Sunday, April 20, 2008

12 Miles From Longwood...A Large Native Plant Nursery

Because it was close to the Trillium symposium and because we needed to pick up an order of plants and because we Like Jim Plyler and his wife Bethany, we visited Natural Landscapes Nursery in West Grove, Pennsylvania. This is a wonderful nursery, old school. They grow almost everything in the ground and dig all the rootballs by hand. Some of the balls were more than 3' across! Jim amends the soil and root prunes! To look at most B&B stock you would not think anyone root-pruned anymore. He tells me that most summers they can dig many things all through the summer. Because Jim is too modest to say it, I will explain that that is because they do things the right way.

They grow exclusively woody native plants and many are grown from seed that they collect themselves from locations up and down the East Coast. This picture is a bed of Azaleas that came from seed collected on Gregory Bald in the Great Smokey Mountains. That makes this a pretty exciting group of plants! Though they have a fairly wide range of material taxonomically speaking, I detect a fondness for the Ericaceae.

Because he is such a zealous supporter of the use of native plants in landscaping, Jim goes, as a vendor, to a number of "garden sales" around the area. Get the plants out there! I first met him at the Lahr Symposium, at the National Arboretum. I was overjoyed to see that he was offering so many of the native azaleas for sale. They are such wonderful landscape plants but so difficult to find. I was overwhelmed to discover that at his nursery he had large plants suitable for major landscaping. That is a remarkable resource that too few people are aware of. And that includes professionals who ought to be using these plants. This is large, healthy, sourced, native material. Availability of good material is the limiting factor in design/installation of high-end landscapes. It is hard not to salivate when you look at this list!

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