About our Company

About our Company

Guidelines for Ordering and a brief history of our Company

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Our nursery is known around the world as a premier source of deciduous shade, flowering and ornamental trees. Our roots run deep in Oregon, “The Nursery State,” where we grow more than 500 varieties and cultivars of deciduous trees. We’ve been “Growing New Ideas" since 1946 and are unique among nurseries for our research and development efforts that have brought more than 100 new tree cultivars to the marketplace.

Each year, we harvest and ship more than 1.5 million trees. The majority of our deciduous trees are harvested bare root in the winter while dormant. They are graded and stored, and then shipped in refrigerated trucks to nurseries throughout the U.S. and Canada. Our customers may line them out in their fields for growing to landscape-ready sizes or establish them in containers for sale to local garden centers, landscape contractors and other tree planters.

A portion of our bare root trees are established in containers and sold to garden centers, landscape distribution centers and landscape firms. Over the years, we’ve developed product lines of trees grown in containers or field-planted root bags for species that are difficult to transplant bare root. A select line of grafted conifers complements our otherwise deciduous product line.

We welcome your wholesale business

Due to the wholesale-only nature of our business, a $2,500 minimum order is required. Our sales are limited to the landscape and nursery trades and to companies with valid state nursery dealer licenses and resale certificates. Those who meet these requirements are invited to request our current wholesale price catalog and stock availability. Orders may be placed with the sales representative in your area, or by calling our Customer Service Representatives in Oregon. Terms of business transactions and shipping information are included in our catalog.

We are not staffed to accommodate consumer requests. However, we welcome all to enjoy our site and learn about our nursery and the trees we grow. Our trees are sold throughout the United States and Canada and can often be special ordered if your local nursery does not presently carry our stock. We partner with international licensees in Australia, Europe, and Asia to make some of our finest cultivars available around the world. Our TreeLocator™ service is designed to help our customers connect with specifiers, urban foresters, landscape contractors and others who seek to purchase our trees grown to landscape size.

Business and family grow up together

Our nursery history and family history are shared here because they are intertwined. Although our company has grown into one of the country’s largest producers of shade and ornamental trees, it is still very much a family business. Today it is governed by second and third-generation family members who steward the founders’ goals and values and steer the company into the future.

For 75 years, the Schmidt family has been growing beautiful trees and "growing new ideas." We’re very proud of the business that took root soon after Frank and Evelyn Schmidt married in the fall of 1946 in Evelyn’s hometown of Swissvale, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The honeymooners drove cross-country and arrived back in Oregon in time to plant a fall crop of seedlings that was the start of a nursery of their own.

Beginnings

Newlyweds Frank and Evelyn Schmidt planted their first trees on 10 acres located west of Troutdale, Oregon, near the nursery where Frank Jr. had grown up. He had learned how to grow trees from his father, J. Frank Schmidt, Sr., a leading nurseryman of his era. The rich alluvial soil that slopes gently northward toward the Columbia River was ideal for growing nursery stock. The post-war building boom was on, and there was a great demand for trees in cities, suburbs, industrial parks and public places.

Frank Jr. recognized a demand for trees of consistent quality, form and survivability, grown from superior parent stock. He soon carved a niche for himself by perfecting the mass production of bare root shade and flowering trees produced by grafting selected budded cultivars onto seedling rootstocks. From the start, it was important to Frank to produce the best quality trees possible and sell them at a reasonable price.

Growth years

As the nursery grew, four children were born: Joyce, twins Jean and Jan, and Frank III. As the nursery outgrew the original 10 acres, more land was purchased near Gresham, Boring and Canby. The purchase of Milton Nursery in 1967 added a 90-year tradition of excellence. This fine old nursery located at Milton-Freewater, near Pendleton in the northeastern corner of Oregon, was one of the earliest sources of grafted fruit trees in the West.

Headquarters was moved in 1973 to its present location at Hood Acres Farm near Boring. Additional purchases brought the company's land base to about 3,000 acres of Oregon's finest soils. This ample acreage allows for crop rotation cycles, fallowing and cover cropping - good farming practices that improve soil tilth, reduce weed and soil pathogens and reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides.

Ideal growing conditions

Microclimates and soils unique to each of our farms enable us to choose the best growing conditions for each variety of tree. Heat loving, cold-tolerant species such as serviceberry, elm, hackberry, and honeylocust prefer the hot summer/cold winter high desert environment of northeastern Oregon. Maples, oaks, beech and conifers thrive in the more temperate, cool summer climate of the Boring area that is influenced by the Columbia River Gorge. Flowering crabapples and cherries, ginkgoes and redbuds flourish in the milder, somewhat warmer climate of the mid-Willamette Valley. All farms are blessed with abundant, fresh and clean water, mostly delivered directly to the root zone via drip irrigation. Trees are irrigated on a regular schedule throughout our dry summers, one of many reasons why we are able to deliver consistent quality year after year.

Beauty contained

For the first 40 years, the nursery was primarily known as a producer of superior bare root trees. In 1984, we pioneered the technique of containerizing bare root trees in order to extend the selling season. Containerized trees answer consumer demand for plants that are easy to handle and install, have excellent survivability, and are available year-round. Today our containerized trees are sold at garden centers throughout the West and beyond.

