any garden at all. It will look charming in the partial shade beneath larger trees, or among flowering shrubs like azaleas and rhododendrons. Planted into a large pot – make sure there are drainage holes – it can be placed on a terrace, patio or balcony and moved around to show its seasonal beauty, as the Japanese do with their prized trees. Move it into a shady area for summer, bring it into the sun in spring and fall to develop the best colors. A tree in a pot is a great asset in the garden, allowing you to make changing scenes as you choose.
Wherever and however you grow your Kasagiyama Japanese Maple, you can be sure that this gift tree will bring joy and beauty to the receiver year after year – even better than a box of chocolates!