The Arch City Gardener

Journeys In St. Louis Gardening and Beyond

Why I Love Paperbark Maple (or the Simple Pleasures of an Early Sunday Morning)



I’ve been on a bit of a bender about my mid-winter ennui. But that is changing now.

I awoke early Sunday and shuffled my way to the kitchen for my slog of coffee–no doubt a scenario many of you are personally familiar with. Awaiting the coffee pot to finish brewing, I gazed out the window into the backyard.

Five years ago the view would have been barren except for the exceptionally large and looming sycamore on the other side of the fence. Today I can keep watch on the row of leatherleaf viburnum planted to shield a low-lying, deeply shaded corner of the yard where nothing grows. Grasses, rose shrubs, and perennials line the edge of the patio. Last spring I replanted (for at least the 5th time) to the edge of the patio two azaleas that I hadn’t yet managed to kill. I’ve got my fingers crossed that they will thank me with fuscia-colored blooms this spring.

And then there’s the paperbark maple (acer griseum), planted in spring 2016, and chosen for its peeling bark feature. From the window she was ablaze from the backlighting of the early morning sun. I mean she was glowing cherry red around the edges of her peeling branches. Beautiful.DSCN5744When I bought the tree, the guy at the nursery told me they are slow growers and that it might take a few years for the tree to really exhibit the peeling bark feature. Paperbark a0218This is a view of the bark facing west with the sun at its back As you can see there is lots of peeling going on. What a cool tree.

And yes, dear reader, there is winter interest…in my own backyard!



Author: mjarz

Welcome to the Arch City Gardener. My name is Mimi and I started this blog to share my journeys in learning to garden in St. Louis County, Missouri and learn more from my readers who garden. Thanks for reading The Arch City Gardener.

3 thoughts on “Why I Love Paperbark Maple (or the Simple Pleasures of an Early Sunday Morning)

  1. That is one that does very poorly here. No one seems to know why. It does not seem to mind the dry air like Japanese maples dislike. They do not seem to mind the mild winters, since they start out fine in spring. They just never seem to look good. I would guess it is the mild winter, but I really do not know.

    • I had considered river birch but don’t think it is as attractive in winter. Does river birch grow well in your area?

      • No! Which is weird too. Everyone else thinks it grows like a weed. They can get big, but take many years to do so, and they are not very pretty. They do not look much like they do in pictures from other regions.

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