Now, why would I pick on such a beautiful and adaptable plant? Autumn Blaze Maples are probably our second best sellers. We don't really have to try to sell them. People just ask for them by name and we hook them up. Their name is probably the best example of good branding in the nursery industry. When people hear the name, they see the color. Being seedless, fast-growing and adaptable hasn't harmed their reputation either. In fact, it's hard to think of a better maple for heavy, clay soils. The only reason that people in our industry are concerned about Autumn Blaze Maples, is because Ashes and Elms used to be just as popular and prevalent. Durable, tolerant trees are being set up to fail in the landscape because there are just to darned many of them!
Let's say you really like lettuce and you plant a whole garden FULL of tasty greens. You're super excited and you begin day dreaming about all of the delicious and healthy salads you're going to make before germination even begins! What you didn't notice, is the momma rabbit living under your deck, who produced her own bumper crop at around the same time. Boy was she happy when she saw the lovely buffet you planted for her and her family! When they are finished, you will be forced to buy over-priced clam shells of limp greens at the grocery store.
How about this for a solution? The tree to the left is a Kentucky Coffeetree. There are several, seedless versions of it that have hit the market, under clever names like 'Espresso' and 'Decaf'. As you can see, these trees turn lovely shades of gold in the fall. Coffeetrees are really QUITE unusual. They produce bipinnately compound leaves that can reach up to several feet in length! Once the leaves drop, they reveal skeleton-like frames of deeply furrowed branches. With time, these woody, sub-structures become really impressive. After the compound leaves fall, their individual leaflets practically disintegrate, leaving behind just a central rib. Another cool thing about the Coffees, is their leguminous DNA. Legumes are generally able to absorb and store nitrogen in a way that other plants can't, which allows them to thrive in poor soils. At our nursery, we tend to plant them in high pH areas where other trees refuse to grow. While it can take some time for Coffeetrees to become grand specimens, they really grow at a pretty good rate. Perfect for shading decks and patios, their feathery foliage allows some sunlight through; so you can still enjoy the sun without being cooked by it. The only disappointing thing I can think of to tell you about them is that they don't produce coffee beans. Early settlers tried to make a palatable coffee substitute from their seeds and it didn't work out well enough to withstand the test of time. Coffeetrees are just one example of worthy trees that are not being over-planted. Hackberries, DED resistant Elms, Oaks and Honeylocusts are some other, great examples.