Inaba shidare Japanese Maple Planted - July 2023

At the Morton Arboretum Arbor Day Plant Sale this year, I came across this sign (photo below) describing a Japanese Maple variety that was new (to me):  Inaba shidare.  It was listed as an Acer palmatum and the photo had red laceleaf foliage.  The sign describes it as "The best of the weeping red laceleaf maples for its leaf color retention in Summer, its scorch resistance, vigor and hardiness.  The lace-like foliage emerges deep purple in Spring, matures to purple-red by Summer and finally turns bright red in Fall."  

I mean...what's not to love about that, right? 

I had previously purchased a Japanese Maple from the Morton Sale - an Emperor 1 in 2021 - and have been REALLY happy with it in our garden.  So, when I saw this sign for the Inaba shidare, I wanted one. 

The only problem?  

They were gone.  Sold out.  Or...at least...sold out during *my* visit.

Felt a little bit like a 'one that got away' sort-of-deal.

So, imagine my delight when I was picking up some lumber for my sideyard floating backyard boardwalk at Menards when I wandered through their garden center and noticed a weeping Japanese Maple.  Tamukeyama, I figured.  

I pulled on the tag and saw this:


Inaba shidire.  At Menards?!  

Obviously...I bought it.   It is a high-grafted Japanese Maple.  I found this page from Davidsons Japanese Maples (a JM nursery here in Illinois that has...unfortunately...closed) that talks grafts - and how they prefer lower-grafted trees.  This one is a VERY Tall graft - and gives the tree an appearance of being much more mature than it really is, thanks to the 3'-tall stem it is growing.  Below is a photo that shows the Acer palmatum Inaba shidare on a tall graft.


And, here below is a photo of that graft.  I've started to get to know Japanese Maple grafts and some are clearly better than others.  This one is pretty good (at least...to my relatively untrained eye).


That photo showing the tree near our front porch stairs was a spot that I thought long-and-hard about planting this tree.

The listing talks about how Inaba shidare can handle sun scorch.  I've learned that *most* Japanese Maples prefer some shade.  At the very least.  Some...prefer A LOT of shade.  But, there are a few Japanese Maples that can handle full sun in our Zone 5b.  One of those is the Inaba shidare.  The Missouri Botanic Garden even suggests that it grows best in full sun.

So, I placed it in the little bed in between our stairs and our driveway.   That bed is currently occupied by three Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grasses and some groundcover.


And, I left it there for a few weeks.  I liked how it filled in that bed.   I liked the profile the red foliage kept from the sidewalk.  It was a really nice feature tree as you approached the front walk - see below:


I was set on planting it here.  And then I started to think about the mature size and placement.  It gets 8-15' wide.  This bed is about four feet wide.  It was going to QUICKLY outgrow the width of the bed.  Now...that's not a terrible thing as I can prune it.  But...I also started to think about snow.  In the Winter, this bed is where I pile up a TON of snow.  If I planted this tree here and it had weeping branching...I started to think that maybe I'd have to rethink my snow situation.

And...then...finally...about that full sun situation.  After those few weeks in this location, I noticed some spotting on the foliage.  See below.  I assume (again...to the untrained eye) that *this* (below) is sun scorch on a Japanese Maple:


And that's when I started to play with the actual placement.  At first, I had it further out from the house.  But, then I began to observe the sunlight and shade patterns.  One day, I tracked the afternoon sun.  What did this tree look like at 11, 12 noon and 1 pm?  

Here was 11 am below.  Tree in full sun.


By 12 noon, it was *starting* to get a little bit of shade:


By 1 pm, the tree was almost entirely in shade:


And by 2 pm central, the tree was covered in shade.  


So...after some consideration, I thought that a Japanese Maple tree *could* go here, but I don't think this is the right tree for this spot.  It is too big.  There are a number of other JMs that are smaller, more upright and can handle an equal amount of sun that are better fits for this small, island bed.

I then turned my attention to the backyard - where else could I put this tree?

#10 on my 2023 to-do list was to continue on my 'fern upgrade' plan.  That plan includes replacing Ostrich Ferns (my first fern love) with stronger performers like Autumn, Crested, Japanese and woodland ferns.   I figured that planting this Inaba shidare could be a 'two-birds, one-stone-kinda thing'.  

I have a little section in the backyard border that includes a set of Ostrich Ferns alongside some Autumn Ferns.   The Ostrich Ferns obscure (on purpose) the little wine barrel water feature that I installed earlier this year (#8 on my 2023 to-do list), so they have a role.    See below for the Ostrich Ferns in the foreground:


I dug up about six clumps of Ostrich Ferns and relocated them to the far back of the yard near the wood storage.  I'll post about this transplant project another day.  I've been pulling Ostrich Ferns out all season and moving them a little bit at a time - hoping they'll naturalize this area in the back.

The red laceleaf foliage of the Inaba shadire works well with the different greens that I have in this section - see below for a peek at the combo:


With the ferns removed, I dug a 5-dollar-hole for the Acer palmatum Inaba shidare and planted it one level-back from the border.  



And then covered the hole with some loam and since I had a bag of wood mulch laying around from my backyard boardwalk diy project, I spread some of that on top of the tree rootball.    

(Also...a note to my future self:  go get some woodchips and mulch in all of these new Japanese Maples this Fall before winter to try to give them a little bit of additional winter protection.)



This is now the third Japanese Maple in this little slice of our garden - all three planted this year.  The annotated photo below shows the three - the Inaba shadire in the front, the upright Seiryu in the orange circle and the Waterfall in the teal oval. 


2023 marks my seventh tree-planting season.

