Nursery Notes: Greenhouse is buzzing despite slow spring

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It sounds like this spring is slow all over the country. According to the national newscast on CBC, it is the coldest spring across Canada in 74 years. I’ll buy that. Here in the Creston Valley, we are used to being ahead of Cranbrook and Calgary but behind the Okanagan and the Coast, usually two weeks behind areas like Osoyoos and perhaps even a month behind Vancouver.

What does this mean for the nursery stock? Generally plants travel from west to east. They grow faster and therefore cheaper on the Coast due in part to their longer growing season. The milder climate also reduces winter losses from extreme temperatures. Greenhouses cost less to heat. While we are growing and retailing items like hanging baskets here and wholesaling them elsewhere it just isn’t possible to produce everything ourselves. When I bring in magnolias from the Coast you will find them flowering long before the ones around town owing to the fact they have come from the Fraser Valley. Cedar trees from the Coast will always look greener this time of year as the ones in our field are just coming out of dormancy and still have their winter colour to them.

I think that our field has finally drained sufficiently enough to get digging underway. Year to year predictions of most in demand items are hard enough. Fruit trees are all ordered two years in advance. Theoretically, this is enough time to grow the rootstock, bud (graft) it and then train a nice young tree. Of course, the best time to bud rootstock is the first week of August and that is when the cherry harvest is in full swing.

With the improvement in weather the nursery is picking up. I have a lot of great looking yellow flowering forsythias in stock. The coastal magnolias are in bloom, as well. There are white star-shaped flowers, pink star-shaped ones and a deeper magenta with fuller petals in flower now. The mauve-coloured arctic phlox is looking great and makes an excellent sun tolerant ground cover. Sheltered in the unheated greenhouse are some spectacular new bleeding hearts in flower, along with many others interesting varieties, and well over a hundred kinds of herbaceous perennials (plants that live from year to year but die to the ground over winter).

Some of the annuals are flowering now, too. The frost-hardy pansies, of course, cool weather loving snapdragons and even some of the geraniums and other annuals destined for people’s hanging baskets. With that said, Mother’s Day is just around the corner.

We are setting up the displays this week, and hoping for some warmer weather.

Evan and Wendy Davies own Beltane Nursery at 2915 Highway 3 in Erickson.

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