What's New and Exciting?

December 2021 List and Letter — 12/03/2021

December 2021

Dear Friends,

Uncertainty is to be the one certainty we can count on, labor & supply “chains” being jammed up. But let’s remember: we DO have considerable control over our own strategic goals and how to implement them with focused forward thinking. “Just in time inventory” has become an oxymoron. What a strange concept that now seems. We have to see quite a ways ahead, and around more corners too.

Like you, we’ve taken our own hard look at what we can grow with fewer labor options. We’ve cut marginally profitable items. Next, we’ll limit larger field-grown transplants of some primary items like field-budded maples & dogwoods to contract production only. We must reduce our dependence on field labor. If your order includes bare-root field transplants, especially in larger sizes, let’s talk. We’ll remind you, but begin to consider how/if it makes sense for you to bring in smaller liners to get them under your control, perhaps even a year earlier than you might have considered before. Help us understand your critical needs and what flexibility you may have on liner sizes.

Finally, we have temperatures now after Thanksgiving nearly in the 60’s outside today, a record for Oregon. Family in Kansas City have temps in the lower 70’s. This climate issue will continue to frustrate us all as extremes of temperature and rainfall become the norm. It is conceivable that we could be in the teens within 10 days, recalling the opposite 50-degree swing in temperature last summer when we endured 117 degrees and dying field budded maples. Whew!

So we’re protecting what we’ve grown all year long for you by harvesting field plants earlier than usual, getting them graded and cold-stored at 36°F under ZeroTol® - injected fog. Our crews are all healthy; we’re 100% vaccinated and have had not a single case of Covid originate within the nursery. We take care of each other here so we can take care of you/your orders. Count on that, and transparent communication from us at all times.

THANKS for your patience as we have taken a very careful inventory of stock late this fall in order to be able to confirm your order.

Have a Christmas and New Year holiday season filled with good rest, health, and gratifying time with family and friends. We hope to see many of you at MANTS in Baltimore.

All good wishes,

Mark, Jolly, & Staff

January 8th Focus Plants — 01/08/2021

Acer miyabei

Hardier than Acer campestre, to which it is most often compared, but of more appealing form and therefore requiring far less pruning in cultivation. Lacks the invasive character and obtrusive size of Acer platanoides. Very hard to find, it is an excellent urban tree. The best example in America (right) is at the Morton Arboretum in Chicago, a broadly upright tree at 30 ft. tall, dubbed State Street™. … a handsome plant by any measure.

Enkianthus perulatus

Enkianthus perulatus

Rare, choice upright shrub with heather-like, pure white flowers borne in clusters in April/May. Slender branches complement small leaves, giving it a delicate texture worthy of specimen status in any garden. In the company of azaleas, Kalmia, and camellias, it prefers an acidic soil in partial shade, and puts on a show of fall color to rival any of the best.

Acer miyabei

 — 12/22/2020

January 2021 

Dear Friends,

The prevailing sentiment seems to be that most are happy for 2020 hindsight. But while individuals and whole industries suffer the effects of Covid, we in the nursery trade are the beneficiaries of most people staying home and upgrading their “family space” - indoor and out.

For nurseries and garden centers, does it get better than this? Probably not, but not worse for plenty of reasons. Consider these few: 

  • As spring approaches the virus should abate. Wide vaccine distribution will surely give people relief and hope for a better summer than last. 
  • Low interest rate housing demand is high, fostering historic home prices that benefit the construction and landscape trades. Consumers who have a secure job are paying down debt. Young families are moving into homes vacated by aging boomers. All are auspicious for the nursery trade. 
  • Will investors re-purpose urban office and commercial space for expanded housing options? Where feasible, it seems likely, supporting demand for select landscape plants. 
  • Once Covid recedes, we’ll embrace in-person collaboration and sharing ideas over lunch, happy hour, and long overdue, in-person visits. Computer screens are no panacea, despite the present utility of Zoom. Grandparent travel alone will support a bump in the economy; so count on us boomers yet again!
  • Pent-up demand of all kinds will generate a bounce in the retail economy and important service trades. Can you imagine restaurant rebounds next summer and fall for those that have been cash-prudent, are creative, and just survive this winter?

Current nursery liner purchases are for sale more than a year out, on average. So it seems a great investment to pursue a growth strategy within your area of expertise and market niche. Buy liners now, or reconcile your business to a SOLD OUT sign on the door. Pretty obvious … it’s decision time. Lots of value items to choose from in this list. Take the time to give us a call about any items of interest.

