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Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2012, 2:27 p.m.

Learn to grow Japanese maples

  • A Japanese maple sporting lush, bright orange spring foliage.

    Michael O'Leary / Herald file

    A Japanese maple sporting lush, bright orange spring foliage.

This coming Saturday, April 21, at the nursery we are offering a class in growing Japanese maples by Trevor Cameron, our Japanese maple expert. It starts at 10 a.m. like all our Saturday classes do, and it is free. I am confident that it will be well worth your time to spend an hour learning about how to grow and prune and collect some of the finest maple varieties available. And for your time we will reward you with a 20 percent discount on any maples you purchase that day. If you happen to read this after the fact, then rest assured that Trevor is here 5 to 6 days a week ready to answer your questions.

Trevor came to us a year ago from another well-established garden center here in the Puget Sound area, and his strengths are in the field of Japanese maples, conifers and rhododendrons. (I have to admit, though, that after only 12-plus months I have been able to influence and corrupt him about the virtues of perennials. My next challenge is to get him to plant a hardy banana into his garden, but, alas, I am digressing.) Trevor is also a Certified Professional Horticulturist, or CPH, which means he is fluent in all aspects of gardening, not just maples, conifers and rhodies.

In the past 12 months, Trevor has brought into our garden center more varieties of Japanese maples then I have encountered in the 22-plus years that I have owned the nursery. We now offer tall and short, skinny and fat, shade-loving and sun-tolerant, container-appropriate and landscape-ready, small 4-inch starters to 25-gallon specimens, and every leaf color of the rainbow maples. It is really mind-boggling. And yes, I am kind of excited about all these choices.

In the past, we chose not to get too heavy into Japanese maples largely because Emery's Garden in Lynnwood was the go-to place. But with their closing this last December, it just made sense to step in and fill that gap for the gardener who is looking for something special when it comes to Japanese maples. And so, for this spring 2012, we are literally stepping over maples.

While I will admit that I am only partially fluent in the language of Japanese maples I do, in fact, have several growing in my garden. One of my favorites is Fireglow, which I planted at least 15 years ago. It is a compact red-leafed variety that even after all these years is still only 10 to 12 feet tall. It has good red color during the season and fabulous fall color in autumn.

As for laceleaf varieties, there are oodles of them, and it seems to me that many look the same (but then, I am not a connoisseur). I do have a very nice Crimson Queen in our patio which is red during the summer, and the missus has a Waterfall, which is a green laceleaf with outstanding fall color. She also has a beautiful Villa Taranto (which doesn't sound very Japanese in my book) in a pot as a focal feature by our entrance.

After walking by all these new maples in the nursery every day, I can see the handwriting on the wall for the Smith garden. There will surely be one or two new additions this year, which is fine, just as long as there is still room for my hardy bananas.

Do come by and see the great selection we are offering for your gardening pleasure.

Go to Sunnyside Nursery's website at or email
Story tags » Gardening

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