This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
There seems to be much discussion pro and con, as to the hardiness of the new Japanese Maples for this climate. As is usually the case, both sides are positive, and draw their conclusions largely from their own observation and experience. Mr. Walker would make out that they are much more hardy than the average fruit trees in Indiana, while some of our friends as far south as Baltimore claim that they should be classified, as to hardiness, with the Eucalyptus or Indica Azalea.
Having imported and dealt in this class of plants quite largely for a number of years, and had them tested under different conditions in various localities, I conclude that both these claims are right in general, but wrong in particular. The happy medium between two extremes is in this - as in most instances - very near, or quite the truth.
The fact is, the Japan Maple, like our native species, covers a large number of varieties. Some of these are entirely hardy as far north as Massachusetts, others half-hardy, and still others adapted only for greenhouse culture. This covers the whole subject in a nutshell. Of the thirty varieties I have imported, as near as I can ascertain, about one-third belong to each class.
Of the hardy sorts, such as the Atropurpureum, Ornatum, Sanguineum, Aureum and Variegatum, there is little or no question as to their success where good plants are procured and the ordinary amount of care exercised in arranging and caring for them. On the other hand, if the tender or half-hardy varieties are planted in the open ground, the loss of the plants is not only the natural, but the inevitable result. Nature is as positive in this as in her other conditions, and we should learn her requirements more fully, before attributing failure to a foreign and inapplicable cause.
Plants of the hardy varieties were put out in exposed situations about Boston, on the Hudson, and other severe locations, five or six years ago. Without any protection, or even preparation of the soil, they stand to-day in a wealth of foliage and perfect vigor, the admiration of every beholder.
If this does not prove their hardiness beyond question, will some skeptic who believes they should all be treated as exotics, kindly inform us what kind of proof he needs?
New York City, Aug., 1884.
[All the Japan Maples are exotics. None are indigenous to our country. The term "hardy" is one of wide application. As a general rule, in most people's minds, it will mean, when we are speaking of trees or shrubs, such as will stand pretty rough weather at a temperature of about zero. To the best of our belief, all the Japan Maples may be called hardy in this sense. If there be any kinds that will be generally killed, we shall want to insist on the qualification. Under that condition, we should be glad of a list of the varieties. - Ed. G. M].