Garden Photo of the Day

Kathy’s colorful Japanese maples in Massachusetts

Photo/Illustration: All photos courtesy of Kathy Fink

Happy Friday, everyone! Today’s photos are from Kathy Fink up near Boston (we’ve visited her beautiful garden before, HERE).

She says, “After our long and cold winters near Boston, the Japanese maples I have selected for my garden are brightest in spring. Early colors change continuously, and the leaf shapes are most interesting as they fill out. Although not a main feature, I also enjoy the delicate flowers. I take out my camera and go looking to see what glorious leaf compositions nature has provided each year.


“For very little trouble, my Japanese maples have provided so much pleasure over the years. The initial challenge was to select from the many wonderful options in colors, textures, and sizes to create the effects I desired. I learned the hard way to plan for the mature size of the tree which is a bit bigger than I expected in the ideal conditions my location affords. Most of the maples turn green and provide a cooling feeling in the hot months and then blaze again in different colors in the fall.”


Gorgeous, Kathy!

It’s almost SPRING, people! I know you’re going through your photos from last year, planning what you’ll do differently this year. Send some of those photos in to me! [email protected]

‘Maiku Jaku’ 
‘Shigitatsu Sawa’ 

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  1. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 03/07/2014

    Hands down my favorite kind of tree. Who needs flowers with leaves like that in the spring! thanks for sharing this spring preview.

  2. flowerladydi 03/07/2014

    Beautiful Kathy! Japanese maples are some of my favorite trees!,,,, So love their spring unfurling,,, and brilliant Fall color for sure!,,, but also sooooo many interesting shapes and sizes and colors! I can truly appreciate your love for them!
    I have none of the varieties that you do, but have seen some, there are just so many to choose from! I have a VERY small yard, and have to be careful about size,,, but have had alot of luck keeping many small.
    I would love to see more!! Thanks for sharing!,,,, It will be while before our spring starts after such a long cold winter,, but alot to look forward to!,,, and seeing your trees makes me anticipate even more!

  3. NC_Yarden 03/07/2014

    Good Morning, Kathy. What wonderful imagery to wake up to. Absolutely beautiful. And you happen to highlight some of my favorite cultivars as well! As a Japanese maple addict myself (with over 60 cultivars in my garden), I too really enjoy the Spring flush of maples, especially here in NC where they put on their best show, as our Summers can often times debilitate the Fall display to some degree. I love the bright and pubescent look of the leaves as they emerge - so vibrant, both in color and that wonderful feeling of rejuvenation. I am a fan of winter (as it provides somewhat of a break), and this has most definitely been quite a winter, and one that still has its cold hooks in us here in NC, but seeing your maples now has me wishing winter away and longing for that Spring awakening. I hope to get the nerve up one day to send Michelle photos of my garden, especially the maples, but until then, thank you for sharing yours. Awesome.

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/07/2014

    There is such a delicate vulnerability to Japanese maple leaves as they first start to unfurl and make their appearance. Hmm, they hold the same tender fascination for me as a baby's little fist opening up and then you see those magical little fingers straighten out. Your Japanese maples are all exquisite, Kathy, and I could stare in marvel at their beauty for a long time. You've done a wonderful job nurturing them.

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/07/2014

    Oh, by the way, Kathy, what is the interesting ground cover in the second picture on the left?

  6. NC_Yarden 03/07/2014

    meander1 - Just in case Kathy has a delay getting back to the site, if you are referring to the little "stand" of plant sbeneath the yellow maple, it appears to be Mayapple (podophyllum peltatum).

  7. tractor1 03/07/2014

    Japanese maple is one of my favorite trees but unfortunately I don't have it here, as due to their slow and low growing habit I'd need to have it fenced from deer forever. My next door neighbor recently planted one in his front yard to replace an eastern redbud, he has it fenced and I suspect it will stay fenced. Kathy, that rounded shrub with what appears to be covered with white blooms looks to me like Japanese andromeda, if so is a lovely specimen. I envy your maples, thank you.

