"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

What a beautiful summer it has been in the nursery. The weather has been perfect for growing trees – timely rains, nice temps, plenty of sunshine… our fields looks great! Most of our initial pruning work is done. We are going back now and putting the finishing touches on some blocks of trees for future crops.

We have started our new fall inventory counts & measures. So far we are happy with what we are finding in the field. After we bring all of the numbers back from the field into the office, we can make our production decisions of which blocks to dig for this fall versus next spring. Our final field availability will be ready in a few weeks, and we will be ready to take some more fall or spring orders!

In the Above Ground Holding Yard the trees are still looking great! We have a diverse selection of trees available including several spring dig only trees like Oaks, Red Maples, Birch, Hornbeam, Dawn Redwood, Baldcypress, Redbud, etc. Everything is fresh and ready to go for fall planting projects.

Right now is a perfect time to visit the nursery. The weather is great, the trees look fantastic, and there still might be a little sweet corn hanging around! Please stop by anytime and we can show you what we have growing for you at Spring Grove Nursery!

Fall Visit 2018

The IGIA Summer Conference Retreat to Galena was a lovely few days! Several members made the trip to the rolling hills of northern Illinois for some fun in the sun, on the golf course and at a local winery. At the annual meeting current IGIA President Becky Thomas passed on the gavel to the new President Steve Worth from Kankakee Nursery. Becky now joins the ranks of outstanding Past Presidents at IGIA!

Everyone had a great time and we are already looking forward to next summer!

New IGIA President Steve Worth
New IGIA President Steve Worth
IGIA Past Presidents
IGIA Past Presidents
Fun on the lake!
Fun on the lake!
Beautiful vines at the winery!
Beautiful vines at the winery!
Becky Thomas & Laurie Damgaard at Galena Cellars
Becky Thomas & Laurie Damgaard at Galena Cellars
Gorgeous views at the winery
Gorgeous views at the winery
Outgoing IGIA President Becky Thomas & her best supporter Jamie Thomas
Outgoing IGIA President Becky Thomas & her best supporter Jamie Thomas
Lovely Italian dinner out with friends
Lovely Italian dinner out with friends

The nursery is growing along nicely as the summer sets in! Timely rains coupled with some good heat 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. The nursery is starting to take shape and it’s nice to see the fields looking healthy & clean!

Pictured here are some State Street Maples coming on for next year. The crops in the field have never looked better. We are very excited about what we will find when we start a new count & measure in August!

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!

State Street Maple
State Street Maple

Perfection is what we strive for at Spring Grove Nursery. Each tree in our nursery is given care & attention multiple times through their years here in our field. Pruning & staking are parts of the routine growing process that we pay special attention to. Different species require different growing techniques. And each season offers it’s own unique challenges that also affect the timing to our work. Here is a snapshot of what we are doing right now in the nursery:

YEAR 1 – Planting of liners

We just finished getting all of our newly planted trees (or liners as we call them) pruned & ready to grow. Our new liner crop was planted earlier this spring & they will grow on in the field for the next several years. The first initial pruning of the liners is a very important step in the development of the tree.

Our first pruning on liners usually consists of some key actions. We make sure to prune off any damaged or dead branches that occurred from shipping or planting. Next we limb up some of the bottoms branches to get the canopy closer to the height we want from the ground. Next we look at the top & establish a select a leader & adjust the overall height as needed. Then we do the structure work on the lateral branches by thinning out, shortening up, & removing branches as needed.

If the liner pruning is done properly, then the tree is off to a great start for it’s years here in our field. As we move through the blocks & complete the first step of structuring, our crews come behind & do a final touch up to make sure the tree is straight in the ground at the proper height.  Then we just wait for rain & sunshine to do their work & our new trees are ready to start growing!

Liner Pruning in the Nursery

YEARS 2-4 – Pruning & Staking

In our older crops in the field we are removing un-wanted branches, continuing leader work on the tops, un-staking trees & flexing them to build strength and re-staking them as needed. Pruning will continue all season long through multiple years as we prepare our next crops for the future.

