Hydrangea and Japanese Maples

Discussion in 'Garden Design and Plant Suggestions' started by Budja, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. Budja

    Budja Active Member

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    I have a very nice Japanese Maple. It a mature tree. I was thinking of putting something under it. I usually put impatiens because of the shade. I was thinking of putting a hydrangea underneath it. What do you think? I figured the watering needs might be different but since the Japanese Maple is mature, it will need water too. I was thinking the blue flowers in contrast with the Flame red leaves of the maple would look awesome. Thanks for the advice. The area gets afternoon sun at an angle.
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Both moisture-loving east Asian plants so culturally and visually compatible. However, you do not want to cut or bark the larger roots of the maple trying to insert the hydrangea among them. Maybe instead plant it nearby, where the two colors can still be viewed against one another but the hydrangea is not close to the base of the tree.
     
  3. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    I agree with Ron. But from the standpoint of Japanese garden design, you would then risk creating a design problem: two elements tend to make for an uneasy or restless composition -- they would have a sort of visual tug-of-war in which one would tend to dominate the other -- whereas three elements would create a pleasing asymmetrical balance.

    The solution: a third design element that contrasts with the first two, placed in such a way that it makes peace between them. The maple is probably sort of an open, arching, spreading kind of thing, and the hydrangea would be visually more of a (pretty) blob or globe shape. So a natural foil would be something low and quiet, with contrasting leaf shape, that would "read" as a flat or horizontal element. A stand of Siberian iris? Maybe not quite enough sun, though the point would be the blade-like leaves, the restful green mass, not the flowers. A dwarf bamboo, like Pleioblastus or Sasaella? Something like that would be cool.
     
  4. Budja

    Budja Active Member

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    I had another idea. I could put Japanese Painted Ferns under the Japanese Maple. I think the contrast of red leaves and silver leaves on the fern will look stunning. The hydrangea will put a nice touch of blue on the side.
     
  5. Hybrid Theory

    Hybrid Theory Active Member

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    I actually have all of these going on with some of my trees. I have hydrangea and painted ferns around three of my maples and I think it looks great. Now they are not right underneath the tree due to roots as you guys said but close enough that you get to enjoy them all instead of just one big clump of color.
     
  6. Barbara Lloyd

    Barbara Lloyd Well-Known Member

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    budja,
    Just a thought! Two summers ago I planted DICENTRA formosa (i think) It's the one that grows wild around here. It has spread under a huge camilia bush just out to the edge of the shade. The leaves are light green and feathery with small arching branches of pale lavender, pinkish flowers. I don't know if their roots would bother your tree or not. They are spread by rhizomes and could be a bit invasive. I don't know squat about Japanese gardening so don't know if this would work for you.
    barb
     
  7. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    I don't think the two things go together at all, and wouldn't plant a hydrangea under a Japanese maple, but I am not an expert, just an enthusiastic, half-educated sort of gardener. Japanese gardens have very low, mini azaleas, small ferns, very low spreading conifers under them, sometimes, and swaths of moss or a very low green groundcover. My garden has some sweet woodruff [spreading shade-loving perennial groundcover that is low in the spring, fills out and grows and blooms to about 8 inches tall later in the summer] half under a larger Japanese maple, but the other two Japanese maples just have mulch, with other shrubbery close by in the vicinity but not under or too close... hydrangeas should be in sunnier locations and arranged almost as specimen shrubs on their own, to feature their bloom and allow them to benefit from the sun.
     
  8. Mister Green

    Mister Green Active Member

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    The Japanese maples I've seen are rather delicate and uncluttered in their shape and structure. This seems to work well in Japanese style gardens (I'm not surprised) where the aesthetic is also uncluttered. If it were my tree, I would keep the area around the tree fairly simple and plant shade type plants like ferns or hostas or trilliums.
     

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