The purpose of this missive is to sell plants. We are assuming that anyone receiving this newsletter is busy working and thus does not have the time to read long and rambling messages; besides, our Twixwood social media personage, Cassandra, has me writing a weekly blog. I have received sparse instructions on how to write a blog, besides having no idea what social media is in the first place and even less of a hint as to how that might assist the nursery in making money. I asked my wife what a blog was without telling her that I was really asking about the nursery blog. She told me that blogs were supposed to be boring. Therefore, I have assumed that a blog is an opportunity for me to express my innermost feelings and so I am saving these for the blog. Here in the
Leaflet we are making lists of plants that we have for sale.
Firstly there is Carex rosea and we have 40,000 plugs each of the 72 cell pak, Deep 50 cell pak, and 32 count 2 ½” SVD individual pot. If that is not enough for you, then we have 100,000 of the very small 98 cell pak plugs. These we plan on potting up into some larger size for later sales. Let us know what kind of a pot or plug you would prefer these in for August and September sales. The common name is Rosy Sedge or Curly-styled Wood Sedge. It is a native of North America and Bluestem Nursery out of Canada describes it as being an “elegant green sedge” and I want whatever they are smoking up there. You are probably wondering why we have so much of this fine plant when it has never been mentioned before and is not in the price list. We are busy figuring out who to blame. The story is far too complex to explain here, but there is a story. We need to, want to, really want to, unload these plants on some unsuspecting person. Call Homer here at the nursery if you want to make a deal. I am too emotional to talk to anyone over the phone. You may also wonder why all of our Carex pensylvanica liner plants have suddenly disappeared from our inventory—again, another story for another time.
The new business model of Twixwood is to make and sell liner plugs whenever and wherever possible. This is a little tricky as we do not have a reputation for growing liner plugs and we do not have the requisite customer base that uses liner plugs. On the other hand, liner plugs sell for more money than pachysandra and so we are onto it and into it now. Here is how this works: we need some lead time to make the liners. If you see a plant in our price list the probability is good what we have lots of stock beds out in the fields what we can use to efficiently produce many liners. As one example, we were short of Coreopsis verticillata ‘Zagreb’ a few years ago and so I produced quite a few without bothering to keep count and then we had too many and so the logical conclusion was to plant them into the field. I forgot to take geometric progression into account and so we have plenty if anyone wants them. The field stuff works better if dug in late fall or early spring and divided up and potted into 2 ½” pots or plugs. Likewise we can do unlimited numbers of Geranium ‘Bevans Variety’ and ‘Karmina’ and ‘Biokovo’ and ‘Max Frei’ if given a heads up.
Carex is a cool weather plant and so that is when it can be divided and re-planted. If the roots are disturbed in the heat of summer it does poorly. Therefore, we are constrained by the time of year we can process this plant. The ones we are advertising were done last winter, about December and January 2018. We did not advertise these sooner as we were uncertain as to when the root development would support a tight root structure for transplanting. We now know that the middle of May is about right. We have a psychological problem here with the sales staff as they are very dedicated to good customer service and have strong feelings about what are good looking plants and what are ugly plants. I am busily trying to explain to them that when selling a liner plant, which is something that gets potted up into a gallon and held for a season before selling, good looks is not an issue, only good roots are what matter.
It is important to make this distinction because this Rosy Carex was grown in poly houses that were heated since the middle of February and the plants got stretched and then fell over, so the tops look real floppy while the roots look excellent. When shipping we can trim these to any height specified by the customer. We have no idea what damage is done by trimming most of the foliage off a carex.
Speaking of carexes, we have 10,000 deep 50 plugs of Carex flacca ‘Blue Zinger’. Someone told me to dig a row and divide it and the row as about 300’ too long.
Some liners we do in a 3 ½” 18 pots to a tray size. This upshifts into a gallon quickly. And so we have 4,000 Seslera autumnalis and 2,000 Sesleria ‘Greenlee Hybrid’ all thick and ready to go. We have a great over-abundance of these two Seslerias out in the field and so next winter we can do an unlimited number. The organization and production scheduling staff is on to me now and so we will want some hints that someone will think about purchasing these liners before I am allowed to dig them next Fall.