Browse this list and book your order with us as soon as you feel confident of your budget, labor and space limits. Add to your present order when other liner suppliers cut your order with them in half. Trust us to be your reliable supplier with the integrity you have come to know from Heritage for 40 years.

From our family to yours, have a safe and HAPPY holiday season.

Mark, Jolly and Staff

November 2020 Availability list — 11/20/2020

Late Fall 2020

Dear Friends,

Happy Thanksgiving from Oregon! We choose to be thankful for all our many blessings … especially in this year of challenges to our sanity like none other.

Here in Oregon, we’re happy because wildfire is no longer on our doorstep, and the 2-week pall of choking smoke is behind us. Election ads are over; whew! We get to work outside where Covid risks are reduced. And almost all of us have had a banner production and sales year.

It seems that the fall colors are more vivid this year than ever, and our staff have been AMAZING, covering for each other and adapting to daily issues with calm and wisdom.

We note your orders with us to date are far earlier than in seasons past, a result of big bumps in garden center demand and low-interest rate housing construction. So it brings us to our own availability.

Like you, we’re sold out of a lot of items. So consider the many line items below - before many of those, too are booked.  

Fact is, as supplies tighten, it’s an opportunity, right? Take a calculated, careful risk: choose a selection of new items to engage your customers on items that may offer each of you a chance for more profit, items in addition to the commodity stuff. Substitutes and new choices offer us all that chance to discover for ourselves and our clients those gems we may overlook within plain sight. This is our specialty after all, so trust us to help you make appropriate choices for your zip code and your own market niche.

On Veteran’s Day there was a news feature about an Iowa fellow still flying his small plane –the oldest pilot in the world at age 99. Jolly and I were struck by his parting video comment, essentially: “Take a risk, and keep going forward.” …. wise advice from a fellow who has the experience to know.

So take a risk on some new items and depend on us for the basics, too. Order ahead for next season if you must.

We’ve got your back.

Mark, Jolly and Staff

November 2020 Focus Plants — 11/06/2020

Cornus kousa var. chinensis 'Snow Tower'®

A perfect street tree, given its narrow form - only 7 to 8 ft. wide after many years. In smaller landscapes, its columnar habit minimizes the likelihood of its crowding out other trees and perennials. Bear in mind all the additional features you've come to expect from Chinese Dogwood:

  • disease-free foliage
  • adaptability to nearly region within USDA Zones 5-8
  • sensational creamy flowers – what a long-lasting show!
  • attractive yellow and red fall fruit and foliage
  • transplant reliability

Finally, with its columnar shape, you can stuff more containers into a can yard or field – more profit per square foot than for spreading trees.

Betula nigra Heritage® 'Cully'

Betula nigra Heritage® 'Cully'

These lightly branched field transplants will explode with new growth next spring, so pot them up in a #10, at least. Triple them up in a #20, or plan for a mix of sizes to fit your own sense of demand.

Compacted or wet soils are often a challenge for landscape firms, so it pays to have these dependable trees ready for sale year-round at a handsome profit.

Ask for more details on additional items we still have before supply gets tight.

Cornus kousa var. chinensis 'Snow Tower'®

October 2020 Focus plants — 10/30/2020

For 2021, consider two American native trees noted below, one full size and one diminutive, more shrub-like.

Enhance your landscape tree selection. Keep loyal customers interested, reminded why they depend on you for the best in woodies, the newest varieties and the tried & true classics - hard to find connoisseur items that you can price at a significant premium. 

Aesculus parviflora

Bottlebrush Buckeye is a large shrub, usually 8-10 ft. tall. It tolerates deep shade and bears striking, upright narrow bottle brush-like blooms of gorgeous white set against the late spring foliage. Disease-free leaves perfectly accent the flowers. This is a surprisingly hard to find plant for a garden corner or border beneath larger trees, and makes excellent songbird nesting habitat. Although its small stature might suggest a tender nature, it’s remarkably hardy, tolerating winter lows to - 31°F.

Count on Heritage to offer this unusual native annually, but reserve your supply early, since we almost always sell out. This is a choice American native to reserve for your best customers.

Liquidambar styraciflua 'Gold Beacon'

Liquidambar styraciflua 'Gold Beacon'

Unique golden foliage in this American native sets it apart from all other sweetgums. Foliage emerges light green and quickly changes to golden color without summer leaf scorch. Autumn foliage is red and orange; growth is only a little slower than typical of the species.

