Today I was walking around the nursery looking at all the dormant Japanese Maples. This is definitely the time of year when Maple lovers start to go down that crazy road of anxiously anticipating the spring. (Myself included). Because really when you think about it, there is nothing more beautiful than a yard or patio full of Acer palmatums when they are flushing out in Spring. So here we are, six weeks into the dormant season, wondering how we will survive the next 3 months without our Japanese Maples greeting us every day with their stunning foliage. The lace leaf Japanese Maple varieties showing how to be truly elegant. The Dwarf Japanese Maples begging to be touched. The bonsai Japanese Maples demanding us to pull out the camera. The stately upright varieties taking center stage in our garden landscapes. I can’t wait for spring! How about you?......I hope we survive….

But this is also the time of year when certain varieties really grab our attention. So here are a couple of my favorite Japanese Maples for winter interest.

Acer palmatum ‘Bihou’.This incredible variety puts on, in my opinion, the BEST winter display. And if you disagree that it is the best, I’m sure you will at least admit that it is the brightest. Once the cool temperatures of winter arrive, the bark on ‘Bihou’ turns from orange/yellow to bright yellow. This variety always grabs my attention from a distance.


Acer plamtum 'Bihou'

Acer palmatum ‘Sango kaku’.This is by far the most famous of the colored bark Japanese Maples. It has been around for a long time and has proven itself not only stunning but also reliable. A perfect bright coral color that is unmatched in the garden.

Sango kaku

Acer plamtum 'Sango kaku'

Acer circinatum ‘Pacific Fire’. This is a lesser known Vine Maple variety that really puts on a winter show. The branches are a deep coral to red depending on sun exposure. What makes this variety different is the extra thick limbs. Even the current seasons branches can grow up to ½ inch thick.

Pacific Fire

Acer circinatum ‘Pacific Fire’

Acer palmatum ‘Winter Flame’.This variety is really great because it is by far the most vigorous of the colored bark Japanese Maples. The bark color is mostly red to coral red. Plant this one next to ‘Bihou’ for a remarkable contrast during the winter months.

Winter Flame

Acer plamtum 'Winter Flame'

Acer palmatum ‘Mikawa yatsubusa’.This is not a colored bark variety but winter is a wonderful time to admire its amazing and artistic growth structure and branching habit. Also the newer growth branches with their extremely tight internodes. The next season’s buds packed tight together, just waiting for spring.

Mikawa yatsubusa

Acer plamtum 'Mikawa yatsubusa'