Companions for Japanese maple?

miclino(5)November 10, 2010

Have a shady spot behind a japanese maple in front of the house. Gets some morning sun but shaded rest of the day. Would like something to lighten up the area for the rest of the day so preferably something with a bright foliage or flowering all year around. I thought of false cypress but they need more sun? Would prefer something that makes the maple stand out and about 4 ft tall without getting too wide.

Right now I have two new planted Let's dance hydrangea but realized they are too small for the spot. I am going to move them in front of the JM in spring. What could replace them? Open to perennial or shrub suggestions. The obvious solution would be boxwoods or yews but not really good contrast for the maple.

See pics below.

Same area from behind

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coolplantsguy(z6 Ontario)

Japanese Painted Fern, Athyrium niponicum var. pictum or one of its selections such as 'Burgundy Lace' would be great.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 7:55PM
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miclino(5)

Beautiful plant but it would not be seen from the front yard because its too short especially with the boxwood hedge in front.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 10:06PM
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arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

dimensions are such an important part of this equation.

while i'm shooting in the dark w/o them, my inclination is to suggest a yellow ribbon thuja on the right side- keeps narrow, gets 10-12'H. MAYbe there'd be enough light......

and then - to the left of the tree-either the short form of zebra grass or move that alberta spruce back to the spot( but it does not look healthy; does it have mites or maybe it just doesn't get enough light there?) And hakonechloa macra aureola in front of the tree, in place of the juniper.(this juniper wants hot sun, is drought tolerant, and is good edging plant.) The tree will ultimately spread to fill the entire width of this space.

when you post a design question like this, we really need:
more photos of the spot -macro views- (we need to see doors, windows, house facade); area measurement.

best,
mindy
www.cottonarboretum.com/

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 12:26AM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

I think you need bold texture to set off the laciness of the maple - something like bergenia works well, or perhaps a bright coral bells ("Citronelle" would work well here or a silvery-leaved coral bells) or blue or yellow hosta (varigated hosta might compete too much). Wouldn't do ferns - texture too similar.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 5:53AM
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coolplantsguy(z6 Ontario)

Well, I've seen the combination (Japaense Maple with Japanese Painted Fern) and it's stunning, at least IMO. ;)

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 7:32AM
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miclino(5)

Thanks for the comments. I agree that a picture from further back would help. I will post one later tonight. I have considered that fact that the right corner might need something with some height. You are correct that the dwarf spruce has spider mites that I have been battling all year. Am ready to pull them and my hair out. I hesistate to plant anything else of that nature there because I think the lack of adequate sun might have something to do with it?
I have considered Citronelle but for the front of the bed. I want something behind the JM that will have enough height to provide a backdrop for it.
I was going to move the hydrangeas to the front of the JM but the Hakonechloa might be a good alternative.
Another question, I have been afraid to pull out the juniper because I have heard that one should not disturb JM roots? Am I being too cautious?
Finally I cross posted this in the conifer forum and got the suggestion of Taxus cuspidata 'Dwarf Bright Gold' which I was not familiar with. Sounds like a good option.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 10:28AM
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miclino(5)

Another pic of the area this summer

A much older pic from further back. Nice to see how the JM has filled in.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 10:17PM
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arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

yes, get those junipers OUT of there! so they don't intrude further on the j maple roots.

the macro shots are most helpful. my design ideas would be to soften the house/landscape transition by placing a narrow upright conifer to the rear right of the j maple and at the left corner of the facade. yellow ribbon thuja or thuja de groots spire, both dense, easy to source and to grow, inexp.That taxus woud likely be very difficult to find.
Remove juniper and replace w/ hakone. and also place variegated liriope to fountain over the low brick walls, in front of the box edging.
best of luck,
mindy

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 2:08PM
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miclino(5)

Thanks. The boxwood hedge is atleast 1.5 feet tall. The hakone grass would get hidden behind it. I really don't need a groundcover in that spot anyway. What if I actually put the hakone grass in front of the boxwood hedge? Would it be too much? It has to stay shorter than the hedge but might look nice cascading over the brick.

I was going to move the Lets dance hydrangea from behind the JM to the front where the juniper currently stands.

