A NORWAY MAPLE whose leaves are dark, glistening crimson throughout the spring and summer is horticultural news that opens all opportunities for new landscaping effects. The form known as Schwedler maple has made an effort toward this rewarding goal, but its red changes to green with the arrival of summer. Finally, along comes the postwar variety Crimson King, which really fills the bill. As a result, it is making headlines such as no other new tree has achieved in years.
Crimson King, whose full official name is Acer platanoides Schwedleri nigra, is a true Norway in form, hardiness, and ease of culture, All it needs to develop its full beauty is reasonably good soil and drainage, sunlight, and ample space to grow tall and broad. The shade cast during the warm months is deep and refreshing, while proper shaping during its nursery years guarantees that no branch will be low enough to get in anyone’s way. As for possible trouble with plant insect pests or diseases, well, there is no more reason to anticipate it than with any other form of Norway.So much for practical considerations. Now let’s look at some of the ways of utilizing Crimson King’s unusual display assets to best advantage.
Dogmatic, take-it-or-else rules for home-grounds landscaping can be tricky business for the simple reason that there are always some properties that nullify them by unalterable peculiarities of size, topography, surroundings, or perhaps the location or architectural style of the house itself. As a general principle, however, it is well to remember that any sizable tree of exceptionally striking color can easily be given to great prominence, with the result that it ruins the harmony of the rest of the landscaping and actually dominates the whole place. A rather frequent example of such an occurrence is that single big blue spruce growing in the middle of a small front lawn and fairly shouting at every passerby.
So, on most home properties, Crimson King finds its most appropriate location in the neighborhood of one of the side boundary lines or perhaps toward the rear, where it can be only partially seen from the street. Often it can be used with excellent effect to fill in a boundary corner, either alone or with an underplanting of evergreen shrubs such as white rhododendrons, Mountain-laurel (Kalmia latifolia) or drooping leucothoe (Leucothoe Catesbaei). Sometimes, it can be placed with complete success close to one end of a rear terrace over which it will cast a welcome shade on hot summer afternoons. In all cases, it is well to consider the flower colors of other nearby plantings to avoid possible clashes of hues between the maple leaves and their near neighbors.
Crimson King can frequently serve as a splendid accent against a background of other good-sized trees, either deciduous or evergreen, on large or markedly irregular properties. Do not plant it among them unless they are very widely spaced, for that could easily lead to eventual crowding of a star performer that certainly deserves all the growing room it wants. The ideal spot is likely far enough in front of the existing trees to create a rather prominent bulge in their general line. Or perhaps there is a deep, open bay among them at the rear of which your maple can be placed with splendid results.
The old advice to buy your trees from a reliable, well-established nursery with dark red leaves is particularly pertinent to this comparative newcomer. Among other advantages, such a procedure will ensure you’re getting a genuine Crimson King and one that has been properly grown and pruned to develop a symmetrical specimen form. Also, if not too far distant, such nurseries are equipped to do a proper “balled-and-burlapped” transplanting job for you, which is always an important consideration.
by M. Carlton