Sweetgums aren’t head-turners, given their widespread landscape use and familiarity, but visitors to our greenhouse facility landscape always ask what it is, having never seen such a healthy specimen of bright golden color and no burnt foliage. Simply put, this tree sells itself, but you do have to get them into your inventory. Have us set aside yours today – give us a ring, or reserve them with our online order form.

Aesculus parviflora

October 2020 Focus Plants — 10/19/2020

Dear Friends,
To choose just two focus plants from our wide selection of amazing woodies is a challenge. So for fast-turn varieties, our staff chose 3-4 feet tall trees that highlight these characteristics always in robust demand:

COLOR: Acer shirasawanum Moonrise 'Munn 001' PP16,718

Among hundreds of varieties of Japanese maples, this remarkable variety is distinguished for its orange-red new growth and completely trouble-free nursery performance. Field visitors here see it from a hundred yards off with, "What's THAT?"
Such a classy maple merits pairing with an upscale container: perhaps a cedar box or large glazed pot set by a front entry or on the deck below a kitchen window. For the field, consider a grow bag or pot-in-pot for year-round sales.

Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata'

FLEXIBILITY: Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata' 

Let's put it this way: have you ever seen a dead one? Drought tolerant, soil adaptable, dependable, and a vigorous grower, it's the one nursery "fullback" tree performer that picks up 6 yards on every carry. These whips are prime candidates for you to line out or pot up for '21 sales in #5-7 pots. Demand for these liners has tripled in the recent few years, as growers experience their low labor input cost and complete sell-through.

Acer shirasawanum Moonrise ™ 'Munn 001' PP 16,718

Pickup Only 2020 — 05/15/2020

May, 2020 

Dear Friends,

Seems like early April was ages ago, given the constant drumbeat of negative news on the virus and unemployment numbers. So we want to give you a detailed update from Heritage …

Here, we insist that each staff member:

  1. Wash hands before leaving home
  2. Wear mask when commuting to work - if more than 1 per vehicle
  3. Wash hands when arriving on nursery property
  4. Before starting work, meet with supervisors to review work and how to maintain separation, wear PPE
  5. Keep 6-feet separation within small workgroups; clear poly barriers on transplanters where 6-foot separation is not possible
  6. Records all whom he/she encounters daily
  7. Wear masks all day when not eating or drinking; breaks not in communal areas with more than several crew in proximity
  8. Wash hands frequently, at least every break and lunch period
  9. Sanitize all common-use areas- lunch and bathroom facilities; doors, equipment handles, buttons, knobs, steering wheels
  10. Wash hands before departing work for home; masks mandatory on commute home

The same small workgroups work together daily. This facilitates tracing if someone becomes ill. So far, we’ve found these measures effective. We continue otherwise normal operations.

The good news:

  • We were initially anxious that we might have a rash of slow-pays, but accounts receivable - no problems at all.
  • Our sense is that among almost all in the trade, the mood is cautiously optimistic.
  • A surprising number of our customers are ordering already for fall, verifying that we’ll have product for them, securing their needs early to be assured of that. Generally these are our larger clients.
  • The nursery business seems to have benefited from people staying home, fixing up the house, gardening, and doing long-put-off maintenance around the house. That’s true at our own home, where Jolly and I spend more time communicating with managers by email and phone. Our garden has never looked so well kept and we’ve planted dozens of our newer varieties around the house. Mark and Jolly are more involved with managers than ever, investing in constant improvements, new variety development, and report analyses with key managers.
  • The company is in very capable hands, even if we are out for weeks at a time. Our managers work collaboratively in a very tight-knit communication culture and appreciate each other’s unique skill set and clear areas of management authority.

We want to reassure you that we are all-in this season, transplanting a record number of liners from plugs and smaller liners from last year’s crop so you’ll have a plentiful supply of items in several sizes. We’ve continued to replace outdated equipment, renovate our entire softwood cutting bench operation, irrigators in greenhouses, nozzles and valves in hoops, and keeping up with sanitary measures so you don’t get weeds or pests with our product. We’re upgrading staff training all the time and feel we now have our best group of managers and crew ever. Moreover, we have brought back more than a hundred items that we used to grow, but dropped in recent years due to limited sales. We’ll offer these “Connoisseur Plants” in limited quantities of 750 to 1,500 each. So look for that list later this summer and get your order in early for any that jump off the page. We’ll introduce quite a few new plants of our own selection in the seasons to come – columnar forms or unique items that have no trade equivalent.

