Jodi DeLong – A National Treasure!

Jodi DeLong – A National Treasure!Jodi DeLong

Springvale Nurseries and me personally are very fortunate to have Jodi as a friend.  If you don’t know Jodi personally she is an amazing source of knowledge about everything plant and garden related. She is  and and she is a feisty lady who tells it like she sees it.

She is also recognized as Atlantic Canada’s premier gardening writer contributing regularly to ‘The Herald”  “Saltscapes” and other publications.

Among other things, Jodi has been a tireless crusader for the “Buy Local” movement and recognizes that our economy only thrives to the extent that local businesses succeed.

Jodi has also suffered personal tragedy with the loss of the love of her life, Lowell Huntley last winter from a massive coronary.  Lowell was a kind and gentle man who would and did help anyone.  He was taken far too soon.  And Jodi…brave soul that she is continues to move forward, the only thing she can do.  She is tough and she is tender and now has to learn to live without her soul mate.

Today  (June 16th, 2012) Jodi will be with us from 1:00 – 3:00 to talk about “How to Extend the Bloom Season”.  This is a “Walk N Talk” presentation but I understand her legs are bothering her so it may be “Sit n Talk” ! 

We are thrilled to have her coming as part of our 25th Anniversary Sale and Celebration”.  Join us today and have a great filling of Jodi’s wit and wisdom and also “Let them Eat Cake”!  Because…we will have some!

I also want to mention that Jodi’s new book is available at Springvale Nurseries and I expect she would autograph your copy!  (As long as you don’t piss her off!) hehe!

Paul H Grimm

Springvale 8-Pac True Bloom RosesPS:  Today we are also “launching” our new product “Springvale True Bloom 8-Pac Roses” .  These are our tissue cultured roses in a smaller, economical size so that you can buy and plant many of them and today at a great introductory price of $9.99.


The Tiny Titanic Tree

The Tiny Titanic Tree!  Titanic Cemetery Sugar Maple Tree

Springvale Nurseries has been honored by being asked to donate a Canadian Sugar Maple Tree for the “Titanic Burial Grounds” (Fairview Lawn Cemetery) in Halifax where 121 of the titanic victims are buried.  This was done on April 14th, 2012 as part of the celebrations commemorating the 100th anniversary of this historic and tragic event and the role Halifax played in the drama.

We finally made it to see the tree in the cemetery and take its picture yesterday, so if this seems like “Old News”…..sorry!

My grandparents, Lawrence and Ruth Milne both grew up near the Halifax area. Grampy’s roots were in Lake Egmont and Grammy’s youth was in Dartmouth.

Both have been gone for many years but I remember them talking about the Titanic disaster, and the Halifax Explosion and what life was like at that time.

The following excerpt has been taken from Michael R. Nejman’s blog, click here for the full article.

“For 150 victims of the Titanic, Halifax, Nova Scotia (on the East Coast of Canada) proved to be the final stop for the doomed voyage. Thanks to James Cameron’s cinematic “Titanic” (and Walter Lord’s classic minute-by-minute account of that fateful night, “A Night to Remember”), we all know what happened before, during, and moments after the ship sank. But what happened in the days to follow?

Before the survivors even arrived in New York, the first cable ship left Halifax to search for bodies. With 100 coffins, tons of ice, an undertaker and a chaplain, the Mackay-Bennett left on April 17, arriving on-site three days later. They found 306 bodies, so many that embalming fluid ran out and 116 had to be buried at sea. Another cable ship, Minia, departed Halifax on April 22, relieving the Mackay-Bennett and finding another 17 bodies. In all, four ships recovered 328 bodies and returned with 209 which were unloaded at the Coaling Wharf of the Naval Dockyard in Halifax. The class barriers, so typical of life on board the Titanic, were respected even in death. The bodies of first-class passengers were unloaded in the coffins, second-and third-class passengers in canvas bags, and the crew on open stretchers.

Only 59 of the bodies placed in the morgue were shipped out by train to their families. The remaining victims of the Titanic were buried in three Halifax cemeteries between May 1 and June 12, 1912. Nineteen are in the Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery, ten are in the Baron de Hirsch Jewish Cemetery and 121 are in the Fairview Lawn Cemetery. Of these, 42 victims remain unidentified.

Most of the gravestones, erected in the fall of 1912 and paid for by the White Star Line, are simple “black granite” blocks. In some cases, however, families, friends or other groups chose to commission a larger and more elaborate gravestone. Within the last year, there has been restoration work completed on the concrete footings (wall) surrounding the grave sites of the Titanic victims in the Fairview Lawn Cemetery.”

The tree is somewhat insignificant at about 6 ft. in height but nicely branched and sturdy.  The tiniest of trees has been chosen to honor the “Grandest of Ships” and one of the world’s “Greatest Disasters”. We would happily have donated one many times this size to commemorate the significance of this event in the history of Halifax and our country. How it must have impacted them at the time, as 9/11 has impacted us in our time.  The organizers preferred a small tree for photo ops and news broadcasts.

And in many ways a small tree is very fitting.  Because In 100 more years, when the 200th anniversary of the Titanic is celebrated, our little “Titanic Tree” will still be there long after we are gone and perhaps a new tree will be planted.

