How Plants Reach the Market
Today’s consumers are pretty demanding. When they shop for trees, they look for hardiness, vigour, pest and disease resistance, drought tolerance and big, long-lasting blooms. What’s more, they want instant gratification, mature trees and shrubs that are ready to put on a great show in the first season. To top it all off, they want these plants to require as little maintenance as possible. Of course, nurserymen and growers are gardeners, too, and they also desire each and every one of these features.
To meet consumer demand, large-scale growers across North America spend millions of dollars and man-hours to develop varieties that today’s gardener will take pride in growing and displaying. But even if you develop the world’s greatest varieties, you still need contacts to bring them to market.
That’s where nursery managers like Shane Neufeld come in. Every year, Shane goes on a fact-finding mission to one or more of North America’s largest commercial growers, searching for high quality plant material and outstanding new varieties. In July of 2002, Shane journeyed to Bailey Nurseries in St. Paul, Minnesota, to take a first-hand look at some of this year’s most exciting new tree and shrub varieties.
‘Blue Trail’ Juniper
While ‘Blue Trail’ isn’t new to the industry, this variety is fresh to our nursery, and we look forward to the first shipment of trees. As you can see, Bailey’s grows many of their trees using a “pot-in-pot” system. Each ‘Blue Trail’ juniper shown here is nestled in its own pot and then dropped into a second pot that’s buried in the ground. This system keeps the root zone cool and prevents the soil from drying out, reducing stress on the plants. They can be overwintered right in the ground. Using this method, the folks at Bailey’s can comfortably grow trees with 9-cm calipers within just five or six years.
In addition to the great vigour obtained thanks to these growing methods, ‘Blue Trail’ junipers feature an outstanding, improved, more intense colour than other junipers, as well as a more compact growing habit.
A Lucky Accident
‘Blue Trail’ is one of those lucky accidents of nature. It originated from a seed of the venerated ‘Rocky Mountain’ variety, but some quirk of genetics gave the new plant that emerged from this seed a very different look and growth habit.‘Blue Trail’ junipers must be propagated via cuttings from the original parent plant to retain the new variety’s outstanding characteristics.
Now that it’s again legal to import barberries into Canada, northern gardeners can finally enjoy a wide range of barberry varieties. ‘Concord’, with its gorgeous, deep burgundy foliage with a blue tinge (much like a Concord grape), is just now going into production at Bailey’s.
This amazing columnar Saskatoon is being considered for future production. It’s a very upright Saskatoon, with beautiful foliage and lots of blooms. Old growth is dark, bluish green, while new growth is a brighter emerald green. Fall colour is brilliant red.
This cedar keeps its juvenile foliage, resulting in a finer, softer, texture and more compact growth than traditional cedars. Excellent for small shrub beds or rock gardens.
‘Endless Summer’ Hydrangea
This is a particularly great hydrangea for northern gardeners. Most Macrophylla, or “big leaf” hydrangeas bloom on old wood—you can grow them in zone 3, for example—but the chances of seeing blooms is slim since the harsh winters kill the branches down to the snowline. (If there is no snow, the branches die back all the way to the ground!) With ‘Endless Summer’ that’s no longer a problem, since this variety produces blooms on new wood, which appears in the summer.
If grown in a container, these hydrangeas can be forced to change colour from pink to
blue with the addition of certain fertilizers. This unique hydrangea should hit the market
in the summer of 2003 or the spring of 2004.
‘Tiger Eye’ Sumac
This staghorn sumac has incredibly intense gold foliage, a colour previously unheard of for sumacs. ‘Tiger Eye’ would be an excellent addition to small shrub beds as an accent plant. They’re especially attractive when mixed with plants of purple or blue foliage. This variety should be available in 2004
Bailey’s uses soil that closely approximates the soil found in your garden. On the Bailey’s growing ranges these heavier soils retain water longer, resulting in a better quality plant. By growing their plants in heavy soils, Bailey’s is preparing these trees and shrubs for the home garden environment. They’re ready to roll, taking much less time to adjust to your garden than trees and shrubs grown in lighter soils.