There’s still time to celebrate fall color by adding a maple

November is a great time to celebrate fall color— not too late to move a tree or plant a new one.

The second week of November means you may have one last chance to mow and edge the lawn before winter sets in. Don’t mow or walk on your lawn if the soil is soggy and wet, as the weight of your mower and feet can compact the soil and squish out all the air pockets — your lawn will suffer from this next summer. Don’t mow the lawn if the ground is frozen or frosty for the same reason. Take this time to winterize your machines instead. Your reward will be a machine that actually starts when refueled for the spring season.

Autumn is the time to celebrate fall color. It is not too late to visit a nursery and bring home a tree for planting. As long as the ground is not frozen you can move or add trees and shrubs to the landscape. Here are the most popular maples for our area.

‘October Glory’ red maple: The leaves on this maple are held onto the tree later than most other cultivars so it can even be called “November Glory” as the summer’s green leaves turn bright orange then reddish-purple every autumn. Tall and with a rounded form this is a large shade tree so give it plenty of room. This maple grows 40 to 50 feet tall and up to 40 feet wide. Use it to create a big, bold display in a landscape with a lot of space.

‘Red Sunset’ maple: Unlike the first maple mentioned with late fall color, this large maple tree wins the award for early-fall color. Young trees have a tidy pyramidal form but don’t let that fool you into thinking the Sunset maple will stay narrow. It is a moderate grower but eventually will tower over a landscape reaching 40 feet high and almost as wide. The glossy green leaves turn a show-stopping, brilliant orange that will give any landscape a fiery jolt of sunset colors.

If you have the room, plant a variety of maple trees with both early- and late-fall color displays. Not only will you extend the color show but you won’t have all your trees dropping foliage onto the lawn at the same time (Yes, you do have to remove large maple leaves from your lawn).

‘Bloodgood’ Japanese maple: This is an easy-to-grow Japanese maple that stays small with a slender form. The burgundy-red foliage is attractive in the summer, then turns brilliant scarlet in fall. This maple can take filtered sun and is considered a moderate grower to 15 feet tall and wide. Well suited as a small lawn tree or near a patio or entryway. Now, here is a bit of garden gossip on this one. The small stature and hardy growth is due to the fact that it is a grafted tree so watch for nonconforming sprouts of growth coming from low on the trunk. Cut out these new shoots or, better yet, pull them from the trunk to remove the growth eye. When new growth comes from a grafted plant it can turn into a hostile takeover. Take charge early at the first signs of a revolution.

Waterfall’ Japanese maple:

Bargain hunters may find this attractive specimen tree for sale at the end of the season when box stores and nurseries are forced to discount trees still in stock. The Waterfall maple is another grafted tree so this explains the high price of this slow-growing beauty. It is worth seeking out even if you must wait until spring and pay full price (You can order one now for pick-up in the spring). The Waterfall maple displays dramatic, cascading branches that start green but then turn golden and peach in the fall. Growing only 8 to 10 feet tall, this accent tree will do well in a large container, near a front entry or as a focal point in a fall theme garden. Like all members of the Japanese Maple family (the Acer palmatums are a large and varied group) this small tree will adapt to partial shade.

• • •

Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of “Easy Answers for Great Gardens” and several other books. For book requests or answers to gardening questions, write to her at: P.O. Box 872, Enumclaw, 98022. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a personal reply.

For more gardening information, Binetti can be reached at her Web site, www.binettigarden.com.

Copyright for this column owned by Marianne Binetti.

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