  8. bee1nine 03/07/2014

    Very nice Japanese maple specimens and collection happily growing in your Arlington garden! I so love the lovely shades
    and fine leaf textures. Totally amazed by the hundreds of varieties out there. Thanks for sharing yours, Kathy!!

  9. wGardens 03/07/2014

    STUNNING! I love the first photo, especially. How many varieties to you have? Do you have a fave? Thanks for sharing~ they are truely beautiful.

  10. greengenes 03/07/2014

    Woops.. sorry lost what I wrote! So I will try again.. It is a hard morning for me this morning. Okay.. Just so beautiful, Kathy! It has been great to see these and it encourages all of us that spring is just around the corner! These Japanese maples bring such delicatness to all the seasons. They are a wonderful tree to choose. You have some beautiful choices as well! This makes me want to get out and decide where iam going to plant the four that I have in pots. I sure like you natural colored fence! Thanks for sharing! Oh happy days ahead!

  11. atpeacewithnature 03/07/2014

    Love, Love, Love all Japanese Maples. Due to terrible NY weather this year, 2 of mine are just coming viewable after being covered in snow. Many broken arms and I just hope they make it! And when they do....oh how different they will look this year :)

  12. greengenes 03/07/2014

    Something iam experimenting to deter the deer is placing a little blob of "vicks vapo rub" on the different branches. It has worked so far this winter but iam wondering about the summers heat to melt it all away.. I had thought about making little pockets of it out of some sort of dull colored fabric and hang on the trees branches.. oh what we do to have certain plants! It sounds funny but so far so good. I read that they don't like strong smells so that was the strongest stuff I could think of. So tractor1 maybe that might help for you. I guess it all depends on how hungry the deer are, right?

  13. tractor1 03/07/2014

    greengenes: I've tried Vicks, I've tried all sorts of concoctions but when deer are hungry in winter they will eat anything they can reach. Vicks does however work well to deter the ants from my hummer feeders, they'll travers plain Vaseline but not Vicks. Also I replied to your last post yesterday.

  14. janetsfolly 03/07/2014

    Meander1, we're on the same wavelength and you've stated it so beautifully. The tender delicacy captured in these pics make my heart loooooong for Spring!

    I love the info exchange here, so here's my 2 cents! I've had quite reliable success deterring deer with Irish Spring soap. I cut each bar into 2 or 3 pieces and wrap it in some mesh from onion and citrus bags, then tie it onto an upper branch or wherever the deer can reach. They last pretty well, the only caveat being that you must get them on there before the beasts discover the treat! (Basic deer training 101) which reminds me, I've got some I need to get replaced pronto!
    I would love to add a Japanese maple or 3 to my landscape but I too am overwhelmed by the choices. Fellow GPODers, can you recommend a book and/or source to get me pointed in the right direction? I'm in north central Ohio, zone 5/6, depending on where I plant. Come on, Spring!

  15. janetsfolly 03/07/2014

    Kathy, I just went back through your photos again, so lovely! And thank you for the labels, I'll be saving this post for future reference.

  16. GrannyMay 03/07/2014

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful Japanese maples, Kathy, they are one of my all-time favourites! Truly beautiful!

    Years ago, I started some from seed (keys) which I picked up from the ground underneath mature trees in a park. I had some success with this process and had enough trees to give some away. Of course, this way you have no idea what the tree will end up being, it height, bark or growth habit. Nor did I know their hardiness, which is probably why some did not survive. However, 20 years later I still have three of them, and they do provide me with amazing spring and fall shows.

  17. NC_Yarden 03/07/2014

    janetsfolly - Regarding Japanese maple selection, a very comprehensive resource is Peter Gregory and J.D. Vertrees' book, "Japanese Maples: The Complete Guide to Selection and Cultivation." Prepare to be overwhelmed. There is also a pared down pocket version as well. Another good resource online is Patricia Smyth does a nice job with her trees, and also makes recommendations based on your region and/or conditions. This should be a good start. Enjoy, and happy shopping.

