"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 had a great time at InVigorateU earlier this week! There were so many interesting speakers and fantastic networking opportunities. Here are a few highlights we took away from the event:

  • Keynote speaker Dr. Charlie Hall from Texas A&M gave a thorough analysis of our hort industry economy and projections for the future. Labor continues to be a big issue for our businesses with currently over 15 million job vacancies in the US waiting to be filled.  Input costs to our industry have risen 22% in recent years but prices are not keep up which results in shrinking margins. Next recession prediction… possibly 2021. Take away – be ready to manage working capital. Here is a link to Dr. Hall’s presentation if you want to learn more: https://www.illinoisgreen.net/assets/InVigorateU/InvigorateU-Hall.pdf
  • Nancy Buley from J. Frank Schmidt Nursery highlighted some new tree varieties to keep your eye on. Here is a link to the trees: http://www.jfschmidt.com/pdfs/2019_InVigorateU_JFS.pdf
  • In a second presentation, Nancy explained to timeline to market for trees from development to final production. It was fascinating to see the process from start to finish. Did you know that Espresso Kentucky Coffeetree to 20 years from discovery, to R&D, to available production liners??? Then add on production here in the Midwest of another 5 years. Or did you know that Valley Forge Elm took 34 years total to produce a 3.0″ tree??? Here is a link to some more info: http://jfschmidt.com/pdfs/TreesToMarket-IVU-2019.pdf
  • Melissa Custic from Morton Arboretu shared an interesting link to Witness Trees in Illinois: http://chicagorti.org/WitnessTrees  This program is a follow up to a land survey from the 1800’s done in Illinois. Fascinating stuff!
  • Lydia Scott from Morton Arboretum presented an update from CRTI. They are estimating the need for 28 million additional trees to be planted in the Chicago region in coming years. That’s about 12 trees/person! There has been a 17% decline in the Oak ecosystem over time, along with pest threats like EAB, invasive species, and an overall aging canopy. PLANT TREES is on the agenda and as growers it is an exciting time to figure out how to meet the need. You can read more about the CRTI Master Plan 2050 here: http://chicagorti.org/
  • In the LA room, I got to see a former U of I classmate, Mark Dwyer, from Rotary Gardens present on Healing Gardens. It brought me back to my roots of design and was exciting to hear about the therapeutic benefits of plants. I cannot wait to go visit his beautiful gardens this summer!

All in all it was a packed few days with so much more to talk about! Feel free to reach out to me if you want to know more about any of the presentations. There was so much more that I didn’t even touch on in this post!

Becky Thomas

Our SGN booth all set up and ready to talk trees!
Our SGN booth all set up and ready to talk trees!
A great group! Steve Worth, Nancy Buley, Dr. Charlie Hall, Mark Ringhouse, & Becky Thomas
A great group! Steve Worth, Nancy Buley, Dr. Charlie Hall, Mark Ringhouse, & Becky Thomas

Some great green industry events are coming up that you will find Spring Grove Nursery at!

InVigorateU 2019 Jan 14-15 Normal

Many of you have attended this educational event in the past and have felt it was a worthwhile time spent learning alongside fellow green industry colleagues. The line up of speakers this year looks to be interesting & relevant for our industry. We are excited to hear renowned Ag Economist Dr. Charlie Hall from Texas A&M and Nancy Buley from J. Frank Schmidt, just to name a few!  We hope to see many of you there again. Register now online!

iLandscape 2019 Jan 30-Feb 1 Schaumburg

We will be at BOOTH #1115 at the iLandscape Show this year. Please stop by and visit us!

14th Annual Chuck Tosovsky Tribute Dinner Jan 29 Cooper’s Hawk, Arlington Heights

The annual Chuck Tosovsky Tribute Dinner is held in conjunction with the iLandscape Show. This year’s honoree is Platt Hill from Platt Hill Nursery.  The proceeds from the event will go to support public policy efforts for the green industry in IL.  Again, I hope to see many of your there to support our industry and our association.

