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OUT IN THE GARDEN: Doing an 'Acer' job with small tree planting

To demonstrate to my wife that I am a thoroughly modern man and down with the youth I purchased a digital radio for her. Analogue is so noughties.

Now between you and me I thought it would be easy enough to set up, surely all you had to do was switch it on and let it do its thing.

Step forward two hours and I’d finally managed to work it. My wife kept popping into the kitchen during this time to ask how I was getting on or if I needed any help. I wasn’t going to admit defeat so my stock answer was “no, I’m fine love, I’m just testing all the features.” I think she bought it.

A Japanese Maple (46608782)
A Japanese Maple (46608782)

Anyway, I’m now sound asleep and I am violently awoken by what sounds like a youth playing boom boom music through their car stereo outside my bedroom window.

And like all youths, their music can only be listened too at ear bleeding volumes. I leap out of bed, rushed downstairs ready to tear this ne’er do well a piece of my mind, when I realised that the source of the boom boom music was in fact the radio. I’ve only gone and managed to set the alarm on the ruddy thing!

I open the front door and pretended to berate the imaginary youth as the entire household is now awake. To avoid heading back upstairs to answer any probing questions I decided to fire up my laptop and go through my emails. Stephen from Fosdyke wanted to plant a Japanese Maple in his small courtyard garden and asked what was best way to go about it.

Japanese Maples, commonly known as Acers, are easy enough to grow and do well in containers in shady, sheltered spots. The great thing about Acers is the colour of the foliage; they are slow growing and work well in small gardens.

I told Stephen to look at planting one of the Acer Palmatum family as they tend to grow wider than taller – this is opposed to the Japonicum varieties which grow taller and slightly thinner.

Both will grow to about six feet tall.

Japanese Maples do tend to grow better in well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. Now I know that Stephen wants to grow his in a container as the majority of his courtyard garden is hard landscaped.

To plant, Stephen will need to fill his container with both a John Innes number 3 and ericaceous compost. For good drainage it’s always a good idea to place broken crockery into the base of the container.

As we are in Spring, his Acer would benefit from a slow-release plant food. The soil will need to be kept moist so once planted he will need to give the Acer a good watering but he should avoid allowing the soil to become soaking wet.

It will need regular watering to keep the soil moist, especially as it’s been quite a dry April. In the winter Stephen will need to bubble wrap the Acer and the container as the roots of the Acer are vulnerable to frost.

Fast forward eight hours and there’s a bang at the door. It was my neighbour Dan. “Thanks for waking everyone up last night. Next time you’re going to shout at the invisible man think again!”


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