“In the Yard” column for Feb. 1, 2013

Arbor Day came and went in the deluge that soaked yards and parks, but you have the rest of the winter to hold your own observance.

“We still have a month or so remaining in this dormant season for tree planting,” said Allen Owings, LSU AgCenter professor of horticulture.

“Tree planting can continue through the rest of the winter and into early spring,” he said. The Japanese maple makes a good specimen tree in the garden. Owings gets a lot of calls and questions about the tree.

Specimen plants are grown alone in the yard or garden for ornamental effect. Such a tree draws the eye into a landscape. “Spec,” from Latin, means “to look.”

Plant in partial sun to partial shade. A little sunnier than shadier spot will provide enhanced leaf color, Owings said.

“Full sun will result in leaf burn on many varieties during the summer,” he said.

Japanese maples are shallow rooted. Protection from the wind is something to consider. Soil should be slightly acid and well-drained but maintain some moisture.

“Variations in leaf color and shape are a unique horticultural characteristic of Japanese maples,” Owings said.

“There are green-foliaged and red-foliaged varieties,” he said. “Most of the green-foliage varieties have reddish or yellow fall foliage. Red-foliage varieties are most susceptible to sun scald during summer and early fall. Some of the finer textured-foliage species are called threadleaf forms.”

Recommended varieties include Bloodgood, Red Emperor, Glowing Embers, Fireglow, Crimson Queen and Burgunday Lace. The LSU AgCenter has a recently planted collection of 40 Japanese maple varieties in the gardens of the Hammond Research Center, 21549 Old Covington Hwy.

Ed Cullen

Advocate staff writer