We hope to see you at some of these Green Industry events this winter!

just listed

We loved hosting the H.O.P.E. Program today at the nursery! Together with iTrees.com we spent the day teaching Horticulture students about our 2 businesses. They experienced tree production from the liner stage through the end planting stage in a customer’s yard. Thanks to Roger Purcell from J. Frank Schmidt Nursery for sharing his expertise with the students today. It was chilly but everyone got lots of hands on experience & hopefully learned a bunch!

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While on vacation out west this summer, we were able to stop in for a visit to one of our favorite suppliers J. Frank Schmidt Nursery near Portland, Oregon.

It’s always a treat to see our next crops of trees in the beginning stages. Everything looks beautiful & innovative as always in their fields. Thanks Nancy Buley & Sam Doane for the awesome tour!

Redpointe Red Maples for next season
Redpointe Red Maples for next season
Mt. Hood beautifully in the distance!
Mt. Hood beautifully in the distance!
Root bag grown Oaks
Root bag grown Oaks
Root pouch grown Chinkapin Oaks for 2020
Root pouch grown Chinkapin Oaks for 2020
Root bag grown Oaks for 2019
Root bag grown Oaks for 2019
Jamie & Becky at J. Frank Schmidt Nursery
Jamie & Becky at J. Frank Schmidt Nursery

One of our liner suppliers, J. Frank Schmidt Nursery in Oregon said it first… Trees are the Answer! And we couldn’t agree more! 

Trees really are the answer, and as Green Industry professionals it is our job to make sure our customers and our community knows that!  There are many ways to share the great news about the benefits of trees to our communities.  We put together a few resources that we often share.  Click below for links to some pdf files that you are welcome to use & share:


We also put together a fun video slideshow of some of our tree plantings with kids over the years. Check out  our ARBOR DAY VIDEO for a look at some of our plantings.  We made the video on animoto.com. Videos are really easy to make on their site & cost only $3! If you are looking for a way to share photos from some of your community events or to showcase tree projects, that website is a great resource.

Another great local resource in Illinois is the Morton Arboretum.  We found lots of great tree facts & links on their website – check it out at http://www.mortonarb.org/learn-experience/educators/arbor-day-classroom

Finally, the official “Trees are the Answer” people at J. Frank Schmidt Nursery in Oregon have a great website full of tree info – check it out at www.jfschmidt.com/treesaretheanswer/

However you choose to celebrate the year, have fun & Happy Arbor Day!

Seneca Arbor Day 2015 - Copy

Spring has arrived at Spring Grove Nursery! We are in full swing of planting & digging now. The crews are also keeping up with pulling the trees in from the field to stage for shipping. We are already done digging several ornamentals and moving along with shade trees. 

Our new crop of liners has arrived and is already planted! We could not be more happy with how perfectly the crop went into the ground. For more on planting check out our PLANTING 2018 VIDEO

As we continue digging, we will also start shipping soon. We will be pulling the trees in from the field to our loading area & our Holding Yard.

If you have projects coming up that you need trees for this spring, now is the time to get your order in. Please don’t hesitate to call. Thanks & have a great spring!

Tree Planting 2018


What a great season for tree planting we had this year in the nursery! Throughout the last few weeks we were able to get a new crop planted into the nursery for the future. The liners looked beautiful & the weather cooperated well for us. Our crews worked hard and did a great job. Our son Joey even recruited some of his varsity basketball team to spend their spring break in the nursery!

Some new varieties we are excited to be trying out this spring are Spaeth’s Alder, Emerald Avenue Pyramidal Hornbeam, Fire King American Hornbeam, Heartland Catalpa, Red Fox Katsuratree, True North Kentucky Coffeetree, Sparkling Sprite Crababpple… just to name a few.

We would like to thank our liner growers who we value as partners in our business. We planted great liners from J. Frank Schmidt Nursery, Carlton Plants,  Robinson Nursery and Kuenzi Turf & Nursery.

