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Twixwood
Twixwood Nursery, LLC is a
WHOLESALE ONLY nursery and is not open to the retail public. Product pricing and availability subject to change without notice.

For more information, contact your Sales Representative by telephone (269) 471-7408
History
Twixwood Nursery, LLC is a major supplier of groundcovers to the Midwest market. We propagate vegetatively and annually about fifteen million cuttings. There are 1,000,000 square feet of poly houses scattered over four different farms on a total of 450+ acres here in Berrien County, which is the most southwestern county in Michigan. It is a two hour drive from the Loop of Chicago and a four hour drive from: Traverse City, Detroit, Indianapolis, Peoria, and Milwaukee.

The first George Kimmel walked to Michigan from Somerset County Pennsylvania in 1829 and picked out the land that he was to buy and move to in 1831 after it had been surveyed. Land then was $1.25 per acre. Michigan has fertile sandy loam soil that compared favorably with the rocky hills in Pennsylvania. The Kimmel family had immigrated to America in 1750 from the Palatinate because they were Anabaptists and wanted to avoid compulsory military service.

The founders of Twixwood, George and Lou Kimmel, married in 1942 and worked the 80 acre family farm that was located along the St. Joseph River raising apples, sour cherries, asparagus, raspberries, strawberries, and vegetable crops. In the 1960's over half of the farm was subdivided and sold as lots. During this time the first groundcovers were grown when several rows of vinca minor were grown on the flood plain of the river and sold to Mr. Vaughn in South Bend. It grew just like strawberries but was more profitable.

Aerial PhotographTwixwood was started on the remaining 33 acres in March of 1968 when George and Lou built a 40' x 112' fiberglass greenhouse and taught themselves mist propagation. Stock plants of euonymous coloratus were bought in from Lincoln Nursery in Grand Rapids, Thorndale Ivy from D. Hill Nursery out of Chicago, vinca minor 'Bowles' from Springhill Nursery in Ohio, and later on, Pachysandra 'Green Carpet' from Gulf Stream Nursery in Virginia. Plants were delivered in the Chicago area in a 1967 half ton GMC pick up truck with a home made plywood box on the back. The first customers were landscapers and much of the business was built up through the late Bill Koehn's re-wholesale yard, Rosemont Gardens.

Sorting TrayThe purpose of Twixwood when founded was to earn wages for George and Lou who, because of their farming background, age, and lack of education, were effectively unemployable. During the first six years of operation it enjoyed an annual geometric (or logarithmic progression) expansion. This was due to the intensity of the Chicago market, the recent development of the use of plastic trays in which to grow and ship plants, the new popularity of the use of groundcovers, the farming skills of the Kimmels, and their dawn to dusk work habits.

Heretofore, groundcover had traditionally been grown in sand beds and was pulled, wrapped in wet newspapers, and shipped bare root. This limited the time of the year that it could be shipped and successfully planted. Twixwood's first tray and pot were copied from Zelenka Nursery and it was the 12" x 16" Alma flat with 35 2" peat pots from the Keyes Peat company in Louisiana. The 2" peat pot size was that most spaced by landscape architects except in the cheaper Detroit market that used rooted cuttings. These were grown in the same Alma flat with 112 cuttings being stuck per flat and it being shipped by the flat.

At various times Twixwood has grown woody containers; cotoneaster apiculata, euonymous ivory jade, golden vicary privet, and crimson pygmy barberry. We have done miniature roses for the Mother's Day market, medicinal herbs for the ex-hippies, and woody liners for other container nurseries. Now we produce groundcovers, perennials, both division propagated and seed grown, vines, and ornamental grasses. We market herbs, woody plants, and native plants that are custom grown for us by other nurseries.

In 1979 George and Lou retired to the Traverse City area where they spent the next eighteen years growing plants for Twixwood to market and slowing down to working only twelve-hour days. George died in 1997 at age 80 and Lou has moved back to the nursery and keeps an eye on things. The nursery was sold to their son Tom and his wife, Dianne Dicken. At that time it had 84,000 square feet of poly on the original 33 acre farm and it had its first diesel delivery truck, a 20' International. Tom was not much of a farmer having spent his youth getting a college degree in Modern European History, being trained as a combat medic in the US Army, and attending another professional school. However he had done a lot of delivery truck driving for the nursery and was familiar with the customer base and their needs. Tom has taught himself the nursery business taking nursery tours of Holland and England and for the last 20 years being a member and attendee of the International Plant Propagators Society. In 2001 Tom received the Fellow award from the Eastern Region of the IPPS and was honored by the experience. Dianne had bookkeeping and business management experience and she worked with the personnel and financial management end of things. Because of her ability to get along with people and keep everyone on a budget she has been General Manager of the nursery for the last four years.

Twixwood's location in southwestern Michigan just 10 miles east of Lake Michigan gives us a distinctive climate. The hardiness zone is 6 ½ with some years being a zone 7. There is a lot of lake effect snow and lake effect cloud cover. We use clear poly cover in the winter because of that.

The customer base has expanded to include garden centers, re-wholesale yards, mail order firms, and other perennial growers. For other customers to re-ship throughout the US we custom grow in a screened Japanese beetle free facility. A Twixwood characteristic is to offer the same plant in a plethora of tray and pot sizes. Plants are now offered in a rooted cutting tray (100 per tray), a 48-cell pack 10-20 tray, a 2" size in peat pots, svd plastic pots, or 32 Root Tutor tm size, a 3" 18 tray, 4" quart, 1 gallon and 2 gallon pots. We do not want to miss a thing.

In 1985 the Shawnee farm was purchased. It was a 24 acre parcel that was projected to be twice as large as we would ever need. In 1992 we acquired the Niles location, a 4-acre site with a 48,000 square foot gutter connected that had been a failed hydroponics tomato operation. In 1995 the Snow Road 120 acre farm was added and it is used as a field growing operation. In 1996 the 95-acre Stover Farm was bought right across the road from Shawnee and that will the main location in the future. In 2001 the 87-acre Jung Farm (now referred to as Twixwood North) was acquired. It has pure sand and a two-acre spring fed pond and is being developed as the future field growing operation. It will feed vinca minor, perennials, sempervivems, and phlox subulata into the Twixwood container production cycle. In 1987 an arrangement was made to rent 16 acres from our next-door neighbor for field growing vinca and hostas. That has been a great success as we are able to irrigate out of the river and we mow the lawn in exchange for rent and everybody is happy.

Shipping is from a 15,000 square foot covered loading dock and we own or rent seasonally 4 semi and 10 straight trucks. Almost all of our material is delivered in our trucks on folding racks. There is a small pick up yard for local landscaper trade.

We are now in a 4,000 square foot air conditioned office and we have survived four computers; a Commodore, an IBM 36, a Pertec Slice system, and now a Great Plains $80,000 software package and we are fortunate to still be in business.

The work force used to be entirely high school age workers who worked part time after school in the spring and fall and full time in the summer. Now we have a substantially Hispanic work force and a lot of college graduates. At last count we had 6 Western Michigan University, 2 Michigan State University, 1 Purdue University, 1 Ohio State University, 1 Rhode Island University, 1 University of Texas, 1 Walla Walla College, and 1 Andrews University graduates. Tom's degree is from the University of Michigan and this qualifies him to supervise all of the other people.

Over the years we have gone from a summer production and over-wintering in cold frames to a year around production cycle. We now have natural gas at three of our locations and a bank of propane tanks at another one. Eighty people are on the payroll during the winter months.
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