Neither Amanda nor I is all that excited about Japanese maples. We see them as a pretty and relatively harmless diversion from the key task at hand, that of becoming resilient by learning to grow food.
Nevertheless, we are surrounded by Japanese maples and the love of them: (a) my brother Ruffin is a lover of all things Japanese maple, (b) we have two dear friends at church who are not only love them but have become quite good at propagating them, and (c) former Auburn football Coach Pat Dye has built a huge shrine to the Japanese maple near us in the form of a glorious nursery – Quail Hollow Gardens – that specializes in raising and selling them. I would link you to his site, but it appears to be dead right now for some reason.
It was one of those two dear church friends – Bill Shell – who invited Amanda and me to the second annual “Japanese Maple Grafting Party” at Quail Hollow. We jumped at the chance, of course, because it meant we were going to be rubbing shoulders with some of the most skilled plant grafters in the country. We were not disappointed.
Bill loves to point out that he hand-picks everyone who attends the grafting party, and it shows. When you personally invite everyone who comes, for example, you can ensure that everyone there is not only knowledgeable (save a couple of newbies like Lee and Amanda) but also that everyone there is a genuinely nice person.
We attended only on Saturday, even though the party started Friday and didn’t wrap up until Sunday. But there was much to see during our brief visit. Not only did we learn all about grafting Japanese maples (with the opportunity to see about six different ways of doing it); we also learned all about how to keep a knife (or most any other cutting tool) razor sharp.
The video runs about 8:40. Watch for a great description from Tim and Matt Nichols from MrMaple.com about the five blunders new grafters make when working with Japanese maples.