"Growing trees is as much an art as it is a science." - Becky Thomas
"When you plant a tree, you plant a legacy," - Pepper Provanzano
"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

We recently posted a list of “Tried & True” Trees. The list highlights trees we have found to perform well in our nursery and in the landscape. These trees seem to adapt well to the extreme climate fluctuations we have experienced in recent years here in our fields. As we expect this trend to continue, we are always evaluating which selections seem to thrive despite a wide range of extremes.   Everything we grow here at the nursery is worth merit, or we wouldn’t grow it! These are just a few selections that have caught our attention in recent years.

Every month we will feature a few of our “Tried & True” favorites. Since it’s fall, we will highlight a few this month that really shine in the landscape this time of year. Our November favorites are:

“Tried & True” Favorite – State Street Maple

Acer miyabei ‘Morton’ – 50′ x 35′ – The State Street Maple is a Morton Arboretum release & Chicagoland Grows introduction bred for excellent urban tolerance & beauty. The textured bark is complimented by its bright green leaves that turn golden yellow in the fall. We particularly like this in the nursery due to it’s easy branch structure, reliable growth rate and success of transplant in the landscape. We have seen no pest or disease problems, and we really like the color & texture it adds to the landscape every season – but especially in the fall!

“Tried & True” Favorite – Pacific Sunset Maple

Acer truncatum x A. platanoides ‘Warrensred’ – 30′ x 25′ – The Pacific Sunset Maple is a J. Frank Schmidt Nursery introduction. This hybrid Maple brings the best of 2 trees – the Shantung & Norway Maples. We are also starting to grow a similar hybrid – Urban Sunset Maple, which will stay more narrow at maturity. The outstanding glossy green foliage of Pacific Sunset turns magnificent shades of yellow, orange & red in the fall. The small-medium size of the tree makes it an excellent choice for the landscape. The easy growth in the nursery coupled with the fall color, makes this maple hard to beat! 

“Tried & True” Favorites – Bald Cypress

Taxodium distichum – 55′ x 30′ – The Bald Cypress grows well in wet areas but is hardy enough to tolerate a wide range of conditions, even drought. It is a deciduous evergreen that turns rusty brown in fall & has a shaggy brown bark. In the nursery, this tree has thrived in both wet or dry conditions and is quick to caliper up. The unique shedding of needles in the fall adds a splash of color followed by a highlight of the shaggy brown bark. Bald Cypress is a unique fall beauty!

“Tried & True” Favorite – American Hornbeam

Carpinus caroliniana – 25′ x 20′ – This US native is also known as Ironwood, Blue Beech or Musclewood. The smooth gray fluted bark adds interest as well as the outstanding red-orange fall color. In the nursery, American Hornbeam grows very consistant & trouble-free. There are no pest or disease issues. This fall beauty shines in every season and is a great small tree choice for our landscape!

“Tried & True” Favorite – Redpointe Red Maple

Acer rubrum ‘Frank Jr’ – 45′ x 30′ – A new J.Frank Schmidt Nursery introduction, Redpointe combines the faster growth of Acer x freemanii with an outstanding red fall color. The shape is broadly pyramidal. What fall landscape would not be complete without the spectacular display of a Red Maple? This is hands down our favorite variety to grow in the nursery because of its uniform branching, ease of growth, clean foliage and reliable performance. And fall color? Well that speaks for itself!

Please click on this link below for more about selections at the nursery:
Species Diversity Selections & “Tried and True” Trees

We invite you to come out to the nursery anytime to see our fall favorites in the field!

State Street Maple
State Street Maple

 

Pacific Sunset Maple
Pacific Sunset Maple

 

Bald Cypress in Fall
Bald Cypress in Fall

 

American Hornbeam
American Hornbeam

 

Redpointe Red Maple
Redpointe Red Maple

 

Impact Washington hosted by American Hort brought together growers from around the country for a 2 day event filled with advocacy & education. We heard from lawmakers about key issues that affect our industry, and we had the opportunity to meet in congressional offices and have more intimate conversations about how these issues impact our businesses. The experience was informative, productive, enlightening and quite frankly INSPIRING!

I wanted to summarize a bit of what we experienced and touch on the key points I feel are important to share with my fellow nursery growers. Critical issues are at play right now in Washington, and as an industry to need to be aware, be educated and mostly be united in conveying our message to both lawmakers and the public. This may be important now more that ever.