Speaking of plants that have to be propagated at a very precise time of the year, there is Sporobolus ‘Tara’, a Roy Diblik selection that is quite distinctive. Unlike regular Sporobolus that is seed grown, ‘Tara’ is propagated by division and the production of it is tricky and we have it completely wired. The problem that it is just now, about the first of June, that the plant is well enough rooted and established to be sold as a liner. The tops are a little light at this time. And so we have 45,000 2 ½” SVD pots that come 32 to a tray. We did not have enough experience growing these to start to advertise them sooner. Several years ago I advertised, proudly as it were, that we had successfully rooted a few liners and someone immediately called to put in an order for some 2 gallon pots. This is not that fast of a grower. If we are notified soon enough in the summer, we can have enough stock to make nearly unlimited numbers of liners for a year from now. The production system is tricky and so we need either good luck, prescience, or some assistance from the customer base in order to get the numbers right.
Speaking of regular seed grown Sporobolus heterolepis, we have 67,000 2 ½” SVD pots and 56,000 Deep 50 plugs and about 100,000 small 98 cell paks just now germinating. We have our own seed orchard and have lots more seed that I keep threatening to sow and any time. This makes the organization and production scheduling people nervous.
Speaking of being organized; the predictors of the future carefully track sales for the past three years and then take into account large custom grow orders and past shortages. In theory they schedule just enough production to fill customer demand. We do not want to miss a sale and we do not want to be plant collectors either. And so we have lots of good stuff that is under staged production so that plants are coming on in bloom and whatnot all of the time. Ideally, we are able to match our facilities (growing space) with our market. Sometimes errors are made and sometimes I see opportunities to modify the business model to make it more profitable and sometimes those are both the same thing. Anyhow we have 10,000 large plugs of Geranium Max Frei and 7,000 plugs of Geranium Biokovo and we do not have the time to go into all of that, except to note that we can make this mistake even more next winter.
As mentioned several times, the 10,000 extra gallons of very heavy and well-cut back Thorndale Ivy was caused by a cancelled order. Because it takes a year and a half to make a good gallon we got a head start on it to make sure of the quality. Our loss is your gain. Recently we discovered 4,000 good liners in a 2 ½” SVD of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Massachusetts’ Bearberry. Arctostaphylos has been historically difficult to root and we have the system now wired and so I make as much and as many as we can find cuttings for and because this is a geometric progression things may be dicey in the future. As with most of the above-mentioned liner plants, the timing of the year for propagation is critical and so this (about the end of May) time is about when they are saleable. It is absolutely critical that Arctostaphylos roots not be disturbed when being transplanted. I made the mistake about ten years in a row of trying to transplant bare root Bearberry and, because I am a quick learner, I now have it figured out. It used to all slowly die after the transplanting, no matter what time of the year. Our SVD’s now have a really good tight root mass. We stick 3 cuttings per pot and although not all survive the experience they look pretty good.
Sometimes we just like to make plants. We have all kinds of Vinca minor ‘Ralph Shugert’ ready to divide and pot up into whatever pot the market wants. This is the very nice variegated Vinca ‘Bowles’ that does not revert and holds its good color and the patent has now expired. We have lots of Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’ in one and three gallon containers. These are now being cut back and trimmed unlike what we did in olden times. We got into this Rhus business a few years ago when there was a big shortage in the Chicago area. There does not appear to be a shortage any more, or maybe people have developed sudden pangs of conscience, whatever, we would like to sell our collection.
What we want to do now is to give you some idea of our inventory situation and so here is a listing, organized by numbers available, of one gallon perennials, grasses, vines and whatever that we have on hand. All summer long we are potting up and growing on, so there will be a continuous inventory on most of these. We hope that this listing will give you lots of confidence in our production capability.
Some plants we can dig out of the field and do all summer long. The list would include: Hemerocallis ‘Stella de Oro’, Liriope spicata, Allium ‘Summer Beauty’ and ‘Millennium’, and Iris ‘Caesar’s
Brother’. Plants such as the grasses die just thinking about getting dug and exposed to the sun and wind in the middle of summer.