March 8th, 2011

Maple Insatiable

dougLast week I blogged about the impossibility of choosing a single variety of tomato to grow. This weekend I discovered that choosing just one Japanese maple is equally perplexing.

My front yard has two big shade trees—a red maple and a little-leaf linden—but there’s plenty of room for smaller trees. I love Japanese maples in all seasons (especially fall, when their foliage ignites into crimson, orange, gold, and scarlet hues), so I pulled out my Forestfarm catalog and started reading the descriptions.

Forestfarm, a mail-order nursery in Oregon, lists 178 cultivars of Acer palmatum, aka Japanese maple, in its current catalog. Add to that number a few dozen cultivars of related species of small Asian maples, like Acer shirasawanum and Acer japonicum. All are described in glowing terms. Even with the help of J. D. Vertrees’ authoritative book Japanese Maples, which I checked out of the library, I couldn’t narrow my wish list to fewer than 15.

So I ordered 15 trees. Where will I put them all? I’ll worry about that later.  —Doug Hall

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