Right now in June we just finished going through our Oaks. They were putting on lots of new growth due to the great growing weather this spring so some of them were starting to burst off their stakes. We lightened the tops & re-staked as needed. Similarly we are now going through Elms & Honeylocust. They also are very vigorous on top growth so we need to keep that in check with the caliper of the trunk so that the end result is strong & well balanced. Next we will be moving through some of our older ornamental blocks to do some finishing touches where needed.  We love to watch the trees grow & change through the years!

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!

Cover Crop

Our new crop of soybeans is up in the nursery! We use soybeans as our cover crop on areas in our field while the land is in between tree crops. The soybeans help add nitrogen back into the soil while holding our soil in place during the season as protection from wind & water erosion. Caring for our soil is a top priority at the nursery. 

As we have mentioned before, Becky is the 5th generation on our family farm. We have kept our farms productive & healthy for so long by taking the utmost care of our soil. Becky’s Dad, Doug Harford, was one of the first farmers in the US to implement no-till farm management into his corn & soybean operation. Through years of no-till farming, our soil has become naturally porous & rich in organic matter.

By using cover crops & minimal tillage in the nursery, we can continue the legacy of conservation started many years ago on our land. We also use grass strips between the trees rows for the years of production the trees are here. That practice also helps reduce soil erosion and uses minimal tillage. It also allows us the ability to avoid using pre-emergent herbicides as well. We are proud to pass on healthy soils to the next generation!

PS: Shout out to Becky’s brother, Chris Harford for planting & harvesting our soybeans. Thanks Bro!

IMG_5172

Now that June is here we are well on our way to field work!  Even though the weather this spring was strange, we are still on schedule in the field. We are in the full swing of pruning, mowing, spraying, etc. Summer is just around the corner! 

Our Holding Yard looks great & all of the trees that we have above ground have never looked better!  We have everything on drip irrigation and easily situated for tagging & loading. As we start out the month of June, we are still shipping out trees every day for customer projects.  On the sales end its been a great spring, and it seems to look like it will be busy into the summer. We are already taking orders for fall digging, and the new crop of trees coming along in the field looks terrific!

We just finished getting all of our newly planted trees (or liners as we call them) pruned & ready to grow! Our new liner crop was planted earlier this spring & they will grow on in the field for the next several years. The first initial pruning of the liners is a very important step in the development of the tree.

Our first pruning on liners usually consists of some key actions. We make sure to prune off any damaged or dead branches that occurred from shipping or planting. Next we limb up some of the bottoms branches to get the canopy closer to the height we want from the ground. Next we look at the top & establish a select a leader & adjust the overall height as needed. Then we do the structure work on the lateral branches by thinning out, shortening up, & removing branches as needed.

If the liner pruning is done properly, then the tree is off to a great start for it’s years here in our field. As we move through the blocks & complete the first step of structuring, our crews come behind & do a final touch up to make sure the tree is straight in the ground at the proper height.  Then we just wait for rain & sunshine to do their work & our new trees are ready to grow!

In our older crops in the field we are removing un-wanted branches, continuing leader work on the tops, un-staking trees & flexing them to build strength and re-staking them as needed. Pruning will continue all season long through multiple years as we prepare our next crops for the future. We love to watch the trees grow & change through the years!

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!

Liner Pruning in the Nursery

  • “It’s not easy being green”
  • “Green with envy”
  • “Love is evergreen”
  • “The grass is always greener”
  • “Green thumb”

The list goes on and on… Green is often thought of as the color of life, renewal, nature, and energy.  The color green symbolizes balance, nature, spring, and rebirth. Green is often associated with prosperity, freshness, and progress.

How many shades of green are there? According to Wikipedia there are about 74. In the nursery, the shades of green change throughout the season. Right now in the spring as all of the new growth emerges, the shades of green are the most vibrant of the entire season. The freshly popping foliage shines with a spring green like no other. Some trees emerge with a bright green that darkens as the season progresses. Others emerge with hints of purple or red mixed into the green and then evolve into a richer green throughout the summer. Whatever shade of green the leaves end up, there is nothing like that fresh green of spring!

So take time this spring to enjoy the various shades of green all around. The gorgeous greens emerging in the nursery right now help us to realize that it IS easy being green! We are in the Green Industry after all!

Spring Green (4) Spring Green (3) Spring Green (2) Spring Green (1) Spring Green (7) Spring Green (6) Spring Green (5)