Summer grows bumper crop of visitors

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Our beautiful sunny summer sprouted a bumper crop of visitors. They came from far and near - some from distant lands including Australia, Ukraine and China. Visits peaked during the Farwest Show, when more than 6,000 green industry professionals converged on Portland for several days of seminars, tours and trade show activities. We enjoyed showing each visitor our excellent crop of trees, our production processes, and our arboretum. Memories of some of the tours are shared here.

We look forward to welcoming many more visitors this fall. Autumn is a great time to see the rainbow of fall colors in our fields and our arboretum, and to appreciate the results of an excellent growing season. If you haven’t visited lately, please come! Nothing beats a visit to the nursery to see what sets us apart from the others. By calling ahead, we can give you a personalized tour of our fields, tailored to your tree needs.

Dr. Dirr and Friends

Tree trekkers, from left: Mark Griffith, Guy Meacham, Rick McAbee, David Evans, Stewart Winslow, John Malone, Mike Hayman, Tammy Bowman, Keith Warren, Vince Dooley, David Kuhn, Mike Dirr and J. Frank Schmidt III.

When Dr. Mike Dirr makes his annual visit to our nursery to evaluate promising new trees, a crowd tends to gather. Dr. Dirr spent the day walking our fields and performance trial areas, evaluating promising new trees with J. Frank Schmidt III, Guy Meacham (Director of New Plant Development) and Keith Warren, who recently retired from full-time work in that position.  Dr. Dirr’s traveling companions included his business partner, Mark Griffith, tree introducers Mike Hayman and John Malone, and Vince Dooley, legendary coach of the University of Georgia Bulldogs.

Joining us from the Spartanburg, SC, area, were customers Rick McAbee and David Kuhn of Roebuck Nursery, and David Evans and Stewart Winslow of Milliken & Company. Stewart is the longtime manager of the 600-acre Milliken corporate campus and arboretum, where our new tree introductions are sent annually for multi-year trial and evaluation by Dr. Dirr.

The day of tree evaluation ended with a guided walk through the arboretum, where visitors got a first look at some of our brand new introductions and enjoyed Oregon microbrews in the shade of our beautiful trees. Among these is Emerald City® Tulip Tree, which is featured in a Dirr/Warren video on our YouTube channel. This, symmetrical, elegant selection of a North American native tree was chosen to create a cool and colorful alleé in the Milliken & Company Arboretum.

Mike Dirr, Vince Dooley and Beacon® Oak

Our tree tour with the “Dirr Entourage” began with a handsome young Beacon® Oak (Quercus bicolor ‘Bonnie and Mike’) growing in our office landscape. It will one day grow to be as impressive as the more mature columnar cultivars that grow nearby; Crimson Spire™, Streetspire® and Skinny Genes® Oaks.

Mike Dirr, Mike Hayman and Red Rage® Tupelo

Red Rage® Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica ‘Haymanred’) is the first of four street-worthy cultivars of Nyssa sylvatica that grows alongside the others in our office landscape: Gum Drop®, Firestarter® and Afterburner®) All are notable for upright, open branch angles and dominant central leaders, characteristics that are highly desirable in urban street trees. Unlike the highly variable fall color of Tupelo grown from seed (with colors ranging from yellow to orange to deep red), these can be counted on to shine bright with vivid orange to red tones in autumn.

Mike Hayman, co-introducer with JFS, stood before his namesake tree and described how it was found. The retired newspaper photographer thanked Mike Dirr for helping with the discovery.

John Malone and Greenfeather™ Pond Cypress

Dirr’s suggestion in his Manual of Woody Landscape Plants that the species was a good candidate for cultivar selection inspired Hayman to stop and take a closer look at a Tupelo with particularly bright red fall foliage, spotted growing alongside a wooded back road in Southern Indiana. Dirr suggested that he send scion wood to us for grafting. Growing trials proved it to be a winner, and Red Rage® Tupelo was introduced as one of the first Nyssa sylvatica cultivars in the marketplace.

Later that afternoon, John Malone stood beside Greenfeather™ Pond Cypress (Taxodium ascendens ‘Carolyn Malone’) and shared the story of its discovery. John is the founder and owner of Summershade Nursery in Georgia and a longtime customer.

The parent tree was among the seedlings John planted to create a grove near the pond on his farm. Over the years, he watched this airy, feathery tree develop a uniquely pyramidal form, considerably more narrow and symmetrical than typical of the species. John showed it to Mike Dirr, who verified its uniqueness and suggested he send scion wood to JFS for propagation and evaluation. Introduced this year, Greenfeather™ Pond Cypress is featured in our 2016 New Trees Video.

Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society

From left: Nancy Buley, Ed Hasselkus, Keith Warren and Guy Meacham

Fifty-two enthusiastic members of the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society eagerly hopped off the bus on August 3, eager to see “what’s new” in trees. It was a special treat for us to welcome Dr. Ed Hasselkus, Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin. We treasure the 30+ years of collaboration with this outstanding plantsman who has been an important partner in our evaluation program that tests our new introductions for regional suitability. Ed was happy to be back in the arboretum, where he admired one of his namesake trees, Northern Glow® Maple (Acer pseudosieboldianum x A. palmatum x ‘Hasselkus’). Our visitors and staff gathered round as he told us the story of his selection and testing of the cold-hardy hybrid of Korean and Japanese Maples

Farwest Week Visitors

Two Michelles admire the VL DD Blanchard Magnolias in one of our Cravo growing ranges.

The J. Frank Schmidt Jr. Arboretum proved to be a serendipitous meeting place for Farwest Show attendees as well as a great place to explore new tree cultivars. Michelle Kadisevskis and Michelle Gaston were attending the Farwest Show as representatives of AmericanHort, and made time in their busy schedule to tour the nursery.

Continental Appeal™ Linden appeals to Kelly Norris and Josh Schultes

Their visit ended at the arboretum, where Kelly Norris and Josh Schultes of Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden joined us for a walking tour. Michelle Gaston was delighted to finally meet Kelly Norris after having arranged via phone and email for the author and speaker to appear at Cultivate ’15 last winter.

Kelly and Josh swooned over the pyramidal form and and striking foliage of Continental Appeal™ Linden. They said the upper Midwest provenance of this big, bold, handsome shade tree makes it a good choice for their acquisition plan that favors native provenance.

Wildflower Grounds Management

Paul and Crissa Sztremer

Paul and Crissa Sztremer admire the soft, feathery foliage of Greenfeather™ Pond Cypress. Newly planted in the J. Frank Schmidt Jr. Arboretum, it will eventually grow to 50 feet in height. Paul and Crissa own Wildflower Grounds Management of Stamford, CT. They were told by several of their East Coast tree suppliers that they MUST visit our nursery while vacationing in Oregon in mid-August. We’re glad they did, because it was an eye-opener for them to learn how we grow the liners that are grown to landscape size by their plant suppliers on the East Coast.

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