The tangible value of our donation is insignificant, but being given the honor of this very small place in history is “Priceless”.

Paul H Grimm

Spring Has Sprung – (And the Garden Center Tents are Rising Around the Town!)

Springvale Nurseries 25th AnniversaryI have been terribly behind in my blog posting.  It takes a certain motivation to write and I certainly hope I have it now or you are going to be very bored!

So here are some issues I hope you will find interesting and hopefully share your comments on.

A couple years ago, we nearly lost our business from insufficient sales.  Last year was somewhat better and here it is, 2012 and our 25th anniversary.   We are happy to have made it this far and also, frustrated by how difficult it has been to make a nursery business work in this region and our current economic environment.   Perhaps the shipyard deal will make it better!

A couple weeks ago I met with one of our supplier representatives.  He told me that in the past couple of years he has lost over 40 small garden center clients who have either closed, or actually gone bankrupt!   We know of several once strong and vibrant garden center businesses who have met this fate.  Understand that many of these small businesses, if not most, were also once our wholesale clients.  This has impacted our business as well.

Some would find fault with our course of business and the fact that we are not perfect, have a few weeds, etc.  Yup, you are right!  It takes money to feed the babies and pull the weeds!

But the truth remains, our company and many like us have contributed immensely to the building of our local economy.  When a local business like Pineview Farms in Bridgewater or Green Village in Fredericton goes under is it because they have been poor managers?  I don’t think so!

They have fallen victim to the incursion of the “Monster Stores” into our lives.  Don’t get me wrong, everybody deserves to get the best prices, quality and service.

So let’s look at these individually.

1.     Price:  The chain stores do not add the margin needed by an independent garden center to survive.  This is simply because the tent city garden centre’s only purpose is to attract customers to their store vs. their competition.  The term “Loss Leader’ has been bandied about.  The typical scenario in the chain store garden center loads up with a huge inventory of imported stock and sells it barely above cost during the early part of the season.  At the end of their “market killing“ season usually late June, early July they then start the blowout sale.  This is where stock that wasn’t hardy here in the first place and hasn’t been cared for during the past 6 – 8 weeks is blown out at well below cost until they can dismantle and fold their tents for another year.

2.    Quality:  Much of the imported stock is of uncertain origin or “provenance”.  This is because the suppliers of this stock largely are not growers, they are brokers and they buy whatever they can wherever they can at the cheapest possible price (often from nurseries that have been forced to liquidate).  Do not get me wrong, some of this stock is of good quality, at least when it arrives!  But generally it is not cared for because the minimum wage staff hired to run these stores know little or nothing about how to look after the plants and they become crowded, over-watered or dried out.  Locally grown stock on the other hand costs a bit more because it is grown in a less hospitable environment (IE; The Maritimes, vs. Florida, California , Oregon, etc.))   It is grown by people who have invested their lives in being growers and know how to grow and care for plants that will survive in maritime conditions.  These plants are later flushing in the spring because they respond to our weather, as they should.

3.    Service:  I can’t say never, but I do think seldom can you find the knowledge, experience and care for both the plants and the clients in the chain store situation.  At our business and at most other local nurseries, many of their staff have worked with them for 20 or more years.  And they care about the companies that employee them, they care about their customers and they know and care about their products.  And most of these local garden centers are open all season through the peaks and valleys until the snow flies, many months after the chain stores have sucked the cream out of the market, and folded their tents!

It is a regional and local tragedy when good quality local businesses are forced out by the giants.   If you want to build a garden that will survive through thick and thin, backed by people who care, then shop at your local garden centre.  We want you to shop at Springvale of course!  But also, every community in the region has one or more good local growers who pay local wages, buy local goods and services and support their local charities and their communities.

Just buy your plants locally!  It matters!   Help keep another local garden center in business.

We have a short enough season, but over the past 25 years we have paid out over $10,000,000 in local wages and salaries.  Our staff members have brought up families, sent their kids to college, built homes and….supported all the local businesses around them.

If this sounds like a rant, so be it!  We know we have done our part to support our community for 25 years.

Paul H Grimm.

Fall is Here! The Time For Big Trees Is Now!

Fall is Here! – The Time For Big Trees Is Now!

If you have been sitting on the fence wondering whether or not to plant those big trees, stop thinking and get on the phone to our office.  1-800-313-7444, do it now!  Or come visit us at Springvale Nurseries

We are in clearance mode for our pre-dug stock (dug last spring) and a few field clear out specials.

Our prices on “above ground” pre dug stock are at their seasonal lowest.

These are wonderful healthy trees and we want to find homes for them now, not next spring.  So all above ground wire basket, large caliper trees are offered at WHOLESALE PRICES…..and it doesn’t get any better than that.

Supplies are limited and going fast.  Contact our office as soon as you can to see what is still available. If you have a large planting you have been considering, this is the time.

Unfortunately, this sale will end when the ground freezes and we can’t plant any more so do not wait!

That’s all for now, the message is simple.



Paul Grimm

PS:  We do offer planting service depending on the quantity and distance from Berwick, but time this year is running out.

