Up-date on Freeze.

May 11, 2016

I thought I should write a follow-up on the freeze we had last month. Many of my predictions came to be correct, but not all. The mulberry, fringe trees, black locust and gingko all lost all or essentially all of their new growth. All have re-flushed and will do well enough this year. Most of the Japanese maples that were damaged also have reflushed. A beautiful Acer palmatum Rhode Island Red has come back weakly, but should survive. Magnolias (deciduous ) did poorly and have just formed tiny buds that should eventually fill out the trees. One tree that may succumb is a 15 ft tall Picea smithiana that was in a stage of new growth that lost of the buds in the freeze. For the entire tree, I have only found two small shoots that are active. What happens to a tree that cannot grow? I am assuming it will die.

Blueberries did a bit better than I had anticipated. The early and midseason varieties fared pretty well with my estimate of a 20% loss of berries. The late variety, Tif-blue lost the most as these bushes were in flower stage. Approximately eighty percent of these berries are lost.

Spring is now mid-late spring and the evidence of the freeze is lessening and will shortly be just a memory that becomes just part of what it means to be a nurseryman.


Spring Freezes!

April 11, 2016

DSCN2174_01.JPGApril 15 th is the date I use to indicate the last possible Spring freeze for  the nursery and my garden. So the two freezes we had   on 4/5 and 4/9 were well within that parameter. Temps at or below 28 and essentially no wind, is the usual condition for devastation, depending on species, cultivar, and placement in the nursery/garden. Covering plants with thermal blankets, or even bed sheets,or bringing them into unheated shelters works well, but with so many plants it is not possible for me to protect all. A sort of triage occurs with the most valuable getting the limited protection available. The blueberry field also is a concern, as the earlier warm weather in late December and then in February had the bushes well-advanced – perhaps two  weeks ahead of schedule.

This set of freezes turned out to be about the top two worst freezes in the almost 20 years I have been doing nursery work. It is still too early to assess the extent of the damage but early observations suggest that some trees will have to completely re-foliate, as all the new growth was cut back. Mulberry ( Morus alba), Fringe tree ( Chionanthus virginicus and retusus), Magnolia, Black locust ( Robinia) and some of the most exposed Japanese maples (Acer palmatum and japonicum ) were among this group. Gingko had slightly less damage. Conifers such as Spruce  ( Picea) and some of the Pines (Pinus) were just breaking bud, and so many had not opened enough to have exposed soft tissue. Among the pines, the Japanese White ( P. parviflora) and Japanese Red (P. densiflora) had long candles that were bent over in the morning but seemed to recover to normal position by the next day.

The deciduous trees have secondary buds that in several weeks time,will begin to swell and eventually, develop into shoots. This growth  never seems as vigorous as the initial spring flush, and in Japanese maples, the lovely branch pattern that develops from the normal bud break is altered, and sometimes the growth appears stubby. This can be corrected to some extent by careful pruning.

Obviously these trees are stressed which can make them more susceptible to ambrosia beetle. Keeping the defoliated trees on the dry side can help as the beetle is attracted to water-logged situations. Ambrosia beetle was not much of a problem this year, and the first brood is finished.

The blueberry bushes were filled with tiny berries. Most of the flowering were finished, especially on Premier and Climax the two early varieties. We had irrigated ( drip) the day before the freeze to moisten the soil in the hope that the soil would warm up more during the day and thus release even more heat back up in the night during the freeze. It is too early to know what damage the berries might have sustained.

How do I cope with the freezes other than doing what I can? I tell myself something a friend once told me ” Nature gives and she takes away”. This is one of the ‘takes away’. You accept it and realize that by choosing nursery work, you are accepting that contract. Now that the extended forecast does not show any more freezes, plants can be moved from the greenhouse ( where it has been getting too hot lately), and tender plants can be potted up and put into their position to grow on this year. Last year pine grafts in one gallon are ready to be shifted into two gallons, so the roots have room to grow and help those candles grow the most. So, I guess what I am saying that there is so much to do. The focus becomes what needs to happen as now that the freezes are over, we will always be behind until  late fall.








It is that time of year again, the smell of fresh hardwood mulch, Balled and burlapped trees unloaded from the trucks that make the long journey from Oregon, selecting the plants that we have grown here, that are now ready for sale, and seeing familiar faces ( and some new ones!) and long-time friends who come to visit the nursery and perhaps add another element to their garden.