Please enjoy our new planting video of scenes from the field during planting. Now we are ready for some sunshine & rain!

Tune Credits “Running Down a Dream” Tom Petty

We recently attended the Iowa State Shade Tree Short Course and were treated to some excellent educational opportunities. One of our favorite presentations was by Guy Meacham from J. Frank Schmidt Nursery. Guy is the New Plant Development Manager for the nursery, and he shared some of the recent new introductions to come out of the nursery breeding & selection program. We have been planting J. Frank Schmidt nursery liners since the beginning of our nursery, and we are always excited to try new varieties. 

Guy shared how the plant breeding and selection process takes many years – sometimes over 20 – to find and select a new tree variety. Through careful observation in the landscape and breeding methods in the nursery, superior specimens are chosen for particular traits. The end result is often a tree that exhibits better color, habit, tolerance or beauty than the straight species. 

At Spring Grove Nursery we grow over half of the trees Guy featured in his presentation. We are always eager to try new varieties that we think will perform well in our nursery and for our customers in the landscape. Click the link to Guy’s presentation for his full list. The varieties that we are currently growing are Northern Glow Maple, Armstrong Gold Maple, Redpointe Maple, Crimson Sunset Maple, Urban Sunset Maple, Emerald Avenue Hornbeam, Heartland Catalpa, Prairie Sentinel Hackberry, June Snow Dogwood, Espresso Kentucky Coffeetree, Emerald City Tulip Tree, Royal Raindrops Crabapple, Afterburner Tupelo, Autumn Treasure Hophornbeam, Mountain Sentinel Aspen, Pink Flair Cherry, American Dream Oak, Beacon Oak, Urban Pinnacle Oak, Crimson Spire Oak, Streetspire Oak, Green Whisper Bald Cypress, Emerald Sunshine Elm. 

Thanks Guy Meacham for a great presentation. Keep up the good work finding new trees for us to grow!

2018 Iowa State Short Course JFS Handout

Schmidt New Trees

Did you know that in Illinois October is Oak Awareness Month? AKA OAKtober as designated by Gov. Bruce Rauner a few years ago. To celebrate, we would like to feature a few of our favorite new Oak hybrids here at the nursery.

For more on OAKtober, you can also check out this link from the Morton Arboretum: OAKtober 

For pictures & descriptions of the Oaks we are growing here at the nursery check out our Oak Photo Gallery 

American Dream Oak – Quercus bicolor ‘JFS-KW12’

50′ x 40′ – This new Swamp White Oak cultivar developed by J. Frank Schmidt Nursery was selected for strong resistance to anthracnose & powdery mildew resistance. As a grower, we love the branching consistency in the field. It also has a great shaggy bark with very glossy green leaves.

Streetspire Oak – Quercus robur x Q. alba ‘JFS-KW1QX’

45′ x 14′ – Similar to Crimson Spire Oak, it is another J. Frank Schmidt Nursery introduction. It differs in that it does not hold it’s foliage through winter. It has wider branch angles making it more storm resistant. The red fall color is another great feature of this tree.

Kindred Spirit Oak – Q. robur x Q. bicolor ‘Nadler’

30′ x 6′ – This Oak is one of the tightest columnar trees. It is a sister seedling to the Regal Prince but with a tighter form. The mildew & drought resistant features coupled with the form make it an excellent choice for narrow urban streets.

Heritage Oak – Quercus macdanielli ‘Clemons’ 

50′ x 40′ – The Heritage Oak has handsome dark green foliage which is very mildew resistant. It is an English and Bur Oak hybrid with excellent cold tolerance. The pyramidal form makes it a good street tree Oak.

American Dream Oak
American Dream Oak
Streetspire Oak
Streetspire Oak
Kindred Spirit Oak
Kindred Spirit Oak
Heritage Oak
Heritage Oak