  18. Tea_garden_lover 03/07/2014

    Everyone, I am glad there are so many Japanese maple lovers out there. By the way, yes the ground cover is May Apples.
    In the photographs of my yard but not of the separate maples, the bright red one is Shindeshojo. It turns green in Summer but socks a punch for sure in Spring. At risk of boring some I will list comments for 15 varieties in my yard, but please also do check out Essence of the Tree for photos of many more. They are the source of many of my trees.

  19. Tea_garden_lover 03/07/2014

    Maiku Jaku (Aconigifolium)or Dancing Peacock is a large tree with feathery large leaves. It is a specimen tree in my front yard, and the multiple colors in early fall are amazing. It can reach 20 feet or taller but I keep it pruned smaller.

  20. Tea_garden_lover 03/07/2014

    Ayoyagi is smaller, green most of the year, and looks like what you would expect in a Japanese garden with the surprise that the bark is bright pea green in winter. I have several of them growing in a narrow area along the path by the side of my house that leads to the Tea Garden.

  21. Tea_garden_lover 03/07/2014

    Beni Shien is variegated red with white marking,deeply cut somewhat irregular leaves and an open habit. That sounds like a show off, but it is actually natural enough looking to stand over the water basin in the tea garden.

  22. Tea_garden_lover 03/07/2014

    Butterfly (in one of the photos) is variegated with pink, white and green in the spring. The bark also has amazing colors. You can see the yellow in the photo, but in other places the bark is streaked with pink. This one needs shade. The variegated sections of the leaves can be all kinds of shapes.

  23. Tea_garden_lover 03/07/2014

    Ever Red is a lace leaf with gray indumentum. It is maroon in spring and cherry in the fall.

  24. Tea_garden_lover 03/07/2014

    Ginnala Emerald Elf has a three lobed triangular leaf and stays small without being a super dwarf. It is the first to turn in the fall with many colors. I am glad I got two when I saw these as I have not seem them since, but they may be out there.

  25. Tea_garden_lover 03/07/2014

    Green Trumpenberg is a very slow-growing version of the better known red maple. It also has the rolled down leaf lobes.

  26. Tea_garden_lover 03/07/2014

    Katsura is the large maple in the back right of my yard that starts out quite orange as in the closeup photo and then changes to yellow (in the landscape view) and then to light green. Although it leafs out early, I have not had trouble with late frosts in zone 6. In winter, the smaller twigs are reddish.

  27. Tea_garden_lover 03/07/2014

    Kinran stands to the left of the yellow Katsura in the landscape photo. It is smaller as you can see and changes from rose to purple to green then to pink & multi colors in fall.

  28. Tea_garden_lover 03/07/2014

    Mikawa is strongly structured but stays very small and lives in my rock garden. I keep it at about 3 feet. The leaves overlap and it looks like it was trained without any work. It is also colorful in fall. This is a favorite of many.

  29. Tea_garden_lover 03/07/2014

    Okushimo has a photo looking directly down at the leaves, but it is actually a small very upright vase shaped tree. It has lovely gold and pink in the fall for me.

  30. Tea_garden_lover 03/07/2014

    Roseo Marginatum may not be the correct name for the lace leaf off the patio but it was sold to me as that, and in the spring it does have a reddish margin for several weeks. I keep it pruned and it does not mind that.

  31. Tea_garden_lover 03/07/2014

    Shigitatsu sawa has light green leaves with darker veins. The drooping leaves in the photo fill out and flatten into lovely stars in a shaded part of my yard. The name means "Snipes Rise Quacking from a Swamp" - what an incredible image!

  32. Tea_garden_lover 03/07/2014

    Shindeshojo is the very bright tree as previously mentioned. It is lovely as it turns green and new growth comes in red for a while, but I also like that it quiets down and then shows more orangy in the fall.

  33. Tea_garden_lover 03/07/2014

    Shishigashira has closely held foliage in dark green along the branches which gives it a most interesting texture and it turns starting at the top in orange and multi-colors in the fall.