We are among  the Durham County farmers who are going to be selling at the new Durham Roots Farmers’ Market at Northgate starting April 16th. Unlike the other area Farmers’ Markets, this market will offer only the three ‘P’s : Protein, Produce and Plants. All  have to be grown Durham county ( or Durham City). We are growing herbs and some bedding plants as well as our other usual plants- grafted conifers, japanese maples etc., to sell at this market. You may remember Chuck, who used to work here years ago – he will be selling at the new Market most Saturdays.

Our inventory list is getting updated so please check it soon to see what we will have for sale.


Winter Classes 2016

November 19, 2015

Pruning Class : Once again  we  will  be offering a hands-on pruning class led by John Monroe, owner of Architectural Trees. The  class is being offered 1/9/2016. The class is from 1pm until 3:30, held rain/ snow or shine, and is outside. How to look at and determine the singular beauty of a tree and how to bring it out by making pruning decisions is a focus of this class. Students need to come to class with by-pass pruners. Japanese Maples, and conifers will be some of the trees that we will learn about.

Fee: $45 paid in  advance. Six students per class ( we will fill up the afternoon class before opening the morning class ).

Intensive Workshop  for Intermediate or Advanced Gardeners , “Exploring Creativity, Gardening and the  Self” This all day  workshop held inside,  is facilitated by John Monroe.  Using structured exercises, and group process,  the participants will have an opportunity to learn more about what gardening brings to their lives, how they tap into their creativity  and perhaps, recognize some new connections within themselves that were ready to be made.  Not a therapy group, however, an openness to one’s history and how gardening fits into it will be welcomed and respected. Saturday January 16, 9 -4 pm. Light breakfast  and healthy snacks are  included, bring a bag lunch. Five participants only. Fee is $150 for the day, paid in advance.




John Monroe will give a presentation on Saturday November 14 at 1pm on Garden Design with Fall color. The presentation will be in the  nursery’s Education Center. There is no fee.

Acer palmatum 'Viridis' 30 years old

Acer palmatum ‘Viridis’ 30 years old

There will be  three presentations on Conifers during October at Architectural Trees:

Saturday October 10 1pm – Pines for the Landscape

Saturday  October 17 1pm – Hinoki cypress – size, shape and colors!

Saturday October 24 1 pm – Spruces

Each presentation will be held in the Education Center  at Architectural Trees and last for about 30 – 40 minutes.  Free of charge. DSCN1218

We are excited about  the trees we have grown this summer. Each year we grow different trees to keep our regular customers coming back. This year we have Sassafras, American Smoke tree, Carolina Silverbell, Shirotae cherry, Fruit trees ( semi-dwarf apples, plums, figs, fruiting weeping mulberry, small paw paw ). New this year are smaller size plants from 2 gal size. Also,  we have a huge inventory of Japanese maples.

We have  opened our back field and have priced many of our trees at a wholesale level. A trusted landscaper will dig out your trees for a fee in the winter. Bring your walking shoes, a tarp if you plan on carting your plants home with you in an open truck and pictures of areas you want to landscape if you want us to provide some suggestions.

Our Blueberry  field is now open for U-pick. Hours are Tuesday through Friday 8 am til noon, Saturdays 8 am til 2pm.

Our bushes have never been sprayed with insecticide. We provide picking buckets, and have a food safety program in place.

our season usually extends from late June unitl the first week in August.

We have had a better than usual year in our efforts  to graft Japanese Maple. I calculate we were successful in over 70 %. One of the techniques  we discovered was to put down some pine bark in the bottom of the holding trays and wet them down. The maples are kept dry until the leaves break bud, the the moisture down below the pots help wake up the roots and they b begin to grow, and the result is a strong push. Every nurseryman has their own set-up, but this has worked well for us. These trees will be shifted up into 1 gallon pots at some point later in  the spring. DSCN1778_01 DSCN1779_01

After a long DSCN1395Winter, just about everyone is ready for Spring! If you have never been out to visit our nursery, we think you will find it very different from even the better Independent Garden Centers in the Triangle. We only sell plants – no peat moss, fertilizer or ceramic pots. By focussing only on plants we can explore the plant world more deeply. Even so, we cannot grow everything but what you will find is an excellent selection of particularly well-grown Japanese Maples, conifers and unusual deciduous trees and shrubs. We grow the majority of our trees on-site, and the trees we bring in from elsewhere are hand selected. the previous July. Need help with plant selections? We will offer help in considering the various possibilities. We hope to see you this spring.


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