Urban Trees for a New Century

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A grove of Shawnee Brave® Bald Cypress served as a welcoming committee for green industry professionals who gathered Feb. 25-27 at the iLandscape™ Show in Schaumburg, IL. They stood straight as sentinels, flanking the entrance of the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center, serving as a perfect photo opp for illustrating the Shawnee Brave® slide in our educational session, Urban Trees for A New Century.

Nancy Buley, JFS Communications Director, teamed up with Ornamental Grower Association members Becky Thomas (Spring Grove Nursery), Mike Scheitz (Goodmark Nurseries) and JR Tecza (Hinsdale Nurseries) to present a collection of new and underused trees for the Chicagoland marketplace.  The presentation was framed in the context of comparing today’s tree selection practices with those of a century ago as defined by the landmark urban forestry text, Shade Trees in Towns and Cities, authored by William Solotoroff in 1911.

Nancy’s sharing of historic photos and turn-of-the-century urban forestry advice from the book was followed by OGA panelist commentary on the performance of our trees in their fields and in local landscapes.

The importance of planting for diversity of species was a common thread uniting 1911 and 2015 management practices. Solotoroff named Hackberry, American Ash and Ginkgo as promising newcomers to his recommended palette of Norway and Red Maples, Tulip Trees, Oaks, Lindens and Elms. The addition of cultivars over the past 100 years greatly expands the ability of specifiers to achieve planting diversity. Our session handout recommends 41 species and cultivars that our presenters agree are top performers for upper Midwest landscapes. All are propagated at JFS and sold to customers throughout the Great Lakes region and beyond.

Exclamation!® Plane Tree is an example of the improved cultivars available to today’s urban forest managers. It received high praise from all three OGA panelists, and was a popular topic of discussion at the Chicagoland Grows® exhibit on the trade show floor. This non-profit organization is a three-way partnership between OGA, The Morton Arboretum and Chicago Botanic Garden.

JFS is a licensed propagator for Chicagoland Grows®, and supports its mission of discovering, developing, evaluating, introducing and marketing superior plants adapted to growing conditions of the Upper Midwest.


Our booth was abuzz with tree talk, especially when Chicago Botanic Garden Horticulture staff stopped by to pick up reference guides and catalogs. Pictured from left, Tom Soulsby (CBG Senior Horticulturist) and Roger Purcell (JFS rep for Illinois), Kathryn Deery (CBG assistant horticulturist), Ian McLaren (JFS rep for upper Midwest) and Nancy Buley. In the background, JFS Sales Manager Nick Overall writes an order.

Shawnee Brave® Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum ‘Mickelson’) flanking each side of the dramatic entrance to the host hotel are strong vertical elements that complement the curving walls and roofline and soaring glass façade.

Earl Cully of Heritage® Trees, Jacksonville, IL, visited our booth and verified that the beautifully symmetrical, columnar trees at the hotel entrance were indeed his introduction, Shawnee Brave® Bald Cypress.

Gathered in the Chicagoland Grows® booth (from left) are OGA member Ken Doty, Doty Nurseries; Nancy Buley of JFS; Richard Hawke, Chicago Botanic Garden; Susan Jacobson, Morton Arboretum and Jim Ault, Chicagoland® Grows Plant Introduction Manager.
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