Consolidation of trees in our container yard is a bit like rounding up cattle that have spent the summer out on the open range. Our “container yard cowboys” have spent the past several weeks rounding up somewhere around 350,000 spring-potted trees. Containerized early last spring, they’ve been spaced out for the growing season across 55 acres, stretching their branches to reach the sunlight, and growing in caliper and stature. Penning them up for the winter on approximately 27 acres is no small task, even for our hardy, hardworking tree wranglers.
Day after day, crews load tractor-drawn trailers that zip from end to end of the 80-acre yard, picking up the trees one-by-one and placing them pot-to-pot in large blocks organized by size, species and ship date. The majority are already sold to garden center and landscape distribution center customers. They’re counting on us to overwinter them safely and in top condition for early spring shipping.
Once blocks are filled, they’re surrounded by insulating blankets that fend off the wind and cold. An outer wrap of miles of chicken wire keeps rabbits and other hungry varmints from nibbling on trunks and roots. Tender varieties, and those that don’t like our winter rains, are stored in unheated poly houses to protect them from cold temperatures and our incessant winter rainfall. Out in the can yard, leaves are swept clean, and gravel smoothed in preparation for set-out of the next crop for which potting will begin in January.
Consolidation is a great time to enjoy and appreciate the colors of autumn. A sampler of currently available trees is shared here:
Colonial Spirit® Elm
Ulmus americana ‘JFS-Prince II’
Bright yellow leaves of Colonial Spirit® Elm glow on a crisp and sunny autumn day. Arching branches of this symmetrically vase shaped tree broaden with age to reveal a classic American Elm shape. Branch structure is strong and manageable in both the nursery and the landscape, where it may grow to a height and spread of 65’ x 50’ as it reaches maturity. Selected by the historic Princeton Nurseries of New Jersey, it has proven tolerant of Dutch elm disease by surviving controlled testing.
Here’s an elm that offers fall color rarely seen in the species. While the autumn leaves of most elms merely turn yellow before drifting to the ground, the small, glossy, dark green leaves of Frontier Elm turn a rich burgundy color. The long-lasting show of reddish-purple foliage is particularly striking as it appears fairly late in the season, after most maples, ash and other colorful fall favorites have defoliated. This seedless hybrid elm was introduced by the U.S. National Arboretum.
Named for its three-lobed, trident-shaped leaves, this unusual maple sports a kaleidoscopic array of fall colors ranging from bright yellow and orange to deep red, with splashes of maroon and burgundy for good measure. Dark green, heat resistant summer foliage and tolerance of confined planting spaces and air pollution make it a good choice for street tree use. Small stature (30’ x 30’) and adaptability to tough urban growing conditions contribute to its place on our UtiliTrees™ list. These #3 VL trees are tucked into one of our many unheated poly houses that provide an extra measure of winter protection for this USDA Zone 6 tree.
Royal Raindrops® Crabapple
Not to be outshone by maples and oaks, Royal Raindrops® joined the fall color parade with a medley of bronze-red, purple, orange, gold and yellow tones. Unique for its unusual cutleaf foliage, its spring blooms are bright pinkish red. Purple-tinted leaves emerge as the blooms fade. Foliage intensifies to purple and become deeply lobed as it matures. Its purple color holds well through the summer and into autumn. Its tiny, bright red, persistent fruits sparkle with winter frost and appear to be favored by birds over larger-fruited cultivars. It’s available bare root and containers in a wide variety of sizes, and B&B from Northwest Shade Trees.
Purple Prince Crabapple
Malus ‘Purple Prince’
Here’s a crabapple that holds its own in the fall color parade. These #7 trees are grown on RightRoot® rootstocks. A tree for all seasons, this early-blooming crabapple brightens the spring landscape with bright, rosy-red flowers. As the blooms begin to fade, leaves emerge with a rich purple tint that warms to regal bronze green in summer. An abundant crop of tiny maroon fruits delight gardeners in the fall and persist into winter. Among the most disease resistant of the purple-foliaged crabapples, it offers excellent resistance to scab and cedar-apple rust.
Beautiful fall color is a bonus with this late blooming, very cold hardy fruit tree. Thanks to a late bloom time that protects its gorgeous pink flowers from frost damage and subsequent crop loss, this is the best choice for climates with severely cold winters and springs. Come summer, it will produce bountiful crops of sweet, juicy, and delicious yellow freestone fruits that are ready to harvest two to three weeks before Elberta. Self-fruitful, its estimated chilling requirement is 1000 hours below 45°F. Zone 5-8. Available in #7 containers, it is one of dozens of fruit trees that we offer in #7 containers. See our full line of fruit trees in the Fruit Tree section of our website.
Delicious fruits of summer are followed by a remarkable show of fall color when the narrow, strappy leaves of this popular fruit tree turn from green to glowing orange. Branches are loaded with bright pink flowers in spring that soon develop into an abundant crop of medium size, red-blushed yellow-orange peaches. This frost hardy, self-fruitful freestone variety that ripens in early July to mid-August is the world’s most widely planted peach. Hardy in Zones 5-8 it needs about 800 chilling hours. Trees pictured are in #7 containers and are already producing fruit. Visit our Fruit Tree pages for a cornucopia of ornamental edible tree choices.