To start out just some background… American Hort hosted Impact 17 and 25 states were present representing a range of nursery operations and suppliers. Together we had over 150 congressional appointments scheduled. Illinois led the largest delegation with 15 of us attending. From IL we had the following companies represented:

  • Hortica – Traci Dooley
  • Home Nursery – Elvin Martinez, Ann Tosovsky, David Bender, Dennis Molitor
  • Midwest Ground Covers & Midwest Trading – Peter Orum, Christa Orum-Keller, Gary Knosher, Joe Hobson
  • Doty Nurseries – Ken Doty
  • Darwin Perennials – Mike Klopmeyer
  • Ball Publishing – Jennifer Zurko
  • Ball Horticultural – Marvin Miller
  • Spring Grove Nursery – Becky Thomas & Maggie Thomas 

There were 3 main issues we learned about and then advocated on behalf of our industry: Horticulture Research, Tax Reform and Immigration Reform. I think it is important to share some of the key points on each of these issues.

Horticulture Research

Nursery & greenhouse crops represent 15% of agriculture in the US, yet we receive less than 1% of total USDA research dollars. The research dollars we do receive are critical in allowing our industry to innovate and produce healthy crops. We specifically advocated for continued support of research dollars through USDA-ARS and the new Farm Bill. Read more about this issue here: Horticultural Research & Innovation

Tax Reform

Boring topic… maybe? Hard to fully understand sometimes… probably? Critical to our operations… ABSOLUTELY! Tax reform is front & center right now in Washington and there are several key items being tossed around which can directly impact our industry – both good & bad. It is imperative that we stay on top of any new reform proposals to insure our industry is protected. Most importantly we advocated for cash accounting & interest expense deductions to remain in place. We conveyed our support of repealing the Estate Tax. Read more about this issue here: Tax Reform

Immigration Reform

This is a hot button issue right now and will take the most work as an industry to push for. We need to become educated and convey our story. After attending Impact 17 it became obvious that there is a huge disconnect between the reality & the perception of this issue. But on the flip side, it became obvious that there is an incredible opportunity RIGHT NOW to make some progress on real immigration reforms.  I think our industry in particular has an important story to tell and one of the best things we can all be doing for our employees and our communities is to step up and work together for true labor reform. Here are some key points we learned which need to be shared:

  • Our industry is experiencing a labor shortage across the board – and the Senators & Representatives we met with said they are hearing that from other industries as well.
  • Our workforce is aging and the demographics in both the US & Mexico point to an aging workforce for years to come.
  • Unemployment in the US is currently 4.4% which is low
  • The US Dept of Labor released new numbers this week showing there are currently 6.17 million un-filled jobs in the US
  • Estimates show that over 50% of the current Ag workforce in the US may be illegally present. Some estimates show up to 12 million undocumented workers are currently in the US.
  • Every H2B seasonal worker creates & sustains 4.64 full time American jobs.
  • The lack of labor is inhibiting growth of business in the US

So those are a few key points to understand and convey. Through the conversations and talks we had these few days we heard over & over that a comprehensive immigration package which addresses all of the issues at once might be unlikely. We may have to look at the individual pieces of this separately to make some headway. And we may have to be willing to compromise on things to be able to move forward. There are some reform bills on the horizon and it is IMPERATIVE that as an industry we stay on top of this so that our concerns are heard and understood. We all know the green industry workforce is already tight If we want to keep the one we currently have and possibly grow it more, we need to be at the table when new programs are being designed. Read more about this issue here: Securing the Workforce

American Hort also put together some intelligent & relevant speakers for us to address these issues. The highlights were:

  • Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan – Mexican Ambassador to the US 2007-2013
  • Representative Rodney Davis – R-IL serving as Chairman of the House Ag Subcommittee on Biotech, Hort, & Research
  • Ray Starling – Special Asst. to the President for Ag, Trade and Food Assistance. He works directly with Sec of Ag Sonny Perdue
  • Senator Thom Tillis – NC Senator on Judiciary Committee working on immigration & visa programs

We also met with Senate & House offices. The IL team met with both Senator Durbin’s & Senator Duckworth’s aides. The meetings were extremely productive and well received. Then our team divided into two groups to meet with Representatives Rodney Davis, Shimkus, Bost, Lahood, Bustos, Roskam, Hultgren, Schnider, Danny Davis, Quigley and Guitierrez. In some cases we met the Representatives and in others their aides. Again all of the meetings were productive and it was apparent that more education about our industry was helpful for them to hear & understand. 

Going forward as a green industry in Illinois, we should all create opportunities to invite our Senators, Representatives and their staff into our operations. They want to understand these issues and see how their work in Washington affects our communities & businesses here in Illinois. Together we need to be united and involved in our state association, the Illinois Green Industry Association. The IGIA represents nurseries, greenhouses, landscapers, garden centers and green industry suppliers from across the state. Beyond that, American Hort represents our industry on a national level. Together our voices are more powerful in both Springfield & Washington. Through these associations you can also find access to the education and updates you need to stay on top of the issues that are going to affect your day to day operations and your employees.

