Friday, December 13, 2013

Aesculus pavia, The Red Buckeye

As I wait for the snow season to start here in Minnesota, I imagine my yard in spring. I think about what new plants I can use to entice the hummingbirds to visit.

Aesculus pavia
One plant that is new to Loma Vista Nursery that would be perfect for my vision is the Aesculus pavia, the Red Buckeye. Its bright red panicles of flowers bloom in late spring. It grows 12-15' tall and wide and is hardy to zone 4. It does well in full sun to part shade and prefers a moist but well drained soil. This tree is perfect for the back edge of a hummingbird garden. I can see it in my yard with shady perennials such as Hosta, Lobelia, Coral Bells, Columbine, Monarda and Foxglove planted underneath. A burst of color that will surely give these wonderful birds a summer feast!
Aesculus pavia is one of many container trees now on sale at Loma Vista if booked and shipped before December 24th.
Kate Williams, Sales Representative, Loma Vista Nursery

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Day With Doug Grimm

"Life is a shade better under a tree."

My first observation is that Doug is a very interesting man who knows a little something about everything and everything has a story behind it. 

During our discussion of edibles, we stumbled onto the subject of goji berries and surprisingly Doug knows a lot about goji berries.  He explained that the leaves have more antioxidants than the fruit, listed a handful of varieties he has been successful with, and then proceeded to show us a book full of goji berry recipes.

As you tour his arboretum and his "u-pick" orchards, Doug has countless varieties of trees, shrubs, and fruits and is knowledgeable about each and every one of them.  And just about every one of them comes with a story. 

The best story is that of the Oregon Trail maple, a Doug Grimm discovery. The parent tree is one that Doug remembers visiting as a young child.  Every Halloween, his family would go into Hiawatha to look at the coloring maples.  One particular sugar maple colored like no other sugar maple Doug has seen.  When this tree was still standing unharmed after a terrible ice storm in 2007 devastated all others, Doug knew this tree was different.  He diligently pursued the introduction of this tree and he remembers clearly where he was when he received the phone call from J. Frank Schmidt & Son.  He was in Falls City, NE digging a hole to plant a tree, as he had done countless times before.  But this hole was unlike any other.  As he is digging, the dirt started to fall back in the hole instead of coming out.  Well, being the son of a ditch digger, Doug knew that when dirt moved this way this meant he had hit a cavity.  You will never guess what he had dug into - a section of the Underground Railroad!  As they were waiting for word from the city on how to proceed, Doug received the news about his Oregon Trail Maple.

I was also struck by Doug's ingenuity and his willingness to adapt. Doug's nursery, Grimm's Gardens, is located in Hiawatha, KS.  A city with a population of about 3,000 and that is the largest city in the county. Traffic through the nursery was down and Doug knew he had to adapt. Adapt they did. A couple years ago, Grimm's Gardens ventured into the world of online sales.  They now have a successful web store and are selling on Ebay and Amazon.

As we were wrapping up the day, Doug had one more gem for us.  We drove (three of us on the golf cart) into the barn where he showed us his homemade fertilizer. Inside a big blue drum, atop a raised platform, a bag of worm castings was steeping into a worm casting tea. Yes, worm casting tea used successfully as a fertilizer. A perfect ending to a surprising and educational day at Grimm's Gardens.

Caitlin Hupp, Sales Representative, Loma Vista Nursery

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Winter Reading

Judy Sharpton, owner of Growing Places, recently gave a presentation on garden center marketing at the PW Roadshow. She recommended several books on understanding your customers better, how they shop and what factors influence their purchasing decisions.


Two of the books are by Paco Underhill, Why We Buy and What Women Want. The Paradox of Choice, Why Less is More is by Barry Schwartz.

Please let us know if these books spark some conversation at the garden center about topics including layout, signage, displays, product choice, and service. And, what changes you plant to make to increase sales.

How to Grow Your Business

Constant Contact recently had a program in Kansas City to help businesses connect with one another and with area agencies.

Are you familiar with SCORE? This was one of the agencies in attendance. Their free and low cost workshops and mentoring programs are designed to help small businesses and start ups grow and succeed.

