A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune to visit Spring Meadow Nursery in Grand Haven, Michigan. Spring Meadow is the home of “woody” shrubs, both deciduous and evergreen, of the Proven Winners ColorChoice brands. Ryan McGrath, their Marketing & PR Specialist, took my husband, daughter, granddaughter, and me on a private tour of this enormous state-of-the-art facility.
We were treated to long strolls through multiple greenhouses and down walkways edged with familiar and full-grown Proven Winners ColorChoice shrubs. One of my all-time favorites was there, trimmed into a small tree. It was decked out in its black deeply cut foliage showing why it is nicknamed the poor man’s Japanese maple (Black Lace Sambucus).
When I was there in October, this was the colorful site in one of the greenhouses. These are all cuttings being rooted to supply Spring Meadow’s 3,600 wholesale growers in the United States and Canada. But this is only one of the greenhouses.
According to Ryan, “Our propagation facilities include over 20 acres of greenhouses. We have 30 acres dedicated to stock plants*, 8 acres of Cravo® retractable roof greenhouses, and 3 acres of Westbrook open roof greenhouses, two of which are flood floor irrigated. High pressure fog systems, traveling booms, bottom heat floors, and computerized controls create an optimum propagation environment.”
The greenhouses are never out of work. In the spring and summer, March to September, softwood cuttings are stuck. October to February the hardwood cuttings are under glass. Ryan says, “At peak production, we can stick and process up to 90,000 cuttings per day direct stuck in a 32-cell tray at an average rate of 30 flats per man-hour.” Whew! Even though roots develop year-round, Ryan explains, "We ship only actively growing plants from mid-April to October. These started plants all go to growers who raise them up into salable shrubbery.
In the near future, more plants will be in production. Another state-of-the-art greenhouse is going up and will add another 1.3 acres of propagation range to the already huge facility. As you can see by the photo, this is not your ordinary little backyard glasshouse. Contrary to what my husband might think, even I could not fill up one of these monster houses.
Once the shrubs are rooted, they then go through a mostly automated system that trims, cuts them loose, separates the dead from the good, and divides them into three grades. This grading machine is a TTA PlugSorter ECO although Ryan reminds us, “Keep in mind ours is custom engineered just for us.” This was a whole lot of fun to watch in person. There is a video of it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSAXgt2odSs&feature=player_embedded
Spring Meadow Nursery not only propagates, their plant hunters also search out new plants through travels to other countries and by encouraging plant developers at home. If you see a shrub in a white pot with a big PW on the side, you know there are years of research and development behind it. For myself, I just like what they offer in new and unusual plants that usually thrive in my garden. That’s all any gardener wants.
*These shrubs supply all those cuttings for the greenhouses-Anne
While out this season planting bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and other spring-bloomers, put some aside and pot up a container or two. Gardeners who regularly pot up amaryllis or paperwhites for the holidays often don’t think to grow spring bulbs in pots that will bloom outdoors long after the indoor flowers are just a memory. It’s as quick and easy as potting up annuals.
Join fellow garden lovers, history buffs and music enthusiasts to discover the quaint towns and colorful gardens of Holland and Belgium in May of 2018.
This exciting journey will be hosted by nationally known host Eric Johnson, of Public Television's blockbuster show GardenSmart. Your river cruise begins in Amsterdam where you'll see works by Rembrandt and Van Gogh, Anne Frank's House, and see the city's most famous gardens. Then spend a full morning on the grounds of the most beautiful spring garden in the world-Keukenhof! Visit the picturesque Belgian towns of Bruges and Ghent as well as Kinderdijk, with the Netherlands' iconic collection of 19 authentic windmills that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition, history buffs will experience a captivating tour of the WWI trenches of Flanders and WWII Arnhem Battlefield of A Bridge Too Far fame. You won't want to miss this extraordinary garden adventure to Holland and Belgium.
Book by November 15, 2017 and save up to $1200 dollars per person!
To register call:
Alki Tours at 800-895-2554
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