Predictable performance

Always on the lookout for trees that grew well in the nursery, Frank Jr. selected a number of superior clones that delivered predictable performance and appearance. The best of these was Red Sunset® Maple, a tree that put J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co. on the map soon after its introduction in 1966. Named the “Number One Shade Tree” in Ohio Shade Tree Trials, it soon became the top selling red maple in the country. More than 50 years later, it remains a very popular cultivar.

The success of Red Sunset® Maple inspired the evolution of a dedicated research and development program that has given rise to the introduction or co-introduction of more than 100 unique tree cultivars. Most continue to be available in the trade. Two promising introductions; Royal Raindrops® Crabapple (2003) and Redpointe® Maple (2006), rapidly rose in market acceptance and popularity to become our current best-selling trees. Crimson Sunset® and Urban Sunset® Maples, Urban Pinnacle® and Streetspire® Oaks, and Sparkling Sprite® and Ruby Dayze® Crabapples are among our rising stars.

Trees for tomorrow

The R&D program evolved under the guidance of Keith Warren, who instituted a rigorous process of propagation, selection, observation and trial that may require 15 or more years before a new tree is released to the trade. Now retired from his role as Director of New Product Development, Warren was instrumental in developing 41 of these to date. Post-retirement, he co-authored The Tree Book with Dr. Michael Dirr, published by Timber Press in 2019 and on track to become a “must-have” horticultural reference.

Our quest for new and improved urban tree cultivars is a collaborative effort. We cooperate closely with trusted nursery partners, with plant breeders and horticulturists at universities and public gardens and arboreta, with USDA and municipal urban foresters, and with tree advocates from far and near.

Now managed by Guy Meacham, our New Plant Development program is focused on developing climate-resilient trees for urban sites that can thrive despite air pollution, soil compaction, insect attack, temperature extremes and other environmental challenges. A special emphasis is to develop cultivars of North American native trees. Our goal is to develop cultivars that are more tolerant of urban growing conditions than their respective species, which often fail to thrive in the decidedly non-native environment of city streets and landscapes.

Top performers from this effort include Emerald City® Tulip Tree, American Dream® Oak, Autumn Treasure® Hophornbeam and Firestarter® and Afterburner® Tupelos. Maple, oak and ornamental crabapple breeding and selection efforts have added remarkably successful trees to the urban tree planting palette. Building on successes of the past, our experimental blocks are a rich genetic bank that is home to hundreds of promising trees under observation for possible future introduction.

Growing new ideas

A constant challenge in our company is to grow better trees. The Schmidt motto, "We're Growing New Ideas," is apparent throughout the nursery, where many home-grown innovations make work easier and faster and help the trees grow better.

In 1965, we changed to wider row spacing than was customary in the industry. Giving trees more room to grow was a first step in developing consistent quality trees with uniform branch structure and well-balanced canopies. Soon after, we began experimenting with tipping the leaders of young trees and taping in new leaders in order to encourage branching and to establish a better canopy structure.

One innovation that has had a big impact on the shade tree industry is the Grow-Straight® stake. Prior to its invention, a crook at the bud union referred to as "dogleg" was a problem in shade and fruit tree production. We developed a simple stake to guide the bud’s growth upward as it emerged from the graft union, and the Grow-Straight® Plant Growth Control Stake was born and patented. We told the nursery world that doglegs belong on dogs and began manufacturing them for our own use and for sale to other nurseries in 1975.

Giving back

Founded in 1986 to mark the 40th Anniversary of the company, the Frank & Evelyn Schmidt Family Foundation has given millions of dollars in support of horticultural research, scholarship and education, to which approximately 2/3 of annual gifts are directed. The Schmidt family recognizes the importance of community and family by directing the remaining 1/3 of annual gifts to medical research and local charitable organizations. Funding of medical research is given in memory of Joyce Schmidt, beloved eldest daughter of Frank and Evelyn. Joyce’s untimely death during her senior year in high school from a now-treatable illness inspires her family to support lifesaving medical research for future generations. As of our 75th anniversary, Foundation gifts total nearly $7 million.

History in the making

As we celebrate our Diamond Anniversary, our nursery is recognized worldwide as a leading supplier and introducers of superior trees. Frank Jr. passed away in 2006, and Evelyn in 2017, but their spirit and founding principles live on through their children and grandchildren who are leading the nursery into the future.

Daily operations are implemented by a dedicated management staff that is advised by a Board of Advisors composed of second and third generation family members and three independent outside advisors. Frank III and Jan stepped back from their CEO and Executive Vice President leadership roles in 2020 and continue as Chair of the Board and Chair of the Frank & Evelyn Schmidt Family Foundation, respectively. Their sister, Jean Webster, who has served on the family board of directors since the mid-1970’s, continues to serve as a board advisor.

Frank Jr.’s founding principles remain the same; to raise the best trees possible and sell them at a fair price. The ability to listen to customers and respond to their needs continues to be at the heart of the business. A recently updated Mission Statement guides us in our daily efforts to grow exceptional trees while providing outstanding service and support to our customers and the horticultural community.

Our company is proud of the beautiful trees we grow. Our pride is apparent at every farm, with each employee working to grow the finest trees that can be grown. Today, the history of our next 75 years is being made, because we always keep trying to grow better trees than we've ever grown before.