Nursery Notes: A look back at history of Beltane Nursery

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A page from a 1982 catalogue from Wayside Nursery

A page from a 1982 catalogue from Wayside Nursery

You really never know what will come walking through the door. Today’s treat? A 30-year-old Wayside Nursery catalogue from spring 1982! I love it. It matches the 1970 one I have tucked away … presently somewhere safe.

The catalogue features number one roses in a two-gallon pot for only $7.95 each. Fast-forward to 2012 and we sell them for $15.95 each. Fruit trees (bare root) were a mere $7.95, marked down from $8.50. The last few years they have been running $24.95 each on average. Blueberries were $4.50 a gallon shrub. Recently I have been selling the same size plants at $7.95 each or 2 for $15 as the berry crop will improve with some cross pollination.

As I peruse all of the offerings I realize that 30 years of inflation hasn’t really increased the cost of the nursery stock too much. In many cases, the price hasn’t quite doubled; however, in the case of cedar hedging, the price has, in fact, decreased, due in part to the collapse of the export market a few years ago.

If you are wondering what the Wayside catalogues have to do with the present day Beltane Nursery, I can shed some light. The present day nursery is operated on the site of what was Wayside Nursery from the late 1950s to 2000. Looking through my desk for the 1970s catalogue, I came across some land registry copied papers from 1919 detailing the farm as owned by Mr. and Mrs. Craigie. There are a few old photos of them and their swimming pool circa 1929. It was Creston’s first swimming pool so there is even a place marker in the back. Elsewhere are the original and working copies of the back five acres landscape, Wayside Gardens. It was started in the late 1960s, with planting continuing through 1982 or 1983, which brings me back to the catalogue.

Wherever you draw your gardening inspiration from, spring is almost upon us. I am really looking forward to it. I watched a really neat PBS special on Italian renaissance gardens and thought of a few interesting possibilities from other garden tours I have taken in the past few years. For now I will refer to the gardens as an arboretum (a spectacular collection of trees) and remind everyone that it will be open for viewing on this year’s garden tour presented by the Creston Valley Garden Club.

There is a lot to do still. Hope to see you all out at the farm when we reopen toward the end of March!

Evan Davies owns Beltane Nursery at 2915 Highway 3 in Erickson.