Without a doubt, one of my all-time favourite trees/shrubs [pending on how you choose to grow it] is Acer campestre ‘Carnival’. I know what you’re going to say: ‘A variegated hedge Maple, how original!’ But hold on a sec….
I have tried [unsuccessfully I might add] to grow numerous selections within the Acer japonicum and palmatum species – those that typically fall under the ubiquitous ‘Japanese Maple’ umbrella. Again, I know what you’re going to say: ‘Zone 5? You really do enjoy being a stalwart member of the ‘Zonal Denial’ club don’t you?
But lets get back to the subject at hand. I first stumbled upon it while walking the display garden at Lost Horizons, one of my all-time favourite nurseries from a plant collector’s perspective. There it maintains a shrub-like appearance, topping out at roughly 1.75m in height. It is without a doubt one of the most requested and sought after specimens! Unfortunately, he’s a hard one to track down. Lots of vendors carry A. campestre, but few carry this variegated beau hunk!
Early Spring witnesses the emergence of its pink, cream and white variegated foliage. It puts me in remind of A.p ‘Ukigumo’ – excepting the fact that its foliage is more substantial. It maintains a naturally occurring pyramidal shape, attaining heights anywhere between 2-2.5m with a slightly narrower width. I’m one for some heavy pruning to keep it at the 1.5-2m height myself, but to each their own.
Caution is adamant concerning it’s placement, as with most trees with heavy white variegation, it is highly susceptible to burn and scorch if placed in direct sunlight! It is best suited to a light to partly shaded placement with shelter from any of nature’s harsh conditions. Its ethereal glow and delicate open habit guarantee that it will be a conversation piece for years to come. Hardy Z5-7. It has won the Award of Merit from the Royal Boskoop Horticultural Society, Netherlands.
Mature height 2-2.5m with a spread between 1.5-2m. Demands a partly shaded placement to protect its delicate, heavily variegated foliage from scorch and burn, in an area protected from harsh winter conditions.