As I’m over here watching the leaves fall off my Japanese Maple tree for the Winter, I came across a story called My Maple Mishap by Amelia Grant in our archives. At first I thought it was going to be about tapping maple trees, which is initially why I wanted to read it. But then once I got into it, I realized it was about a woman’s desire to grow Japanese Maples.
I’ve learned in the years since I bought our house, garden-kit complete with a Japanese Maple, that these trees are beloved by so many people. When we first bought the house, I wanted to hack it down to make room for a bigger patio. But gosh-forbid I say it out loud, I’d be it with a “noooooooo, don’t do that!”. I considered transplanting, but found it’s just too big and old to move at this point.
Then one year I hired a landscaper to help with our mass of shrubs and trees on the property and he pruned it so short, I was positive he killed it. And he did kill a dogwood tree, and held a hydrangea back for three years, but the Japanese Maple came back the same year—just with a shorter haircut.
These days my Japanese Maple almost touches the ground. No weeds grow underneath because it doesn’t get much sun. So this year, I carved two “doors” in it, in the front and the back, for my daughter to use as a little fort, complete with a walking trail to and through it from her playhouse. Now I can’t really imagine getting rid of it. She loves it!
I’d love to catch up with today’s author now and find out if she ever did get a Japanese Maple to grow!
Get More Stories About Gardening Mishaps
This story comes from our archive that spans over 30 years and includes more than 130 magazine issues of GreenPrints. Pieces like these that turn stories about gardening into everyday life lessons always brighten up my day, and I hope this story does for you as well. Enjoy!
My Maple Mishap
By Amelia Grant
I have passionate opinions about what I want in a garden. One of my lifelong must-haves is a Japanese maple.
It started when my husband and I first married. We lived in his urban townhouse. The tiny yard was mostly concrete but did sport a beautiful Japanese maple that was about ten feet tall.
After a year or two, we bought a house in the suburbs. I did not want to leave the Japanese maple. As luck had it, it was November, and several seeds had fallen from the tree and sprouted. I potted several seedlings, kept them in the garage until spring, and tended them in pots the following year.
By autumn, three were still alive, each about six inches tall. I decided to plant them close together so I wouldn’t step on them. Over the next 17 years, they grew into a beautiful, multi-trunked Japanese maple about the same size as the original one.
My husband retired and we moved yet again, this time in early spring. There were some seedlings under the maple. They didn’t have leaves yet, but I was sure they were more Japanese maples. I potted them up and put them on the truck to our new home. A few weeks later, to my horror, I discovered they were red maples.
I still don’t have a Japanese maple in my new home. ❖
By Amelia Grant, published originally in 2016, in GreenPrints Issue #105. Illustrated by Marilynne Roach
Have you had success growing Japanese Maples? Any tips or tricks for our readers?