Of course, the program also had many marketing tips and suggested web tools. It can be a bit overwhelming putting together a marketing program and juggling all the social media options. We were reminded that brand awareness and meeting customer needs should be at the center of our efforts. It was suggested to plan ahead for success and manage your time. Set an appointment with yourself (and put it on the calendar) to market your business. Begin with a schedule of six hours a month. Set goals, state specific objectives, write it down and Dream Big!

Winter Activities at the Nursery

t's quite a mix of seasons at the nursery. Fall harvest is underway in our fields and shipping continues from our container farm. Spring crops are ready when the demand hits. While all that is going on, preparations for winter are also in high gear at Loma Vista Nursery's container farm. You might think when we are finished, we shut down until spring. While activity at the nursery slows in the winter months, it never stops.

Last winter at the container farm

Winter Protection continues with:

Maintenance of heaters and houses

Clearing away snow

Venting the houses on sunny days to prevent the houses for getting too hot and the plant from waking up too soon

Watering is still necessary though not as often. Heated houses will dry more so than unheated ones and being covered they don't benefit from any natural precipitation.

Early spring plants are ready for sale now but the ones scheduled for later in spring will be pruned and groomed to take full advantage of the spring flush of growth.

Repairs and upgrades to equipment and facilities are also made to prepare for the next growing and shipping season.

These are just a few of the activities that make providing our customers with quality product a full time, year round job at Loma Vista Nursery.

Learning Centers, The Western is Back in KC!

The Western is back in Kansas City! It's Sunday, January 5th and Monday, January 6th at the Overland Park Convention Center with a trade show and learning centers. You will find Loma Vista's learning center booth along the main aisle of the trade show floor. Join us in our booth for these sessions:

Improve Your Bottom Line with Pot in Pot Trees

Sunday, Jan. 5;10:30 AM & Monday, Jan. 6; 9:30 AM

Pot in pot trees offer many advantages to both garden centers and landscapers. Ben Cecil will lead off the program with a discussion on the nursery production of pot in pot trees and Caitlin Hupp will show how to incorporate them into your tree planting programs and inventory mix and realize savings.

How to Get the Job and Make Money! Successfully Bidding Hardscape Projects

Sunday, Jan. 5; 1:30 PM & Monday, Jan. 6; 11:30 AM

Give your company the competitive advantage by eliminating errors during the estimating process. This interactive session for landscape business owners and estimators will provide tips on bidding. Join Wes Armstrong and Belgard's Craig Folkers for the discussion and see if you can catch a door prize!

Beyond Tweets. Connecting and Communicating With Your Customers

Sunday, Jan. 5; 3:30 PM & Monday, Jan. 6; 2:30 PM

Today's world gives us many options for sharing our message with our customers. But, is the message getting through or is it just noise? Join Susan Mertz for a discussion on the many tools available for connecting with your customers and increasing sales.

Delicious Daylilies

My mother is responsible for my influence into the world of gardening with my inheritance of a small collection of gardening books from my grandmother who had a greenhouse in Osborne County in the early 70's. One of these prized treasures is The Forgotten Art of Flower Cookery by Leona Woodring Smith. Leona's book on using flowers in cooking contains over 200 tested recipes of special and unusual tastes raising new adventuresome pursuits in the kitchen.

Fairy Tale Pink

Surprising to me, I discovered a chapter on daylilies, which documents how the Chinese have enjoyed dried daylilies or golden needles for centuries. In China they are a cultivated cash crop, as here they grow abundantly in roadside ditches and are planted for their beauty. The book contains nine tested recipes using either the flower or bud. Guess what I'll be purchasing for my container garden next spring!

The flavor is described as similar to chestnut or beans with a touch of honey added. They are beneficial containing vitamins, minerals and are high in protein, almost as much as spinach.

Tip: The daylily is at its peak of sweetness the day after it blooms, but with an acrid taste the following day.

Happy Returns

Forget about the traditional vegetable garden and add daylilies for a splash of color. The tastiest varieties include yellow, orange and pastel blooms. Loma Vista will have these varieties to choose from for spring planting Chicago Princess, Fairy Tale Pink, Happy Returns, Hyperion, Joan Senior, Little Grapette, Mini Pearl, Mini Stella, Pandora's Box, Stella de Oro, and Strawberry Candy (pictured below).

