The Story of Joy Arboretum

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I have not said much about the arboretum we are making at the nursery in this blog. Maybe a couple times maybe not. Anyway, it is for real at this point. We are making an arboretum. Actually we have been making it for about ten years or so.

At first the planting of trees on our place was for production for profit. We planted the trees to close and naturally planted too many as well. As a result of the numbers and space problems we started to thin them out to try and save the best trees. These are the largest evergreen trees on the property. This collection consists of White Pine, Scots Pine, Ponderosa Pine, Norway Spruce, Frasier and Balsam Fir.

After awhile we started to plant a double row of mostly White Pine around the perimeter of the nursery. A large part of the reasoning was to wall ourselves off from the rest of the world. This is a common gardening theme amazingly enough. We are no different than anyone else out there. We want our own personal sanctuary as much as anyone else. My dad and Blue River Nursery’s founder Stephen Locker started the perimeter trees after being persuaded or nagged to do so by me.

It is kind of funny on the East side of the property we use to have the Eiler quarter horse Farm. I never met the Eilers. We were here ten years and never met them. People live out in the country for that reason sometimes. The best neighbors can often times be the ones you never meet. They were great neighbors by the way!

So 10 years or so ago the Eilers sold the farm. We were unaware of this until one day it sounded like the quarter horse farm was under siege and being attacked by something loud and mean. Before we knew it the old white 2 story farm house was gone. Then there was smoke for days. From what we understand the new owner bulldozed the old farm house into the pool and set it on fire to get rid of all the debris then filled the pool in. We really got focused on that perimeter planting at that point.

At this time it was me planting trees with the tree spade after work into the wee hours of the night. Sometime after that around the winter of 2003-04 a guy named Steve Miller helped me heel in and stake trees on the perimeter.

Just a side note the new owner planted his own perimeter tree planting. Apparently he wanted his own sanctuary as well! He is actually a great neighbor. We never see each other. The few times I have met him he is a very nice man. In his words, “we are not calling each other all the time for a cup of sugar”. Apparently he looks for the same thing in neighbors.

Once the perimeter was completed we started planting some Spruce inside of it. Most of these consisted of Blue Spruce and Serbian Spruce. Then we started planting trees that were storm damaged like locust or ball and burlap trees we did not want to overwinter in the nursery like Whitespire Birch.

The year was now 2006/07, the crew on this phase was Bob Draeger, John Lorenz and Dave Trapp. The weather was absolutely horrendous for field planting during the beginning of these guys tenure. It is not uncommon to hear them make humorous references to those days. I think they are glad those days are behind them for the time being anyway. I have never worked on the deck of a ship in the middle of a hurricane. However, at times it seemed as though what we were doing might be similar to that of all things.

We could not plant in 2008. We were totally booked on landscaping and just could not make the time to do it. This was a good thing, after the weather we encountered the past two years we needed a break.

The year is 2009. The nursery is way overstocked with #3 Serbian Spruce, Black Hills Spruce, Norway Spruce, Canaan Fir, Blue Spruce and Oriental Spruce. It is like people do not seem to plant species evergreens anymore. So much for my 3-4 years of growing these trees to sell to the homeowner who does not want a 300# tree. These were so easy to plant the guys were doing 50-60 a day. We planted the trees in large groupings, 10-20 trees of one species. Our hope is that some day they will help folks see what these trees really look like. Sometimes I think a single specimen gets lost in an arboretum setting.

After these trees ran out we started two new wings of the new fancy arboretum. These so far include grafted cultivars such as Picea pungens ‘Mission Blue’, Two varieties of Dragon Eye Pine, Japanese White Pine ‘Glauca,Baby Blue Eyes Blue Spruce, and many others.

This brings us to today. We plan on breaking a lot more grafted conifers out to plant in the arboretum. These are plants that for whatever reason have not sold. It is almost as if they were destined to be here from the beginning.

I have always had this feeling that I was suppose to do something during my lifetime that would outlive me and contribute some sort of value to the world or mankind. Today while I was in the field I had a feeling I may have found my calling. It was the first time I have ever had that feeling.

I am toying with the name Joy Arboretum. It seems to bring joy to me planting trees out in that field. Hopefully once they have a chance to grow they will bring joy to other folks too. Not everyone is a admire of potential. It is out there though. John, Bob and I see it. Maybe we will call it the Potential Arboretum. Does anyone out there have any suggestions for a name???

We couldn't be happier with the landscaping they designed and installed!

» Kevin from Warsaw