The Maple Mysteries

“I think something really amazing just happen.”

I said to myself as I walked through the door after a long day at work. I was shaking and feeling a little crazy after having a smile stuck on my face for the last 30 minutes. David wasn’t visible at first so I went looking for him. When I found him he was busy on the phone. I ran back outside to gaze upon my good fortune.

It was a little while before David came out to see what was up. I looked at him, still smiling, ” I think something really amazing just happened! You have to come and see!”

30 minutes earlier

Port Townsend, like the rest of the west coast, is experiencing unusually high temperatures. That or maybe summer has finally arrived. Working in the heat is not my favorite, but I’m pretty use to it and try to be smart: work in the shade when I can, drink lots of water and try to start early in the morning. I finished up a day of pruning and headed to the dump where they have a yard waste and composting facility. There were a lot of trucks backed-up to the pile and I had to choose my spot. I will generally pick a spot away from others, (I need my elbow room!) but, I was tired and hot and figured I might as well squeeze in with the rest. I was able to tuck back into a spot between two piles of brush.

The first thing I noticed

was a pile of pretty Japanese Maple cuttings. “Someone else has done a lot of trimming today.” I said to myself. I walked around my truck undoing the straps and taking my tools out. I set my tools on the ground and then something in the maple pile caught my eye. I stood and stared trying to figure out what it was I was seeing. It didn’t make sense. Root balls, lots of them. The pile wasn’t from someone trimming maples it was a pile of Japanese Maples! It still didn’t make sense. Why would someone get rid of so many maples? They looked healthy too. Someone had taken them out of their pots, loaded them into what had to have been a large dump truck and took them to yard waste to be composted??? See, it doesn’t make sense.

I began to pull plants from the pile. The first one had leaves that were dark green with a slight purple hue. The next one had pretty green bark and bright green leaves. And last, but not least, a weeping tree.

This last year

I lost all three of my Japanese Maples, some in a more dramatic fashion than others. My bright green maple died from a couple of probable causes. One reason was that I planted it too deep. It’s very important to plant the root ball an inch or two higher than the ground to encourage the water to drain away from the trunk and roots. It was also planted near a locust tree we had cut down which I wrote about here (click)  Bye-bye, Honey! A year later the locust was still vigorously popping up all over the yard and we panicked. David drilled holes into the stump and poured in some salt. We were trying to not use poison, but it turns out maples are extremely sensitive to salt and fertilizers. I think some of the salt spilled out of the holes when they filled up with water. Basically we did everything to ensure its certain death! My weeping maple and purple leaf maple died after they were moved one too many times because (surprise!) they can also suffer from root damage. I had gotten to the point where I figured I didn’t deserve Japanese Maples, couldn’t be trusted. Bad gardener! No maples for you! I was so happy to be “given” a second chance.

Meanwhile, back at the dump…

You’re not suppose to take stuff from the pile (they weigh you as you go in and out) but, I knew my weight going in was below 200 lbs. which would only result in the minimum charge anyways, so… harm, no foul? Sounded good to me!

After checking to make sure I was getting the best (the first three turned out to be that) I loaded them up, shaking. I’m sure the worker at the scale house thought the heat had made me weird. Don’t worry, I’ll drink more water!

As I drove I couldn’t believe what had happen. After showing the trees to David, I put them in pots, gave ’em all a good drink of water and haven’t stopped smiling since!

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