Wednesday, March 19, 2014

WAR OF THE plant WORLDS! (apologies to Tom Cruise)

I don’t know how things suddenly went crazy.  Everything was just moving along in a normal pattern; plants were growing, cuttings were rooting, customers were loading up their Landscape operations and Retail Garden Centers with inventory….in fact, it was the definition of a perfect early spring season.

The trouble started with a small green blotch.  It first appeared like a delicate frond of a fern laying on the soil in the plant flat…but it was no fern.  It was the first scouts leading the way for an alien invasion from the planet LIVERWORT.

Within days a soft green layer of this Alien scum covered the soil layer smothering the plants.  It quickly spread to the Nursery Staff, covering their skin and clothing with its vile growth, attaching itself with its small hair like “roots”. It was clear that the World as we knew it might have a new master.

Just when all hope was lost, all efforts by the Military and the Dow Chemical Herbicide Department had proved futile, a slight glimmer of hope shone through the storm.  The weapon was simple.  In trial and error tests of vinegar, Clorox, detergents, and other common household items one brave freedom fighter spilled a little Arm & Hammer Baking Soda on the Alien scourge.

“It just wilts away!” shouted one of the rebel horticulturalist freedom fighters.  “Look! The plants above are untouched but the Alien LIVERWORT is tuning into a brown mush!”

“Muster the F-16 crop dusters!” shouted the General in charge of the world defense effort. “Go to Sam’s Club and Costco, find all the Baking Soda on the planet, and mount a counter attack!  Here……use my Visa so I can get the credit card points.”

Soon Nursery employees armed with backpack dusters were beating back the Alien invasion.  With a couple of applications, (when the foliage is dry), the nuisance pest can be virtually annihilated with zero harm to the plants and the environment.

“Some of the spores will survive” warned scientists. “We must be vigilant to continue spot applications to control the population.  Once the plants leave the easy environment of the greenhouse, the LIVERWORT can only survive in moist, shady environments. Our greenhouses are safe for plants and Mankind!”

A great cheer arose from all across the world. Children could now sleep safe in their beds.  Gardeners could now come out into the light!

Brian Decker
Il Presidente
Tee-Shirt Model
 Decker's Nursery

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Since I am not clever or creative enough to figure out an interesting story line to go with this process, we will just stick to basic information.  In most conifer grafting, we generally use a two year seedling as an understock.  These plants are produced at a seedling specialist nursery that is capable of producing accelerated growth one year plugs.  We receive these plants in late winter and use our drill potting system to transfer them to a 4 inch pot.  These liners are then grown for an additional summer, generally increase in size three fold, and are used for grafting the following winter.

In order to give us flexibility to transplant into various flat configurations, we developed a simple system using a heavy duty hand drill mounted with a dowel (we use different bits for different size plugs).  These dowels were produced from aluminum at a local tool and die shop.  In the end, due to the fact that this type of transplanting occurs seasonally and in many varied formats, this simple system was far more cost effective than expensive fixed multiple drill bits on a standard flat transplanting machine.

Points to consider:
·         Use GFI outlets to power the drills to provide extra electric shock protection.
·    Apply extra electrical tape insulation to any cord areas that are subject to high traffic or abrasion.
·         Inspect the cords often to insure a safe working environment.

A crew of less than ten people can easily transplant tens of thousands of liners a day with this simple, under $300 system.

From left to right: fresh potted Picea abies plug to 4" pot; Picea abies 2 year seedling; trimmed Picea abies 2 year seedling with a Picea p. 'Blue Totem' side veneer graft; one gallon grafted 'Blue Totem' one year after graft; one gallon grafted 'Blue Totem' two years after graft

Our source for these high quality conifer plugs (Pines, Spruce, Hemlock, Fir) is:
Evergreen Nursery Co. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, 920-743-4464

Brian Decker
Le President
Tee-Shirt Model

 Decker's Nursery

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Serial Killer Identified in North America!

Groveport Ohio, USA-                        URGENT NEWS FLASH!!!

It is being reported today that a serial killer is terrifying much of North America.  This vicious murderer is responsible for thousands of dead Rhododendron plants across the US that have weakened root systems due to high PH soils.

After discovering the grisly crime scene of 5 dead Rhododendrons at the Groveport Municipal Building, the Township Sheriff remarked, “This is just horrible; one of the most gruesome crime scenes I have ever investigated.” Forensics later revealed the soil ph to be about neutral. “They never saw it coming.”

