When Redbird Gale (Marr) Myers ’77 returned from a trip to Japan to find that her husband had purchased 10 Japanese maple trees, she had no idea that number would increase to 4,000.

Myers became interested in Japanese culture when she joined her teenage daughter in taking Japanese classes and later traveled to Ashikaga, Japan, the sister city of her Springfield hometown. She returned to find David’s surprise. The two, shown above, soon began collecting the trees.

Appears In

They’re beautiful and there’s such a variety,” Myers said. “Being an art major at ISU opened my eyes to the beauty of things around me in artwork, nature, and everything else.”

The couple traveled to nurseries to learn about Japanese maples. They became experts and started selling them online across the country.

They had six greenhouses on their property before purchasing 22 acres and establishing Davidsan’s Japanese Maples LLC. “We were the largest retailer of Japanese maple trees in the country. We had 26 greenhouses full of about 5,000 trees,” Myers said.

Left with the business after David died from cancer in 2017, she decided to gift the trees. Several hundred were planted at the University of Illinois-Springfield.

Others went to park districts; Lincoln Land Community College; and Illinois State’s Ewing Cultural Center, Fell Arboretum, and the Horticulture Center. She also gifted granite sculptures to ISU.

“I am thrilled to have my trees at Illinois State where I graduated. It’ll be almost a legacy to have for me there,” said Myers, who closed the business and retired.

“Having these Japanese maples on three different locations on campus helps broaden our horizons. If people visit the Horticulture Center and see the trees there, then it encourages them to visit Fell Arboretum or the Ewing Cultural Center,” said Ewing Cultural Center Director Toni Tucker. “These trees create a synergy we can share together to broaden our community.”