Why Japanese Maples Are Like Potato Chips (or Orchids)

Matthew and Timothy Nichols’s story could be a case study of what it means to manifest something. The goal they realized: To amass an enviable collection of Japanese maples and establish a leading role in championing them.

In 2008, when the brothers took over their father’s hobby — a Japanese maple project they had helped with, doing tailgate sales at flea markets — they quickly realized how much they needed to learn to turn it into the sort of business they envisioned.

And they knew where they might learn at least some of it.

The brothers, then 21 and 27, planned a pilgrimage to the 2009 Maple Society of North America conference in Oregon, which included a tour of Buchholz & Buchholz Nursery. They hoped to meet the nursery’s owner, Talon Buchholz, who had introduced some of the Japanese maple selections they most admired.

Funding the trip was a bit of a stretch. They were living in their parents’ basement in East Flat Rock, N.C., but they summoned that where-there’s-a-will spirit: Matt Nichols sold his college furniture, Tim Nichols divested himself of his video game collection, and off they went.

To develop maples that can withstand winters as cold as those in Zone 4, breeders are looking to the genetics of the exceptionally hardy Acer pseudosieboldianum, from Korea and China, which also offers fiery fall color.Credit…Buchholz & Buchholz Nursery

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