Other instances of dead Rhododendron plants are being discovered across the Midwest section of the nation almost daily.  Fear amongst home owners and Garden Clubs has reached a paralyzing level.
Man consoles friend after loss

In response to this national threat, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is teaming up with Decker’s Nursery, Plant Propagation experts who are affiliated with the International Plant Propagators Society (IPPS).  “We just may have a plan of attack,” said a FBI Spokesperson.

Special Agent Miller addresses crowd
FBI Investigators now believe that Phytophthora Root Rot may prove to be the killer. “It appears this mass murderer preys on the weak rooted victims,” said the Spokesperson.  “When the Rhododendrons are planted in a high ph soil they weaken…and that’s when this vicious killer moves in.”

Hope may be just around the corner.  The Joint Task Force has added a new expert, Plants Nouveau.

“Plants Nouveau is the licensing agent for a new higher PH tolerant Rhododendron known as Inkarho #37.  If we use the talents of the Propagators at Decker’s Nursery to graft scions of North American cultivars onto Inkarho #37 understocks, we can use these new plants for distribution into the parts of the United States currently terrorized by this serial killer,” stated the FBI in a news conference.  “We may not be able to put Phytophthora Root Rot in a jail cell, but we can stop the madness.The FBI has taken all steps possible to guard and protect the young plants necessary to develop this program. “Security is tight,” said the FBI spokesperson, “I would not want to be a Pathogen attempting to sneak into Decker’s Nursery to do harm.”

“The supply of grafted Inkarho #37 Rhododendron cultivars continues to grow and is spreading across the country as we speak.” reported the FBI. “We expect to see the instances of murdered plants decline soon


Gardeners across the nation have expressed hope in these efforts. “Thank Goodness for the skilled grafters at Decker’s Nursery,” professed one relieved homeowner. “Spring can once again be a beautiful time of year!”
Brian Decker
Der Prasident
Tee-Shirt Model

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Paul Palmatum ..…a Free Spirit in the Nursery.

            It was a beautiful late summer morning in the Nursery.  The irrigation had just delivered its ¼ inch of nutrient laden rain and the mist was slowly rising from the fresh puddles on the black weed barrier cloth. Paul Palmatum is just opening his stomata to breathe the fresh morning air next to all his siblings in the plant tray.

