• Katy Gardener

Japanese Acer: the ultimate Autumn jewel

Updated: Apr 20

Our next-door neighbour has the most spectacular Acer tree in her garden. Its crimson leaves light up the grey and muddy view from our back window. As its branches swoop across the fence into our garden, it feels like we can claim some of its glory as our own.


Our next door neighbour's awesome Acer

Embarrassingly I don’t know much about trees, but thankfully Jack could identify it for me. From an inexpert lens, I would describe the tree as a gentle, elegant beauty. Whilst you can’t miss its striking colour, it’s not too showy or attention seeking. With its small stature, it’s like a beautiful young person who is not yet aware of how lovely it is.


I think Japanese Acers are spectacular, and I think everyone should have one to brighten up their Autumn outlook! One of their main selling points is that they don’t grow too big or dwarf everything around them, and with their beautiful leaves they are an excellent choice for even the smallest of gardens.


Top Facts about Japanese Acers

  • Japanese Acers are deciduous trees: meaning their leaves fall each year once they have reached maturity

  • They are slow growing but live for a very long time

  • They grow well in both containers and in the ground

  • Low maintenance: they don’t require much pruning or training

  • For ease and speed its best to buy as grafted trees, but for the adventurous they can be grown from seed

  • Plant out in the Autumn and Winter months

  • Position in sheltered and shaded areas

  • Fertilise in the spring



Japanese Acers Love..

  • Cool, shaded positions, preferably under the shelter of taller trees

  • Fertile, well-drained soil


Japanese Acers Hate…

  • Bright sunshine

  • Frosty winds which can scorch the leaves


My Autumnal table decoration. Beware: leaves only last a day before they dry and curl up!

My week


I spent the week back at my parents’ house. I turned up with the baby and the puppy and threw their relatively calm household into disarray. Our puppy Gretel who is perfectly well house trained had two von-craps on the first day! My parents’ old dog Polly was decidedly unhappy about our arrival, but luckily my parents loved it.


Polly having to share her bed with baby Gretel

We had such a great time not doing much but enjoying each other’s company. At the back of my mind I know that my maternity leave will not last forever so we have to soak up these lovely moments whilst we can.


Whilst I was at home, I got my hair cut and highlighted. Just as I was bouncing out with my new do, I bumped into an old friend who I hadn’t seen for over fifteen years. I was blown away by what had happened to her since I’d last seen her. A few years ago, she fell off her horse and suffered a neurological muscular injury which means she can no longer walk unaided and struggles to use the main joints in her body. What is miraculous is that she now rides in the Paralympic dressage team for Great Britain. She literally fell off the horse and leapt right back on to become an Olympic athlete. It is just amazing!


On my drive back to Winchester I listened to Alain de Bottom talk on Elizabeth Day’s How to Fail podcast, and it was weird how much what he said echoed exactly echoed what my friend had done. He discussed how surprisingly tough and robust humans can be and no matter what happens to us, we can keep going and find a way through. What a thing to celebrate!


I love this oak which is on one of my favourite walks near my parents

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