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Acer palmatum – The Aristocrat of Small Trees

Dave Creech

We’ve been growing Japanese maples at SFA Gardens since the mid-1980s and now have over 350 varieties scattered over 16 acres of part shade garden. In 1988, the Arboretum was a small patch of ground next to the Agriculture building.  It wasn’t long before a six-acre bottomland thicket next to LaNana creek was added.  The opportunity to evaluate plants exploded.

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img_7692 The Japanese maple collection in the Ruby Mize Garden under high canopy pines

One of the first on the list was Japanese maples.  Keep in mind that, at that time, Japanese maples were relatively uncommon in nurseries or landscapes in Texas.  When encountered, Japanese maples were either seedlings of unknown parentage, ‘Bloodgood’ or ‘Atropurpureum’, the latter being a tree type red leafed seedling.  That was about it.  Well, I found Dell’s Japanese maples (Junction City, Oregon) and a box of 50 small grafted bare-root plants soon arrived – 50 varieties, each…

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