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an alternative plant for a Acer Palmatum Dissectum please?

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Question from Sophie Dixon


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Hi, could the panel suggested an alternative plant for a Acer Palmatum Dissectum? I have just helped out a friend with her garden, and she was insistent on having this plant -- however, the site is too hot, and not really sheltered enough either. We did try the Acer, but it hasn't worked out well, and, to be honest, I don't think she has the time or dedication to mollycoddle anything.
However, apart from the issues with the site, the characteristics of this plant are ideal. It is to form the central plant in a small raised bed (which is just 1 m deep, but 5 m long). The raised bed is about a metre high, and we want the plant to weep over the side. Ideally we're looking for a plant with good foliage, preferably green (and ideally not grey), to contrast with Sambucus nigra eva, dark and apricot heucheras, hakonechloa, nandina domestica firepower, bergenias, euonymus Silver Queen etc. The garden is gravelled, and has a slightly Japanese feel, with foliage and plant shapes being more important than flowers (though there are some flowers, in apricots, blues, purples and whites). This plant should have as much interest as possible throughout the year, as it is kind of the specimen plant, it can be as high as 1 m, and approximately 1 m in spread as well.
Many thanks for anything you can suggest.

  • Views: 3009
  • Replies: 6
  • Posted: Wed. 3rd June 2009 11:26

acer alternative?

Reply from Mark Pumphrey

The alterative to Acer palmatum 'Dissectum' is a tricky one. Initially I considered a Sambucus 'Tenuifolia' which is reasonably tough, but like most fine leafed plants it dislikes strong wind which will burn it's leaves. It also is not too happy on a very dry soil. I have used Acer 'Dissectum' in dry conditions, but as a alternative consider usig a Dwarf mountain Pinus mugo 'Pumilo' is reasonable as it will not become too big. Whilst not a Japanese plant it does infer a bonsai feel to the scheme and should work for you.

Mark Pumphrey MSGD

  • Posted: Thu. 4th June 2009 18:26


Reply from Matt Nichol

Cut leaf Rhus typhinia 'Tiger's Eyes' may be a bit tougher, but it is not a form I have used so cannot comment fully on it's performance. Some reports of being picky.

The answer is for your friend to take great care in early couple of years, once established and with it's roots firmly down it will be far more tolerant of full sun.

No easy alternatives I am afraid.

Matt Nichol MSGD

  • Posted: Thu. 4th June 2009 19:15

What about purple foliage?

Reply from Jason Lock

You could try Sambucus Black Lace which is in habit not unlike the pruple form of Acer palm. Dissectum.


  • Posted: Thu. 4th June 2009 19:33

...and another thought!

Reply from Jason Lock

Betula pendula 'Trosts Dwarf' would be ideal grows approx 120 cm x 120 cm

Jason lock MSGD

...and another thought!

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  • Posted: Thu. 4th June 2009 20:17


Reply from Sophie Dixon

many thanks for all your replies. The Sambucus 'Tenuifolia' and Betula pendula 'Trosts Dwarf' are definitely two worth considering. I hadn't heard of either of them before. I have looked on the Internet, and tracking them down maybe a bit of a problem, but I HAVE found the birch at Burncoose nurseries...
It was definitely the shape I was particularly interested in -- the leaf shape would be ideal, but the most important thing is that it weeps over the edge of the raised bed. The Rhus typhinia 'Tiger's Eyes' is a lovely plant, and would be a suitable acer substitute, but I don't think it weeps at all? Much more upright I think?
Would the Sambucus 'Tenuifolia' and Betula pendula 'Trosts Dwarf' weep over the edge? If so, these look like strong possibilities. Now that I have explained that the shape is more important than the leaf, are there any other suggestions? I know there are plenty of junipers, but I really was after something a bit more delicate...
Anyway, thank you SO much for all your suggestions.

  • Posted: Wed. 10th June 2009 13:46

How about this Cistus.

Reply from karen

I don't know if (LINK)http://www.plantpress.com/plant-encyclopedia/plantdb.php?plant=697&pi=0 (?LINK) will do - doesn't fit all of your requirements - but its about the right size and will trail a bit with long seasonal interest - just bought one - says on the ticket 'no garden should be without one'.

  • Posted: Fri. 3rd July 2009 16:10