All the larger Japanese maple trees are broad and rounded, even when the branches are upright. Although they are small trees, they do need some space for their width. If you have a smaller garden, or a narrow space to fill, or even if you are looking for a visual accent, then a more upright tree is what you need. If you love Japanese maples, then in the past you would not have found something suitable for these purposes, but since the arrival of Twombly’s Red Sentinel Japanese Maple, all that has changed.
This tree is the first and only columnar Japanese maple, growing into a narrow, upright column of beautiful red foliage. It makes a lovely accent in your garden, catching the eye and drawing attention. It fits perfectly into a small space, or plant several can in a row for a narrow screen. It is vigorous and fast growing, so you will not wait long to have a perfect specimen.
Twombly’s Red Sentinel Japanese Maple forms an upright tree, quickly growing to 10 feet tall, but staying just 3 feet across, It will continue growing and may eventually reach 20 feet, still staying less than 10 feet wide. This narrow sentinel of red makes a dramatic accent in any garden. The leaves have the classic ‘Japanese maple’ dissected form, with five narrow lobes radiating out like fingers on a hand. They are 2 to 3 inches across, and colored in delicious shades of red throughout the seasons. In spring they are crimson, turning to burgundy as summer comes. Because this tree is constantly growing, there is usually a two-tone color effect, with new crimson leaves flashing against the background of the older burgundy ones. In fall they turn a dramatic bright red. Even after the leaves are gone, color from this tree persists all winter, because the twigs are a rich, bright red, which stand out beautifully against the wintery backdrops of crisp blue skies or fresh white snow.
In spring, older trees will produce tiny purplish-red flowers in clusters among the leaves, and these develop into miniature versions of the well-known maple keys that fall from larger maple trees. These are bright red, and hang for several months, adding yet more color to this tree.
Choose a sunny or partially shaded location to plant Twombly’s Red Sentinel Japanese Maple, and add plenty of organic material to the soil when you prepare the ground. Mulch your tree each spring with rich organic material, to provide nutrition and to conserve moisture. In hot areas a location that has shade from the afternoon sun during the months of summer is best, but this tree is very resistant to summer heat, unlike some of its more delicate relatives. It will grow well in any garden soil that is well drained but not too dry. This is also a very vigorous, fast growing tree, so it will soon develop into the perfect upright column of beauty you need.
The Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum, is a tree that is native to Japan, Korea, eastern Russia and Mongolia. Even in the wild it only grows 20 to 30 feet tall. It is naturally shade tolerant, because it lives in the partial shade underneath larger forest trees. In the late 1970s, Ken Twombly was visiting a church in eastern Connecticut, when he saw a large specimen of the ‘Bloodgood’ variety of Japanese maple. He saw a unusually clump of compact, upright branches growing on it, and since he had his own nursery nearby he collected some pieces and took them back to grow. Once they developed as independent trees they had such a dramatic, upright form he thought they were like red sentinels on guard, so his tree became ‘Twombly’s Red Sentintel’. To this day, it remains the only columnar Japanese maple available – a unique and very special tree.
Such a special tree cannot be grown from seed, as seedling trees will not have its unique features, so avoid cheaper trees that are often just seedlings. This tree is considered difficult to propagate, but our expert growers join carefully chosen shoots to the roots of seedling trees, to produce exact replicas of Ken Twombly’s original tree. This skillful work takes time, but the results are always worth it
Because Twombly’s Red Sentinel Japanese Maple is unique – the only upright Japanese maple in existence – it is always popular. Although we have good supplies, we know they will not last long. Now is the time to order if you want to enjoy this unique plant in your own garden.