Gardening coach: maple trees and February jobs

Chinese paperbark maple glows in winter light (MarjanCermelj/Thinkstock)

Chinese paperbark maple glows in winter light (MarjanCermelj/Thinkstock) - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Judy celebrates a compact maple with wow factor for the winter garden


Potatoes - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Winter gardens are all about a finding some much needed colour and texture at this generally bare time of year. The beautiful paperbark maple (Acer griseum), is always an eye-catcher.

Copper-coloured bark that looks like peeling parchment is the clue to its distinctive name and makes it a fantastic focal point for a winter border. It’s good for a smaller garden as it is very slow growing and is suited to a wide range of soils and aspects.

Ideally, the best spot in a garden for this compact slow-growing tree is in a sunny south-facing position. A sunny spot will bring out the colour of brilliant red leaves in autumn, and an auburn halo around the branches when backlit by low winter sun. There are hints of purple in the bark too, making it perfect for under-planting with pretty purple heathers (Erica x darleyensis ‘kramers rote’) and spring flowering bulbs like vivid orange tulip ‘ballerina’. Now is the time to be planting small trees, as long as the soil is not frozen. If planting in heavy clay, improve the soil texture by adding organic matter such as farmyard manure or spent mushroom compost. Remember that newly planted trees will need regular watering through the dry summer months in their first year.

Five things to do in the garden this month

Prune wisteria

Prune whippy wisteria stems back to two to three buds now for large beautiful flowers in July.

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Prune clematis

Cut back late summer and autumn flowering (Group 3) clematis to a low strong pair of buds which will already be making growth in mild weather.

Coming up roses

Plant bare root roses, such as stunning and long flowering shrub rose ‘simple peach’.

Divide evergreen grasses

Evergreen grasses and sedges (Carex) can be divided and replanted in milder weather.

Tatties are go!

Start chitting first early potatoes like tasty pink ‘red Duke of York’ – good for salads, chips and roasting.

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