Unless bitter pleases your palette, avoid cooking with the red varieties, i.e. Pardon Me and Stella in Red. Leave the flowers in the garden to enjoy.

The American Hemerocallis Society provides more information on daylilies at this link Click on Tasty Daylilies if edible flowers peak your interest and enjoy creating a delightful culinary experience with the recipe for buttered daylilies.
Sheila Balaun, Inventory and Customer Service, Loma Vista Nursery

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fall Tree Harvest is Here

We all have been anticipating the fall tree harvest. With the increase in demand, trees in different varieties, sizes and quantities have been a little tougher to find compared to years past. Now that demand for trees is up a bit, Loma Vista has expanded their container growing operation to accommodate these needs. 

One of the many positives of container grown trees is that it should allow for more availability year round. Planning and planting around spring harvest and fall harvest are things of the past with container trees.

What a change from only a few years ago, when there were huge surpluses of trees. Tree growers and liner growers were bulldozing, burning and giving them away at tree auctions across the country to move them out of their inventories. Hopefully, the uptick in demand is a sign of good things to come economically. And, hopefully, tree growers will not ever again think about bulldozing and burning piles of trees ever again.

Please call (913-897-7010) or email me if you would like a tour of our tree fields and container farm. 
Steve Bridges, Sales Representative, Loma Vista Nursery 

Good Night Sweet Prince

It's been a beautiful fall and winter is not yet upon us. But, it's on its way and that means it's time to be putting plants to bed.

Just about everything above ground is given some form of protection. For the majority of the plants that entails being placed in a structure and the structure covered with plastic. The nursery has nearly 200 permanent houses. But, that is only sufficient for a portion of the crops. We erect temporary houses, of varying sizes, for much of the balance. How many, I have no idea. Perhaps on a slow day in the middle of winter I'll take a count.

Deciduous material can often be laid over and covered with row crop cloth and plastic. Evergreens, such as junipers, are put together can to can in big blocks. Once the plants are fully dormant (this of course depends on the weather), they will be fine until spring arrives with little or no watering. The biggest dangers are very low temperatures that stay below freezing day and night, which can kill roots.

All this plant movement highlights the benefit of pot-in-pot production, as the roots are below ground, and thus are not as likely to be damaged. 

The next challenge will be in spring when the warm temperatures under the plastic can start waking things up too early. But, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Until then, the next few weeks will keep us busy enough.

"And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!"  (Hamlet by William Shakespeare)

Roadshow Recap

Proven Winners was in town with their roadshow promoting plants for 2014. We were very excited to see that we many of the flowering shrubs we have in production were promoted at the event:
Livin' La Vida Rose
Big Lifeberry Goji Berry (Lycium)
Let's Dance Hydrangeas
Livin' La Vivda Rose
Bloomerang Dark Purple Lilac
Oso Easy Lemon Zest Rose
Judy Sharpton, always a lively speaker, shared her marketing tips for garden centers starting off with a definition of:
Brand - infuse a commodity with promise and personality
Here's a few of her suggestions for building consumer brand confidence and increasing sales:
Creating a Store Within a Store
Signage Helps Buying Decisions
National Brands Support Store's Brand and Personality
Color Sells
Asking Customers "Do They Need?"
Merchandising for Easy Access to Products
Stocking Signature Items

Susan Mertz, Director of Marketing, Loma Vista Nursery

What's happening with the conifers?

Photo courtesy of University of Nebraska
Lincoln Extension
Fall color is in full swing and the nip in the air has my bird dog eager to get in the truck and travel.
Evergreens are in the fall needle drop and the phones are ringing with customers asking what's wrong, why is the spruce dying? Some customers will panic but it is a natural part of the plant's cycle. Yellowing of third year needles on the inside of the plant is the usual sign that the plant is shedding old growth. To learn more about evergreens and needle drop, go to University of Nebraska - Lincoln Extension Natural Needle Drop.
With cooler temperatures and shorter days, the plants are beginning to slow down and shut down for winter. Digging season will be underway after this good soaking rain and the nursery will fill up again with fresh dug trees.
Have a great planting season and good luck with the sprint to the finish of the year.
By Don Mann, Kansas Certified Arborist and Certified Chemical Applicator, Loma Vista Nursery 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Interesting Fall Fruits and Colors

Can you guess what they are?

