Shipping equinox looms large on our spring calendar

Spring equinox, the moment at which day and night are of equal length, is greeted around the world with much anticipation and fanfare. While many celebrated the advent of spring on March 20, we noted an equinox of a different kind here at the nursery.

Shipping equinox, the moment at which the number of spring-shipped trees roughly equals the number of trees yet to be shipped, took place on our loading docks at about the same time as the much-heralded vernal event.

Our sawdust heeling-in beds are rapidly emptied as trees are pulled, loaded and shipped. Photos were taken six weeks apart on February 6, above, and March 17, below.

In the race to get the job done before bud break, there is no pause for celebration. Our customers need their trees! Though most of the bare root trees are walked into the trucks one or two bundles at a time, our efficient stackers can fill a truck with bare root trees of all sizes in just a few hours and use every inch of space. Their efficiency is reflected in the speed at which our 10-acre sawdust storage bed is emptied. Filled edge to edge with heeled-in bare root and B & B trees in February, it will soon be empty of trees.

By the time the last reefer truckloads of bare root trees pull away from our loading docks in late spring, the equivalent of more than 850 53-ft. semi-truckloads of trees will have been handled by our loading dock heroes. Lined up end to end, that parade of reefer trucks would stretch for almost nine miles!

On the container loading dock, containerized and B & B trees on long rows of pallets are staged for loading and delivery to garden centers and landscape distribution centers across the continent. Our tagging crew works full speed ahead to apply our colorful and informative custom trunk wraps and picture tags to each tree before it’s loaded on the truck. 

So, with all this activity, are we running out of trees? NO! We continue to offer a great assortment of bare root trees that will be held safely dormant in our refrigerated cold storage warehouses through the month of May. We have plenty of landscape-ready container trees, too. Our customers will rely on these for restocking their garden centers throughout the growing season. A sampler of the exceptional trees that are filling trucks during this shipping equinox week is shared below.

Exclamation!® Planetree

Platanus x acerifolia ‘Morton Circle’

Durable, handsome and carefree, this planetree demands attention wherever it’s planted. An upright, pyramidal canopy shaped by a strong central leader and well-spaced, upright-angled branches make it an easy-care favorite of growers, landscape architects and arborists.

A top performer among crosses made in the 1980’s by Dr. George Ware of the Morton Arboretum, Exclamation!® Planetree is a hybrid of an unusually anthracnose-resistant North American native sycamore (P. occidentalis) and the naturally anthracnose-resistant Oriental Planetree  (P. orientalis).

This introduction of Chicagoland Grows® resists anthracnose, powdery mildew and frost cracking. Its symmetrical, moderate growth rate and light-fruiting habit are additional reasons to plant this remarkably adaptable urban tree.

Pink Heartbreaker Redbud

Cercis canadensis ‘Pink Heartbreaker’ PP 23043

Redbuds abound in our B & B product line. Of the seven Eastern Redbud cultivars currently available B & B, this vigorous grower is a top pick among weeping forms. Lavender pink flower clusters cling tightly to the weeping branches of this heat and drought tolerant cultivar. Spring growth flushes red and matures to dark green, heart-shaped leaves. Fall color is yellow. Form is wider spreading and more irregular in branch habit than that of the well-known and widely planted Lavender Twist®. Mature height and spread of this Zone 5 ornamental tree are approximately 12’ x 8’ ft.

Prairie Gold® Aspen

Populus tremuloides ‘NE-Arb’

Here’s a cultivar that greatly expands the planting range of this popular native species that’s typically more at home in the mountains than in lower elevation landscapes. Adapted to the heat, drought and humidity of the Midwestern prairie, this Nebraska native brings lowland adaptability and disease tolerance to a high elevation favorite. Introduced in cooperation with the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, this adaptable cultivar is hardy through USDA Zone 4. It grows to a height and spread of about 40’ x 15’.

Recent posts