I think the thuja is a better suggestion than the chamaecyparis verdoni I was originally considering. It would be taller, grow faster and stay narrow. Just hope there is enough sun.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 3:47PM
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arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

verdoni is way inferior to nana lutea, fyi. and would be too short and wide for that spot i think. hakonechloa would not like hot reflected heat off sidewalk, i don't think.plus, at 1.5'H, it would be too big in front of the hedge; that's why i suggested the liriope.

don't know that hydr.;how tall does it get? if 3-4' then it's too tall for the j maple.
mindy

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 12:16AM
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miclino(5)

The hydrangea is listed at 2-3 ft tall and wide. Figure the pink flowers would complement the JM nicely.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 2:22PM
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miclino(5)

Would you plant a clematis with support in the right corner or would that just not fit in for the front yard.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 11:46AM
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simcan(z5b/Toronto)

I agree with the Hakone suggestion; true, it won't be (very) visible from the street but it would look terrific as people walked to your front door and gardens are (or in my view should be) about tension and surprise and texture, and aureovarieta Hakone would be perfect. As for in front of the boxwoods, I am not personally a big fan of solid blocks of impatiens or marigolds (though if your are no problem, stick with them!) and would suggest something sprawling/groundcovering to work against (meaning with) the structure of the pavers and boxwoods...something like liriope is a good suggestion, maybe V. minor (I have had no problems with its reputuation as an aggressive plant) ajuga, periscaria affinis (dimity), or, and here is my real suggestion, Anemone sylvestris.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 1:38PM
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connietn

FWIW, I had a JM at our other house. I planted Nandina (the shorter kind) encircling it. When I put them in they looked very cute, but they ultimately got about 3' tall. I went back to my old house a month or so ago, and the whole JM area looked like a big...blob. You could no longer see the JM trunk, so the whole thing looked like one large shrub.

My aunt has that house now, so she and my mom moved the Nandinas and replaced them with a groundcover (not sure which one they went with). I haven't seen it yet but hear it looks much better.

I have two threadleaf JMs here. One is underplanted with dwarf Mondo grass, and the other with Heuchera. I think (hope) this will be a combo they can grow into. I especially like the look of the dwarf Mondo - the grass is a nice textural complement to the foilage of the JM. :)

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 5:22PM
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connietn

Oh - my old JM is now about 4-5 feet tall and wide. I'm thinking it's about 12 years old.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 5:24PM
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crunchpa(z5Pa)

Here is a cutleaf maple photo from 2002. It is underplanted with mondo grass and painted fern.

Here in 2005

Here is 2010

If you crawl under it you can find the mondo, which still survives. Its zone 5. My sisters in zone6 has really taken off.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 10:32PM
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miclino(5)

Wow, that sort of is like a big blob. Can one prune a JM? Mine seems to have criscrossed branches on the top.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 3:14PM
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arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

yes, good idea to prune them.

crunch, that is an INVALUABLE trio of photos.if you posted them also on the j maple forum, alot of thankful people there would be!
best,
mindy

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 7:57PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I don't think you have enough room to plant anything but ground covers. The Japanese Maple will fill up that space rather quickly.
It should be pruned to 'show some leg', otherwise you will get the blob look.

I agree on getting rid of the Alberta Spruce. You're fighting a losing battle there.
Mike

    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 7:44AM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

Epimedium x warleyense, E. alpinum, Dryas octopetala, Dicentra spectabilis are all possibles.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 10:14PM
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miclino(5)

Well here's my current plan. I'm going to remove the juniper and coreopsis in the front. Move the hydrangeas to the front at either end of the bed, underplant the JM with Hakone grass. I'm going to trim the JM to show some "leg" as someone suggested. Do not plan on letting it become a big blob! Finally, if I can find some decent sized plants, I will try out Taxus cuspidata dwarf bright gold behind the JM. After reviewing pics from throughout the season, I just don't feel there is enough sun in that back area for a conifer.
The impatiens in front is a lot of work so will try some of the ground covers suggested.
Now have to figure out what to replace the Dwarf spruces with...........

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 2:44PM
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kimcoco

I had mine underplanted with Lamium Silver Beacon.

Lamium blooms for me profusely from spring to frost in both sun and shade.

The pics here show the second growing season in 2009 - the Lamium was planted mid 2008..they fill in nicely, but need to be contained within a border or they have a tendency to spread.

Unfortunately, my photos aren't the greatest and don't quite do it justice as far as the contrast with purple leaf shrubs/trees - our JM had die back that year and we yanked it.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 5:21PM
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miclino(5)

Thanks for those pics. I think for me it was already between Hakone grass and Lamium

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 8:09PM
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