  34. GrannyMay 03/07/2014

    Thank you for the detailed descriptions Kathy! Each one sounds so beautiful, I'm sorry that I have no more room in my garden! Hmmm, maybe a small Mikawa in a container!

  35. janeeliz 03/07/2014

    Oh, such a lovely collection! I don't have any but would love them ALL if I had the room. I always look forward to seeing different varieties in the garden shows. Thanks so much for sharing yours with us. They are all gorgeous1

  36. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/07/2014

    Kathy, I would love to know what your technique is when you say you prune some of your trees to keep them smaller. I'm sure it takes some special finesse so that they don't look chopped. Any info and/or tips would be appreciated. Thank you.

  37. Tea_garden_lover 03/07/2014

    Thanks everyone for your kind comments. Actually, I find these small trees are well suited to limited space.

    Essence of the Tree pruning video:

  38. janetsfolly 03/07/2014

    Thank you, NC_Yarden, for the helpful info. Should get me started, possibly on a magnificent obsession! And thank you, Kathy, for the details on your fabulous collection. What a great post!

  39. tractor1 03/08/2014

    meander1: there are many web sites that explain how to prune Japanese maple, this one seems fairly direct:
    The arborist at the large nursery I patronize suggests when removing small growth on maple trees to simply yank them out with a downward tug. If cut with pruning shears a tiny stump remains and its node becomes a point for more new growth to emerge with a bushy appearance, defeating the pruning. The arborist recommends doing this type of pruning in spring as soon as new growth appears. The tiny wound will heal quickly and no new growth will emerge from that same spot. This was the recomendation for my Acer grisem and it works, my tree is growing taller with more robust branches and without all that bushiness on the lower portions. I did the same with my huge multi-trunked Norway maple and it cured all that new growth from emerging on the trunks... I used to nip off those small twigs with pruners, lo and behold a week later I had a half dozen new twigs emerging at that spot. So yank, don't nip.

  40. greengenes 03/08/2014

    Wow! Once again I had to take a final peak for the night. Kathy you have quite a few trees! They all sound so great. I would love to see them! But then again, I guess I have! Thanks again!
    Tractor1 I just saw yesterdays notes... I will contact Michelle for the exchange.. Did you read about the irish soap working for the deer? Have you tried this? I think I will get some tomarrow and see what happens. Yes, winter is suppose to be a time to relax and slow down. It seems that I haven't done so. I don't like the cold wet and dark days in the northwest, seattle area. I don't like to deal with depression so I consume myself with what I can do in the gardens and also sew quilts. But time has sure flown by this winter. You all have had some horrible weather and long lasting at that. I feel so bad for everyone there. We were dealing with a drought somewhat but now with all the major rain weve had, our mountains are now heavy with snow... we will talk soon! Goodnight

  41. user-653169 03/08/2014

    Wonderful landscape. I have 14 Japanese Maples, but have run out of room. I live in Southern California, where few lawns are an acre or so. I also have numerous azaleas which I get mostly from Nuccios, which has one of the best selections in the country. This is one of my favorite landscapes I have seen on this site.

  42. GardenSmiles 03/11/2014

    Kathy, Thanks for sharing your beautiful variety of Japanese maple trees. They are lovely! Looking forward to hopefully visiting the New England states in September and going up the St Lawrence Seaway. I've never been any farther north than Niagara Falls and it should be a beautiful time of the year.

    Just went back to view your previous post. Your other trees are awesome too. What is the groundcover between your stepping stones? Irish moss? Thanks again! Darlene

  43. Tea_garden_lover 03/14/2014

    Garden Smiles, the moss between the stepping stones is native moss that likes the shade here. I do not know the exact variety. It does take some work to keep it weeded, but the area is manageable by one person.

  44. galani 09/15/2014

    I've been an avid gardener for most of my life. I still swoon and drool over Japanese Maples. Flowers are lovely but they come up short next to a Japanese Maple.

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