Paul is a one year seedling just like all the others in his flat.  Similar size, leaf color, stem diameter….every plant the same.
“UGGGGHHHHH” groaned Paul. “I am just another little Japanese Maple amongst thousands. What will I become?  How will I ever stand out in the landscape?”
“Quit your complaining!” shouted his flat mate Peter Palmatum. “Of course we are the same. Mike the Manager (also known around the Nursery as “Clipper Mike”) wants us that way.  Predictability, uniformity, and equality are the traits Clipper Mike wants in an Understock.  Remember the nail that sticks up gets quickly hammered.”
“Whatever” mumbled Paul. “I just want to be something special someday.”
Next to the block of Japanese Maple Understocks was a large block of thousands of potted Boxwoods.  All the boxwoods were very excited as they were all lined up to go through the trimming machine.  The boxwood next to Paul was named BOB 32.  He was 14 inches form his neighbor Boxwood BOB 33.
“How can you stand it?” asked Paul.  “After you guys go through the trimming machine you will all look even more identical than you do now.  And why for crying out loud are you all named BOB???”
“We want to be exactly alike!” said BOB 64.  “We also like the name BOB because it is spelled the same forward and backward.  Everything is the same.”
“You guys are hopeless!  Can’t at least one of you be a Topiary or something?”
“We save that for the Green Mountain Boxwood” remarked BOB 28.
Later that year Paul and all his flat mates were brought into the warm greenhouse. Much to Paul’s dismay they were all cut to a height of 15 inches.
“Great!” moaned Paul, “Now I look like a pencil; a tray of 35 EXACT DUPLICATE PENCILS!.  This is just not going to do.  I have finally realized that as a plant, I am a non-conformist!”
“Relax dude,” said Perry Palmatum from the corner slot in the tray. “I heard a rumor that, as Understocks, we are slated by Clipper Mike to be grafted with scions of ‘Crimson Queen’ Japanese Maple.  This means that we will grow with irregular forms, frilly red cut-leaf foliage, and each have an individual unique weeping habit.”
Paul could not believe his ears.  He was so excited that night he could barely keep his buds from breaking dormancy.
“I hope the knife cut won’t hurt,” remarked one of his flat mates Peter Palmatum.
“I just don’t want an ugly scar!” said Pricilla Palmatum.  “You all remember that botched top graft on that Weeping Snow Fountain Cherry last spring.  She will never wear a Bikini again.”
The next day Paul and all his flat mates were brought to the grafting table. True they were frightened, but a new destiny awaited them all.  Before they knew it, the Professional Propagator snipped, slashed, sliced, and tied.
The Nitrogen boost they had all been given had barely worn off when Paul woke up to find himself mulched up around the graft and sitting in a warm, humid comfortable graft case.  That is when Paul noticed he was not alone.
“Who the heck are you!” inquired the weak and wounded seedling.
“Hi buddy!” replied the very over dramatic Crimson Queen. “I am your new top.  This is fantastic! Just yesterday I was just another branch on a tree and now, thanks to your roots, I am off with you to plot our new destiny.”
Paul was shocked. “This is going to take some getting used to,” he muttered quietly to himself.  “I don’t know if he and I are compatible.”
Time passed, the incision healed, and Paul’s Understock top above the graft was removed. He realized that he and the Crimson Queen had become one; one tree, one spirit, one very odd and unique plant. When spring arrived and the “new” Paul leafed out, he had to admit he had some pretty fancy duds.
“This is really, really strange.  I guess these fancy leaves are pretty cool but I sure hope we don’t get a frost or a hailstorm.”
“Relax Paul,” Clipper Mike assured him from the door of the greenhouse. “That’s what we managers do in the nursery….protect and keep you delicate “Broadway Showgirl wanna’bees from harm.”
Time passed, Paul grew, and one day Clipper Mike stopped by.
“It’s time to train a strong center leader on you Paul.”  Paul was horrified.  He was so proud of his crossing branches, twisted stems, and his generally mop like canopy.
“Please Clipper Mike, don’t destroy my new persona. Let me be me!”  You could almost imagine the soundtrack to ‘Born Free’ playing in the greenhouse.
“Quit whining! Without a central leader and a strong branching structure you will collapse like the Atlanta Highway Department when you hit your first ice storm.”  And so Clipper Mike trimmed…and staked….and trained…and thinned.  Afterward Paul had to admit he did like the new look.
“Kind of strong and virile with a touch of whimsy” he admitted to himself.
Several years passed in the Nursery and Paul grew, with the help of Clipper Mike to become quite a specimen.  Although he often heard the mechanical noise of the trimming machines that buzzed all around him, he never feared that he would lose the unique appearance that had become his nature.
One day, with little warning and no emotion, Paul was pulled from his growing bay, placed on a trailer with Boxwood BOB 32, 23, 67, 324, 42, and 107.
“Hi Guys!  How have you been?”
“Great!” they all answered in unison.  “We all look so alike they have chosen us to be a border hedge to accent you, our Specimen Focal Point.” It was clear that the Boxwoods used this term with a great deal of reverence.  “We live to serve.”
Paul was speechless.  He was so shocked he almost wilted.  His dream to be unique and a non-conformist tree is coming true.  He also realized that, without the plain green round little balls that were his Boxwood friends his unique appearance would not be so clearly defined.
“A place for every Plant” he finally realized, “Thanks to Clipper Mike for having the skills to grow plants with diversity.”

Brian Decker
El Presidinte
Tee-Shirt Model
Decker's Nursery Website
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Thursday, February 6, 2014

We hope to offer an unique inside look at Ornamental Plant Propagation at Decker Nursery, Inc. Groveport, Ohio USA. We will show propagation and production form a "different" perspective. Enjoy!

 At our Company, we have a long history of Plant Propagation.  The pictures at the right show a freshly completed graft of Juniperus chinensis "Fairview" that has just been grafted on the understock, Juniperus chinensis "Hetzii".  The lower photo shows a flat of fresh grafts mulched in with moist peat moss-Perlite and ready to place in the graft case.

As this is my first attempt at a Blog; please have patience.  If folks are interested in seeing this blog continue with an in depth look at a commercial nursery and how it propagates millions of plants each year for primarily the US and North American market, I would be glad to continue with many pictures and videos.

You can also check out our company at:

Please let me know if you would be interested in me continuing this blog.

Brian Decker