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Garden with a Winner!™

Weeping Lace Leafed Japanese Maple

Acer palmatum Var. dissectum ‘Inaba Shidare’

The wonderful world of Japanese Maple never ceases to amaze me. Although I garden in a colder Canadian hardiness zone than most, my landscape is not considered complete without at least one specimen. Japanese Maples are not the least hardy in zone 3 but with considerable TLC and effort the determined gardener is able to enjoy the graceful lines of these classics. Diminutive in stature relative to their maple cousins so familiar across Canada, they make up in interest, form and grace. Several of my green thumb colleagues display their treasured Japanese Maples in containers on their patios and balconies. Frankly, presented in this manner elevates the specimen to almost ‘show quality’ in a carefully selected container, almost Bonsai-like. The difficulty or rather procedure to ensure viability is somewhat daunting and perhaps not for everyone. What I do in the late autumn is remove my maple from the container and lie it down in a freshly prepared trench in my garden.  The root mass is covered with soil as is most of the trunk leaving the remaining structure exposed.  The next stage is to amass all the leaves from the yard and cover my plant, almost grave-like with them as well as grass clippings and even some small twigs. This cocoon will be covered with snow eventually and provide a snug, insulated winter refuge for my treasure. Come spring and the warming weather, the specimen is removed, the insulation composted, and the tree installed into its container again for a summer of sunshine and admiration. Well worth the effort!

The Weeping Lace Leafed ‘Inaba Shidare’ is perhaps one of the best examples, by my standard at least, that there is in the pendulous forms. The deeply serrated burgundy leaves are the largest of all the ‘dissectum’ category which makes this specimen appear somewhat fluffy when in full leaf. One of the many wonderful attributes of Japanese Maples is that they don’t require pruning to attain form or shape. Should you wish to prune, although not recommended, be extremely diligent and do so when the tree is fully dormant otherwise it will bleed severely.

This variety will perform best in rich and slightly acidic soils. If you plan to containerize your plant plan to use a mixture of prepared potting mix such as Pro-Mix with a good topsoil, roughly 50:50. In the garden, acidity can be maintained with ample amounts of compost, leaf mould and/or well rotted manures. To encourage deep and sustained rooting, the tree should have good, long soakings of water and in drier or windy climates, consider an organic mulch. ‘Inaba Shidare’ is rather an erect form for a Japanese Maple even though it is pendulous or cascading. If you have a water feature in your landscape this is an excellent variety to consider for edge planting. The waterfall-affect of the branching is classic beside a flowing stream of course with a perfectly chosen rock or two for accent, very Zen!