So let’s talk first about what happens in a production field nursery in the spring…
But to do that, we need to back up a bit to winter…
Rise and Shine
Our trees have been dormant all winter, quietly awaiting their cue to wake up and begin a new season of growth. We too, have been dormant from the day to day operating in the field. We spend the winter months mostly indoors planning and preparing so that when our trees are ready, so are we. The trees dictate to us when it is time for us to start field work, and they tell us each day what needs to be done next. And when they decide to move, we have to stay one step ahead of them at all times. Springtime in a nursery is an insane process that only those who have done it can fully understand. From the time the ground thaws to when all of our trees are fully leafed out (usually about 6 weeks), our entire planting and harvesting production must be completed. If we miss a step along the way and do not get something harvested before it leafs out, then we can not harvest it until the following year. And if we do not plant our new crop in a timely manner, it will not thrive and grow well for us the next 4-5 years. Each day during the spring season is spent checking weather, making plans, working hard, fixing equipment breakdowns, being productive, checking weather again, changing plans – all outside rain or shine, cold or hot, windy or calm. Some days everything goes as planned. Other days… well, there’s always tomorrow!
The challenges of springtime often make us wonder why we are in this business. But those same challenges – and the entire process of what happens in the spring – is EXACTLY why we are in this business. We love trees, we love the outdoors, we love the magic of spring, and we love that this is our job. During the daily hustle of spring, our decisions are dictated on which tree species will begin to wake up next. If you dig them too soon they might not be ready, and you risk causing them to not leaf out at all. If you dig them too late, their newly emerged foliage may not receive the proper energy to continue growing properly. It’s a delicate balance, and it requires us to pay close attention to the trees for our cue about what to do next.
Last week I was walking around in the nursery looking for what was budding out next so that we could keep our digging crews moving ahead of the trees. When looking at the buds, I was struck by their intricate beauty. For that brief moment in time, the buds and flowers emerge with spectacular detail and quickly change into something completely different within a matter of days or even hours. Trees like Red Maples, usually admired for their fall foliage, have graceful flowers often overlooked in the spring landscape. Subtle stripes, colors, and textures envelope the outside of many buds but quickly change to become part of the leaf detail later. The pure and tender state of these buds and flowers only exists for that brief moment in time.
When I started out that day in a rush to find which buds were starting to pop, I wasn’t expecting to actually stop and appreciate the details before me. It was easy to get caught up in the task at hand and lose sight of wonders growing around us. I began my work that day trying to anticipate what we needed to dig next in the field. Instead I was caught off guard by a different kind of anticipation – one that was unfolding before me. This anticipation presented itself as a brief glimpse of what is yet to grow on the trees for the rest of the season. We generally focus all of our efforts on staying ahead of the process so that we can complete our field work tasks. For that afternoon, it was nice to actually recognize this anticipation as the true gift that it really is.
As we begin a new season of growth in the nursery, we hope that you can find moments of wonder, anticipation, and beauty in your every day. Here are some images (shot on my iPhone so not too fancy) to share from a brief moment in time in our field this spring.
One Spring Moment 2019