This is an exciting place to work. We appreciate our staff and our customers; we love the plants, and Oregon is the perfect environment for us to operate. So even in more isolated circumstances now, we find ourselves looking up occasionally and musing, “Does life get better than this?” Maybe. We all work for that prospect. So we count our many blessings, thank our staff daily, thank you for your trust and your business, and wish each of you well.

What can we do for YOU? Peruse this list and let us know. Call or write, and book your order for fall or next spring. We’ll keep you updated via email, our website, and phone.

Kind regards,

Mark, Jolly & Staff

Nursery Media - Air in your mix...what's the big deal? — 01/29/2018View Details

Growers pay close attention to water and fertilizer. And we know that woody ornamental roots require a well-aerated growing mix - at least 20% free air space - to get enough oxygen to promote healthy growthand prevent disease. Yet, how often do growers neglect to seasonally monitor their mix for its porosity –its free air space after irrigation?

If you need to verify the porosity of your own mix, try this easy method. Keep detailed records for various crops, start to finish:

1. Choose several potted plants from a block to test. Tape over the pot drainage holes.

2. Carefully add water to each pot until you just begin to see it at the top of the container mix.

3. Without tilting the pot, remove the tape to catch the draining water for a minute or so.

4. Accurately determine the cc or ml volume of water using a small measuring cup.

5. Using the cm scale on your tape measure, determine your pot dimensions to calculate soil mix cc volume. Formula: πr 2 h (3.14 x average radius squared x mix height) for roughly cylindrical pots like a #1 or #3. For conical pots, the formula is the same, but divide result by 3.

6. Divide the collected cc’s of water by total soil cc volume. Multiply decimal result by 100 to get your percentage of unfilled pore space in the mix. (Air replaces all the water you collect.)

Consider how important AIR is to your potted woody profit experience…

What’s your test result? Most woodies grow best in a potting mix of 20-30% porosity. Root expansion and mix decomposition diminish free air space throughout the growing season, so a mix may test 27% to start, but by season’s end it may decline to 12-15%. If your mix tests below 22-24% from the get-go, consider using a more coarse mix, even if you just cautiously set up a significant side-by-side contrast trial. You’ll be glad you did.

Untrained crews may press down a mix too tightly at potting time. Stacking on a pallet after filling flats – it’s a poor handling practice if your potting mix gets compressed. Summer heat tends to subside after mid-late August. But unless trained otherwise, irrigation staff may complacently rely on irrigation timers instead of lifting pots and flats – using experienced judgment before cranking on the water.

How often do supervisors get riled up if a crew person lets a block of plants dry out too much, but if that same person over-irrigates, hardly anyone notices? In so doing, do supervisors effectively train irrigation crews to drown plants?

Watering crews have your checkbook in their hands. Over-watering containers - not

allowing them to dry down during the irrigation cycle - means a mix has less time with the minimum air needed to support vigorous, healthy roots. Phytopthora and other root infections may develop, getting progressively worse before they’re apparent.

These practices all foster inadequate soil mix porosity - conditions ripe for root disease and failure - literally at the finish line. What changes might you make in your operation if this provokes your concern? How may we help you with more information?

An excellent mix in our propagation experience is 75% coarse bark, no more than 10% coarse peat, and 15% perlite or pumice. You may wish to evaluate 90% coarse bark + 10% coarse peat. Baled bedding plant mixes, used for vegetable starts and plugs, are too expensive to use in large pots. But with thoughtful irrigation practice, as long as you incorporate slow-release fertilizer and include calcium, magnesium and micro-nutrients, even a pure bark container medium can grow healthy woody plants you’d be proud to offer.

At Heritage, we regularly evaluate our growing media for porosity, EC (soluble fertilizer level) and moisture. Simple methods - using a salt meter, lifting plug trays or pots to judge their moisture level – are easy but critical staff training elements. We closely monitor root development so we send you nothing but the most healthy, white-rooted woody liners at the end of the season.

We offer these ideas to help you profit with our plants, so they will grow up like healthy kids and make us all proud. It’s just a tangible, specific example of how Heritage is distinctively different. We aren’t just your supplier; we’re your growing partner.