I was out taking a walk the other day and I noticed these unusual fruits, larger and more prolific than I have ever seen. Can you tell what they are? This plant is very common, it says so in its botanical name.


How about this NEW shrub for a nice display of fall color? A tough shrub, that we commonly use, now has a new brilliant selection.

This is one of the most unusual fall colors and is one of my fall favorite surprises.

Or, how about this early flowering shrub or small tree - do you know what it is? These are actually the sepals that turn red in the fall just after flowering. Way cool! I just could not leave this one out, we have just a few left at the LDC!

Let's see who can get all these correct. Email your answers to 
Michelle Cadena, Sales Representative, Loma Vista Nursery 

Winter Wonderland of Plants

Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.
As fall offers us crisp, sunny days to enjoy, we all know it is coming. Winter will set in, making our landscapes further down the list behind bundling up, chopping wood, and building a scale model of the Eiffel Tower out of toothpicks.

photo courtesy of Daily Mail

However, this does not have to be the case. With some forethought and good planning, you can truly create a garden your customer will cruise through even in the frigid days of January.

We can help you in achieving a complete year-round garden for your customers. Below are some examples of plants that show off in the dreary days of winter:

Deciduous hollies - Ilex 'Red Sprite' and Berry Heavy are compact selections with extraordinary fruit set which will last well into December, if not January in certain years. 

Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.
Witchhazel - Hamamelis sp. 'Jelena', 'Arnolds Promise', 'Diane' are large shrubs with fragrant strap-like flowers anytime from December to February depending on how warm it is (or, isn't).
Heritage River Birch - Betula nigra Heritage is a landscape staple with exfoliating bark and creamy white undersides that brightens dark days.
Oakleaf Hydrangea - Hydrangea quercifolia 'Pee Wee', 'Ruby Slippers' have it all! Great clean foliage in the spring, strong flower display in late spring/early summer, reliable red fall color and beautiful peeling bark for winter interest.

Ninebark - Physocarpus Little Devil, Summer Wine, Diablo, Amber Jubilee are much like oakleaf hydrangeas with winter interest. Ninebark has much to offer during the growing season, but it can really be an ocular treat when defoliated. Its tight branching and flaking bark does an excellent job of catching the morning frost. 

Whatever the season, if you are stumped on what to plant or use in a design, just give us a call. We'd love to tell you about our favorite plants.
Ben Cecil, Operations Manager, Loma Vista Nursery 

Begin with a smile

Yesterday's emal from the Western included a link to an article by Sid Raisch,
His article supports much of what Judy Sharpton presented in the PW program on creating a positive, consistent, customer experience.
Consistency Rocks a Customer's World
While you may find that your number of transactions per customer has declined, Raisch believes "providing consistency of a few, very simple positive experiences" will help turn things around.
Begin with a smile.
Susan Mertz, Marketing Director, Loma Vista Nursery

Monday, September 9, 2013

Bold, Beautiful and Blue

My favorite summer plant of 2013 is Hibiscus Blue Satin from the well known Proven Winners brand. This is not your average Hibiscus in bloom.

Blue Satin Hibiscus flower

It provides both color and charm in the landscape. What I find so appealing is the prolific set of buds on the stems and knowing as each one opens it will dazzle me with its visually magnificent blue-purple flowers. Not any shrub that I have seen in the marketplace comes close to this stimulating color.

Blue Satin Hibiscus

Pair it with white to create a vintage style garden. To achieve this, consider Proven Winners Hibiscus White Chiffon, Pow Wow White Coneflower, White Meidiland Rose, and Miscanthus 'Morning Light' for additional texture in the landscape.