I would be happy to talk more about any of these issues or the Impact event in general. Please feel free to call me at the office at 815-448-2097 to find out more about advocacy and how you can get involved.

I hope that you will join me in working together to make an IMPACT!

Becky Thomas

Below are a few pics from the Impact 17 Event – Enjoy!

American Hort Impact Washington 2017 (2) American Hort Impact Washington 2017 (3) American Hort Impact Washington 2017 (4) American Hort Impact Washington 2017 (5) American Hort Impact Washington 2017 (6) American Hort Impact Washington 2017 (7) American Hort Impact Washington 2017 (8) American Hort Impact Washington 2017 (9) American Hort Impact Washington 2017 (10) American Hort Impact Washington 2017 (11) American Hort Impact Washington 2017 (12) American Hort Impact Washington 2017 (13) American Hort Impact Washington 2017 (1)

 

 

Counts--Measures

We have been busy counting & measuring out in the field and we are pleased to report that the numbers don’t lie… we have a great crop of trees ready to plug in to your fall or spring equations!  We found terrific growth in the field on many varieties. But at the same time, the demand for trees has grown tremendously as well, so now is the time to get your orders for both Fall 2017 & Spring 2018 in!

Please take a look at our new Fall 2017 Availability as you make your upcoming tree project plans. If you send us a list of trees you are looking for this fall or next spring, we will compare with our field numbers right away so that you can secure the trees you need.  We also have a healthy selection of trees above ground ready to go right now. We dug extra trees this spring not readily available from the field in the fall such as Birch, Oaks, Pear, etc. Those trees look great & can be used in your fall projects!

Please join us here in the field anytime for a first-hand look at how well our trees are adding up here at the nursery!

The nursery is growing along nicely as the summer sets in! We have had timely rains coupled with some good heat to help the trees push along on their new growth.  Our summer field work of pruning & staking is going well. We are very happy with the structure & growth that is coming on our new crop of trees in the field.

This time of year we start to get caught up on our spraying, cultivating, &  mowing as well. The nursey is starting to take shape and it’s nice to see the fields looking healthy & clean!

Pictured here are some Regal Prince Oaks coming on for next year. We have some beautiful Oak varieties growing in our field. Some of our new favorites are Heritage Oak, American Dream Oak, & Streetspire Oak.  Be sure to look for more of those to be ready next spring!

We welcome you to stop by the nursery for a visit. It’s a great time of year to see the trees we have growing for the future!

Regal Prince Oak

Seneca Arbor Day 2015 - CopyAt Spring Grove Nursery, we love Arbor Day!  In 2017 we will be celebrating our 14th year of planting trees with kids on Arbor Day! Here is a link to the flyer we share with the kids to teach about trees:

Arbor Day Celebration 2017

You can also see more pics of the fun plantings in our ARBOR DAY PHOTO GALLERY. Enjoy!

To learn more about the benefits of trees, check out our Tree Resource Page for more or our Social, Economic, & Environmental Benefits of Trees Info Sheet.

Here are a few more links to articles about our plantings at schools. It’s fun to remember the kids & trees over the years!

Arbor Day Article 2010   

Arbor Day Article 2015   

Arbor Day Article 2009   

Arbor Day Thank You   

Arbor Day Article 2013   

Arbor+Day+2007+newspaper

Finally, you can also learn more at Arbor Day website https://www.arborday.org/

Happy Planting!

 

Spring Grove NurseryWe have a great Above Ground Holding Yard full with trees ready to ship for your upcoming projects this season! Now that digging is over & everything has been pulled in from the field, our final counts are in. Please take a look at our AVAILABILITY LINK for the latest sizes & varieties fresh from the field.  Make sure to take a close look as there are trees available now that we may not have had on earlier availabilities.

We made sure to dig an extra supply of trees not normally available in the fall like Oaks, Birch, Pear, & Hawthorn. Now is a good time to secure the trees you will need for projects this season, even if they will not be shipping out until later.

Take note of our SPRING SALE on select trees above ground now! Our Holding Yard is very well maintained. The trees are all on drip irrigation, and we keep them fresh & healthy looking for when you need them.  

With over 600 trees to choose from there is certainly something here for every project you need this season!

We started planting this past weekend & got our new Spruce all settled in. Deciduous planting starts tomorrow! We received 2 loads today – check out this picture of some new Butterflies Magnolia which we are looking forward to lining out this year. The buds are ready to pop!

Spruce Planting
Spruce Planting
Butterflies Magnolia
Butterflies Magnolia