Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Japanese Maples…A sturdy, four season plant

By Ann Murphy

Japanese maples have been used in gardens for a long time and they do particularly well in our climate. Dave Etchepare, manager of Dennis' Seven Dees' eastside store, pointed out that, once established, they are surprisingly drought tolerant, needing only occasional watering if the leaves start to dry out during our hottest weather, and they have very few pest problems. He also told the Monday Le Tour des Plants workshop attendees that most of these graceful trees like at least some sun; in fact, red Japanese maples lose most of their red coloration if they are planted in the shade. One of our premier Japanese maple growers, Jim Schmidt of Don Schmidt Nursery in Boring, grows his 300+ variety of maples in the field in full sun with no supplemental watering, which is a testament to their toughness. Dave and one of his staff experts also encouraged gardeners to not be afraid of pruning out branches to show off the shape of the tree. They recommend that you start pruning from the inside (yep, you need to crawl inside or under those limbs). To learn more, Dennis’ Seven Dees is offering other “Care and Handling of Japanese Maples” seminars at their Lake Oswego store on Wed., Sept. 16 and the Cedar Hills location on Fri., Sept. 18 at 2pm. Al’s Garden Center in Sherwood is also offering a class on Japanese maples on Sat., Sept. 19, 10am.

I’ve purchased several wonderful and less common Japanese maple varieties at Garden World, one of which is Acer palmatum 'Orangeola' that's been in the ground a few years and is in desperate need of a trim! When Le Tour des Plants wraps up, guess what I’ll be doing (besides planting all the new plants I'm acquiring by visiting all these wonderful nurseries during Le Tour)?!?

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