This is now the ninth tree planted of the year and 86 overall.  And the seventh (living) Japanese Maple overall - two Emperor 1's, a Waterfall, an unknown laceleaf upright, a small Firefly, a First Ghost and now this Weeping Acer palmatum Inaba Shadire.  I had a small Tamukeyama that died back completely.  2023 certainly is shaping up to be the year of the Japanese Maple.

We (now) have 60 of 86 trees that we've planted.

86 trees planted/7 growing seasons = 12.28 trees on average planted each season
60 trees alive/7 growing seasons = 8.52 trees on average survive each season.

8 Japanese Maples planted.  7 Japanese Maples still alive.

Here's the full accounting:

2017 (9 planted. 4 Dead. 5 of the original annual total alive now):
1. Flowering Pear in backyard on north side.
2. Flowering Pear in front yard by garage. (LOST and replaced)
3. Japanese flowering cherry
4 and 5: 2 Lindens that I espalier'd and placed by the south fence line near our kitchen windows.
6. A Dawn Redwood from Earth Day 2017 (LOST and replaced)
7. Nat's Saucer Magnolia in our front yard
8. A Corkscrew Willow all the way in the back (LOST)
9. A Crimson King Norway Maple near the trampoline

2018 (17 planted. 6 Dead):
10. Another flowering pear from Earth Day 2018
11. Red Maple Sun Valley tree from Earth Day 2018.
12. Weeping Cedar tree - our first evergreen.  (LOST)
13. The weeping flowering cherry tree that the Babe planted for Earth Day 2018.
14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21. These Frans Fontaine Hornbeams
22. A replacement Chanticleer Pear tree (3" caliper) out front by our garage
23. Our second evergreen - a short Fraser Fir Christmas Tree out by the trampoline. (LOST)
24. This Canadian Hemlock that is the first of nine that our landscape plan calls for in the backyard. (LOST)
25. Our replanted/replacement Dawn Redwood. Same spot as the first.
26. This teeny-tiny Bald Cypress that I planted in the front yard, in between our driveway and our neighbor to the north.

2019 (9 planted.  5 Dead):
27, 28, 29.  A set of three small Canadian Hemlock Trees in our far backyard. (Two Lost)
30, 31, 32.  This second set of three small Canadian Hemlocks along the north fence line. (One Lost)
33.  My new Weeping White Spruce that will only grow about 4' wide placed near the fence line alongside the espalier'd Lindens.
34.  A NEW Dwarf Alberta Spruce planted near the south fence line.  Our first "dwarf" tree.
35.  This new Hakuro Nishiki Willow (Dappled Willow) tree planted close to the flowering cherry on the southside.  LOST - October 2020.

37.  A very thin Lombardy Poplar tree - columnar form - in the way back wood chip area.  LOST - July 2020.
38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45.  These apple trees in a Belgian Fence espalier.
46.  A small Northern Red Oak tree - our first Oak tree planted.
47.  A 'decapitated' Lavender Twist Weeping Redbud that I planted on a whim.
48.  A replacement (from the nursery) Lavender Twist Redbud planted close to the brother.
49.  A tall(ish) London Plane tree that suffered some transplant and frost shock, but seemed to recover. 
50.  Our second contorted tree - this one inspired by Disneyland Paris: a Harry Lauder's Walking Stick tree.
51.  Our third contorted tree - but one that checks A LOT of boxes.  Deciduous conifer.  Weeping.  Contorted.  Japanese.  Planted behind the front Maple - the Horstmann's Recursive Weeping Contorted Larch.  LOST - Aug 2020.
52.  Via the Morton Arboretum Plant Sale - a columnar tree from Japan - the Red Fox Katsura Tree that I planted as an understory tree to the dying Chanticleer Pear Tree next to our driveway. 

2021 (16 planted and 13 alive):
53.  A tiny bareroot Shagbark Hickory from the Benet Academy Environmental Club planted in the backyard.   LOST - May 2023
54.  Our first Japanese Maple - a dwarf Tamukeyama Maple planted in the south backyard bed LOST - May 2023
55.  A large Weeping Nootka Falsecypress from Wannemaker's planted in the new bed on the northside. 
56.  A long-sought-after Emperor I Japanese Maple - our second Japanese Maple - that is now planted on the border near our new-to-be-created fire pit area in the backyard. 
59.  A dwarf Japanese White Pine - Pinus Parviflora Nana (or perhaps something else).  LOST 2022.
64.  A second, tiny Ginko tree - this was a replacement for #62 - planted 'ib2dw'.
65.  A small - and ALL Green - Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) planted in front of the back Yews.
66. 67. 68.  A trio of London Planetree 'Bloodgood' trees that are planted along the fence that I'm going to attempt to pleach.

2022 (9 planted and 7 alive):
69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74. Six Green Giant Thujas trees planted as an upright evergreen layer in the backyard. Thuja standishii plicata. TWO LOST.  May 2023.
75. A small Saratoga Ginko tree planted in our front yard by the front walk.
76.  A London Planetree Exclamation planted in our parkway.  A bandit tree of sorts.

2023 (9 planted and 9 alive):
78.  Small, Columnar Scotch Pine from Home Depot in early Spring 2023. 
79 and 80.  Dwarf "witches broom" Ginkgo trees - Spring Grove - planted on either side of our back stoop.  
83.  A small, but upright red lace-leaf Japanese Maple - Unknown variety planted amongst the hostas on the north side understory bed.
85.  The second of three trees from Mr. Maple - another one-gallon Japanese Maple:  Acer palmatum 'First Ghost' back by the firepit.
86.  A high-grafted (5#) Acer palmatum Inaba Shadire planted by the wine barrel water spitter in the backyard.

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