Sam, ‘The Maple Lady’ – Eastfork Nursery is family partnership between my husband Dave and myself [Sam]. We found our piece of Paradise on 13 acres in La Center, Washington in 1984 and started Eastfork Nursery the next year. The vision began when we first arrived in June 1984. During the first summer we were clearing our land of uglies – weeds, plus wild blackberries, thistles, and nettles, I began to visualize the landscape with maple trees, specifically Japanese Maples [JMs] planted in and around our large specimen Oaks and Firs. I didn’t want to cut down one tree. I wanted to add to nature and not take away.
I found out that the number of JMs I wanted would cost more than I could afford. So I got a wholesale nursery license so I could buy them at a wholesale price. Well, I wanted dozens of JMs and they still were too costly, as my new job in Vancouver, WA was entry level. The next thing I know Dave is putting up a greenhouse for me and we named the nursery – Eastfork because we live on the East Fork of the Lewis River in Southwest Washington State.
The JMs we first grew were common cultivars found everywhere in the Pacific NW. Then I met Talon Buchholz the owner of a wholesale nursery in Oregon and the best propagator of new cultivars in the U.S. With his help and guidance my knowledge and understanding of JMs went up a thousand percent. Talon introduced me to exciting new cultivars and soon Eastfork Nursery was the go-to-website for hard to find and rare specialty JMs.
Because in 1985 I had a full-time desk job – I was open by appointment only on weekends or early evenings during the summer. Then in 2006 I retired from my day job and created my own website and began shipping JMs all over the U.S. I guarantee my maples will arrive in good condition or I will refund the customer’s money or replace the maple. Necessity made me a ‘Master Packer’ and my customers appreciate the effort. I am still open by appointment and there is nothing more rewarding than walking with my customers around the our property and sharing my knowledge and reason for planting a specific maple in a specific location.
Over the last 10 years our inventory has evolved and we now sell more than 100 different cultivars and most of them are rare or hard to find at local retail nurseries and garden centers. My niche’ is growing rare and unusual JMs, thanks to Talon.
My husband and I have reached the golden age of 65 and we want to work less and play more – so I am reducing my inventory to a manageable level and we will limit the number of maples to be shipped each week. I am the nursery manager and operator. We now have 3 greenhouses and a 240 sf shade area. We have no employees, but I do hire a helper about 1 day a month to help with big projects, like putting the shade cloth on the green houses and outside shade structrure
How I became ‘The Maple Lady’. My name is Samantha, but I prefer Sam. It seemed to be a problem leaving a message for someone from Sam – which the customer at the other end presumed was short for Samuel. When they called back they seemed confused that I was a woman. So I would refer to myself as Lady Sam when leaving a message to call back and that became Sam – The Maple Lady.
Our Japanese Maples are relatively inexpensive compared to other websites. And we do not ship bare root – we ship all our maples in the containers they are growing in. It costs a little more to ship, but with the root ball intact transplant shock is reduced and the maple gets established sooner.
My maples are my babies. I buy grafted babies from Talon and then grow them to 1, 2, and 3 gallon size. I stake, prune and shape each maple from the time I get them until they are sold and adopted by a new family. I do not have larger maples because of shipping limitations. When a maple grows to big I sell them at local plant sales.
I found my ‘Passion’ – Japanese Maples provide beauty 6 months a year with ever changing leaf color and I love the people who love Japanese Maples.