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Rosemary Barrett
Photographs by Derek Hughes
David Bateman

WITH leaves turning colour at this time of year, Maples is a timely addition to the bookshelf. Few trees surpass maples' autumn display and Kiwi author/plantswoman Rosemary Barrett knows her stuff when it comes to these eye-catching trees - she has more than 80 species and varieties in her own garden.

In her book she describes more than 130 species and cultivars, many depicted in the 115 photographs through Derek Hughes' keen lens.

After dealing with the basics of cultivation, Rosemary Barrett enthusiastically tackles her favourites, Japanese maples (Acer palmatum). In an epilogue containing her top 20, the "red maple" cultivars 'Beni-komachi' and 'Beni-maiko' head the list. She also takes a look at North American maples. Acer saccharum, the sugar maple (from which maple syrup comes) is billed as among that continent's finest deciduous trees.

Rosemary Barrett is refreshingly authoritative. When discussing group planting for a large garden she plumps for 15 trees "mixed for colour and variety", opting first for Acer palmatum 'Shindeshojo' "because of its wonderful variation in colour".

A chapter on companion planting follows discussion on landscaping with maples. Among her favoured companion trees is the dogwood (cornus). Rosemary Barrett's top choices of companion shrubs include rhodos and japonica. Concise tables detail the suitable complementary plants, which include bulbs and perennials. They also give the hardiness zones and habit of the companions. A chapter on landscaping with container-grown maples will appeal to space-starved city gardeners.

So, if you're in tree-planting mode over the winter and considering a maple or two, Maples will give you all the signposts you need.

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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Last updated: March 1, 2021