Meet the Gardener

Her specialties are Japanese maples and bamboo

By: Gloria Young, Home & Garden
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Laurie Meyerpeter has been gardening since she was 7 years old. I started growing sweet potatoes in jars. I put shriveled potatoes into pots of dirt and they grew, she said recently. My mom was so nice, she even cooked the resulting potatoes for me, even though they were about the size of pennies. For the past three years, Meyerpeter has worked at Lake's Nursery in Newcastle, which specializes in bamboo and Japanese maples." They're very special trees, she said of the maples. There are hundreds of varieties. There are Japanese maples for everyone. They come in every size from bonsai to 25 and 30 feet. They come in red, green, orange, yellow and pink. You can even gets trees that have red bark in the winter. They're also very grower friendly. They're very deep rooted, they don't tend to harm foundations and don't tend to pull up sidewalks, Meyerpeter said. They are pretty disease free but need good drainage. They aren't drought tolerant. They like the shade. Some will tolerate the sun. Late fall and winter are ideal for buying Japanese maples, but spring is best because that's when the selection is best, she said. Then there's bamboo. It is just a really unique and beautiful plant, she said. Running bamboo needs a careful eye to keep it contained. But clumping bamboo is much easier to control. If you can grow citrus, you can grow clumping bamboo, Meyerpeter said. You grow it for the stalks and it gives a tropical or Asian look. It sounds really beautiful in the wind. It can be a really nice green or specimen plant. It can even grow in a pot. Meyerpeter has taken a lot of horticulture classes and last year she completed training to become a master gardener. I decided to become a master gardener because it is a way to give back and it is definitely the most fun, she said. I like to help other people become successful gardeners. I help at booths and I help on the hotline. I like answering questions. The master gardener training program is given every other year, according to Jerry Edwards, who was answering the group's hotline this week. It is 16 weeks of four-hour sessions, he said. There are lectures, practical exercises and field trips. It's pretty intense, so you can't really miss any of the training. Petermeyer, a Placer County resident since 1979, lives in rural Lincoln where she indulges her fascination with her favorite tree. I have an obsessive number of Japanese maples, she said. I have a succulent collection I inherited from my grandfather who was a nurseryman. I have a nice fruit orchard. I especially like persimmons. Her four children range in age from high school and college to graduate school. None of them like plants, she said.