Prune it in late winter or early spring, space it on 2-1/2' to 3' centers for hedging. It makes a great small tree; its mature height is 12'. Plant it in a mixed container on the patio for a tropical feel for summer then move it to the landscape in the fall. It requires moderate moisture and benefits from a slow release fertilizer early spring and then apply a mid-summer liquid fertilizer prior to the plant setting bloom. They are available now in bloom in a 3PW size. Call today to place your order!

To Prune or Not to Prune?

It's a long held belief that watering correctly is the hardest held part to teach of how to produce healthy plants. 

I don't disagree, but would argue that correct pruning comes a close second. The aim is to end up with a well shaped, structured plant with flower, fruit or buds ready to open. At the same time, the head size needs to be matched to the pot size. The top heavy ones are the first not to get watered and it's downhill from there. 

Pruning in the springThe pruning process starts in Propagation and can be as simple as pinching out a flower bud. That will allow new shoots to break, giving a multi-branched liner when it's ready to be moved to the next size of container. The majority of liners go to a one gallon pot where they will receive at least two, but as many as four, more trims before moving to their final container. 

Up to this stage, plants are trimmed as a group using hedge shears or a lawn mower deck mounted on a wheeled gantry that can be adjusted for cutting height. Once in its final container, a plant is treated as an individual and most of the pruning is done with shears. The skill level of the user can make or break the finished product. Too hard and the plant may be set back too far, too high and you'll be back in a few weeks to find a loose floppy plant without enough body.

That doesn't sound too difficult, does it? Now for the fun part of how to keep the plant that looked good in April still looking good in September.

This is where the practice of cycle pruning comes in. The idea of the game is to prune part of the crop and to hold it back for a period so it finishes later. But, not so late that the growth isn't mature before winter.

The difficult part is that there are no rules, no formula that tells me how many weeks it takes for that plant to recover. And, of course, every growing season is different. If you're up for a challenge, come join us at the farm. We'll put a pair of shears in your hands.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tree Excitement!

Here along the Front Range in Colorado we are seeing major construction underway. Thank goodness!!! Whole communities are starting to be built. And, within those communities there will soon be a need for a whole lot of trees. We have them at Loma Vista Nursery and they are FABULOUS!

What is the added value you get when buying our trees from the Midwest? They are grown in the same type of climate, have similar soil types and lower freight costs. 

Here are a couple of newer varieties that are being recognized for their wide range of soil type tolerance. They are great for the Front Range and Midwest landscapes. 

Quercus madcanielli Clemons (Heritage Oak)

Heritage Oak (Quercus x macdanielli 'Clemons') is a cross of Q. macrocarpa and Q. robur and has a fairly fast growth habit that is not usually associated with the Oak family.  It is very adaptable to a wide range of soil types including dry and wet soils.  With proper care and conditions, this tree could live to be over 300 years old!  Hardy to zone 4, matures 50-60' x 35-45'. 



Pacific Sunset Maple
Pacific Sunset Maple (Acer truncatum x A platanoides 'Warrenred' PP 7433) is a beautiful tree that starts turning color earlier in the fall and has very good form. This tree tends to have better alkaline tolerance than other maples and gives a spectacular fall show with hints of red, orange and yellow fall foliage. Hardy to zone 4, 30-40' x 20-30'. 

Susan and Alfredo recently toured our fields and took photos of many of the trees available for fall and spring harvest. For a complete look at the images of our tree fields, please go to our Dropbox Tree Fields folder.

Happy fall!
Michelle Cadena, Sales Representative, Loma Vista Nurserylanting.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Images of our Tree Fields

CARPINUS betulus Fastigiata field shot

ACER rubrum Red Sunset 2in
What were we thinking? Alfredo and I picked a day when it was about 100 degrees to walk the tree fields and take photos in July. We started off strong in the early hours of the morning and slowly faded...

We did journey across 100's of acres and took quite a few photos. Our field crops of trees and shrubs are looking very nice! They appreciate the great weather we have had of sunny days and regular rainfall.

GLEDITSIA tricanthos Shademaster 3in
ACER ginnala Flame 7ft

Above  are a few of the images of our trees. For a complete look, please go to our Dropbox Tree Fields folder.
Susan Mertz, Director of Marketing, Loma Vista Nursery