Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - 50

LEFT: Matt Nichols was in Japan in 2016, where
he and his brother were filmed for a Japanese TV
show, thanks to their love of Japanese maple trees.
BELOW: Norman Nichols, center, examines a
young tree in the nursery with his sons, Matt, left,
and Tim.

At this point, it's quite a collection:
some 50,000 maple trees of more
than 1,200 cultivars.
says. "We have always been very close. We
grew up collecting all kinds of nerdy stuff.
Collecting maples fit right in."
At this point, it's quite a collection:
some 50,000 maple trees of more than
1,200 cultivars. None are invasive species.
"For years, people would say, "Why
are you growing over 1,000 different cultivars of Japanese maples?" They thought
we had to do only the top 50 or 100 like
other nurseries. We enjoy producing all

TREE TIME

of them," explains Tim, a self-proclaimed
"tree nerd" and current president of the
Maple Society's North American branch.
Matt is a past president.
Their home in Western North Carolina
couldn't be better for their all-in-one hobby, business and passion. Six generations
of Nicholses have lived there, from their
great-great-grandfather in 1917 down to
Matt's two kids, both under 4.
Tim says it's home - "the mountains,

WHERE TO SEE GREAT TREES

Here's where brothers Matt and Tim Nichols recommend visiting in the
Hendersonville and Western North Carolina area if you want to enjoy some
serious tree beauty.
Bearwallow Mountain, near Chimney Rock: Uncommon native maple trees
like the moose maple (Acer spicatum) and snakebark maple (Acer pensylvanicum)
on one of Tim's favorite trails, with bonus mountaintop views.
Holmes Educational State Forest, Hendersonville: Great for families
because of the "talking trees" that tell visitors young and old more about
themselves.
Bullington Gardens, Hendersonville: Over a dozen maple cultivars plus
hiking trails, flowers and lush native habitat.
The North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville: Farther afield but plenty of trees
and scenic walks as well as an impressive bonsai collection. 		
-CR

50

BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

the four seasons, the fall color on the trees,
and my family" - and Matt agrees.
"I moved away briefly after college to
the beach for one year, and it gave me a
great deal of perspective on what I love
about our region," he says. "I think we
live in the perfect place. We have a great
climate for horticulture. Even during our
warmer summer days, we get cool nights
that give the plants a good recovery time.
This area actually shares a lot of similarities with many of the places in Japan maples are native to."
It was when Matt moved back home,
around 2008, that the two went into business together to form MrMaple.
"We grew slowly," Matt remembers,
"and eventually found our niche in online
sales. In our busier months, we ship out
over 600 boxes of plants a week."
They receive orders from all over, even
a few from celebrities, though they're not
naming names. They've been featured nationally on PBS and were invited to Japan
for a show about maples.
"It has been quite the adventure," Tim
adds. "We didn't know how many people
would come to visit and shop our nursery
from around the United States and around
the world."
But if they've found success, Matt says
it's because they've worked together.
"It's just a part of us and our family. My
grandmother never saw that the nursery
has become more than my dad's hobby,
but I take pride in knowing how much she
would love it."


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Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020

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