PPS:  Sorry but the sale extends only to our above ground and a few selected items from our fields, all the rest of our great trees are still available at full price.

It’s That “BFT” Time Of The Year

As we are all aware, fall is just around the corner and….have we really had summer?

We can bitch about it but we can’t change it.


I am going to make this post short and sweet.  We have two digging seasons a year, spring and fall.  It is time now to book any trees you want for our fall dig.

We start digging conifers right away, once they are hardened off.  Most deciduous digging starts towards the end of September.

Blink twice and September will be here.

This is the time for you to place your orders for fall digging.  We hope to have an updated availability of trees in the field very soon.

Call our office for more info on our fall dig.


PS:  BFT – “Big Freakin’ Trees”

The Thin Line Between Life and Death

As you have read in my blog before….business is not easy.  We try at every step along the path to provide good value to our clients and to take care of our staff.   We work hard but we also work safely and take every precaution so that those in our care will be safe.

None of this mattered last week when one of our beloved employees, Don Smith made a miss-step, fell only five feet and lost his life from a blow to his head when it hit the concrete.

We have been through barn fires, financial meltdown and almost every imaginable challenge in trying to keep our ship afloat but all prior difficulties pale to the loss of an employee in such unpredictable circumstances.

Our hearts are heavy as we grieve together as a staff which has become like a family to us. We grieve for Don and for each other.  But most of all we grieve for Don’s father Bud Smith who has recently lost his wife to cancer and now his only child…and is left alone.

Don was buried in a little cemetery in Milford, out near Keji along side of his mother, Shirley.  It could not have been a more perfect place, close to nature and in the wilds of the province.  This is what Don loved….nature, and wild life.   He was a compassionate, articulate and kind man, always cheerful.  While we were taking part in the service I thought I heard the call of a lonely moose off in the distance.

The pastor spoke some of the most comforting words I have ever heard at a funeral service.  He seemed inspired at his choice of words, prayers and scripture.  Don was a self proclaimed atheist but it seems impossible that he is not now in a better place with his Lord, and reunited with his mother.

We are thankful to have known you Don and in sorrow that we have lost you in the prime of your life with so much yet to live.  We do not profess to understand, only accept.

It is only right to weep for those you love.  Don, you were loved.  And we weep.

RIP – Don Smith 1963 – 2011.

$10,000 Gift of Trees to The United Church Camp Meeting Association”


Yesterday we announced we announced a major gift to the United Church Camp Meeting Association because of the destruction which took place in December’s Storm, in keeping with Springvale’s ongoing comittment to community service.

This has been sent to all media in the province and we hope it is picked up to the degree that last year’s announcement of our financial difficulty was publicized.

Here is the entire text of the press release.

PRESS RELEASE: Berwick NS, June 24th 2011

“Springvale Nurseries Makes $10,000 Gift of Trees to The United Church Camp Meeting Association”

It is seldom that a press release contains good news.  Today we are very pleased to announce that our company, Springvale Nurseries has managed to dramatically improve its financial position over a year ago.   Springvale is making excellent progress toward full recovery.

In June 2010 we had nearly depleted all available cash and were facing closure unless we were able to generate some serious revenue from sales.  We announced at the time a “Going out Of Business Sale” for our Berwick (Welsford) Garden Center.

The response from our customer base was overwhelming.  Our clients went away with fantastic value.  This provided us with the cash needed to remain solvent and keep our garden center open.  Landscaping activities through the fall months also assisted in our recovery.

In December of 2010, a monstrous storm ripped through Berwick and surrounding areas.  During this storm Springvale Nurseries sustained massive damage to 90% of its greenhouse structures.  This loss was uninsurable.  We are hoping to receive assistance to rebuild these from the Disaster Relief Program.  This was announced recently by the Province of Nova Scotia to replace and rebuild business assets destroyed in the storm.

Also, during this storm a huge amount of damage was suffered by the Camp Meeting facilities at Berwick United Church Camp.  More than four hundred old growth trees were knocked down and did immense damage to the buildings on the property.

Springvale Nurseries, in celebration of our survival and financial improvement is pleased to announce that we are celebrating in two ways.  Paul Grimm, President of Springvale Nurseries is pleased to announce today that the company is making a gift of $10,000 value of large caliper trees to the United Church Camp Meeting Association.  This will help replace some of the trees lost in the storm.

We are also holding a “Second Annual Going Out of Business Sale” on the anniversary of last year’s sale which saved our business.  This is being held from June 24th – July 24th as a huge “Thank You” to the many customers who helped us stay in business and with continued support, we will be in business for many years to come! .

We are very thankful to all those who continue to appreciate our products and services. As our financial situation continues to improve we plan to continue our tradition of giving back to our community.  We hope that this demonstrates very clearly to the marketplace that there are huge benefits of buying locally grown products; beyond the obvious quality and service value.

With any business recovery some outstanding issues have not yet been fully resolved, nor can we state categorically that we are “completely out of the woods”.

However…it is comforting to know we are on the path to recovery and hopefully within a couple of years, the business will be on full and firm ground for our future developments.

Cash flow, the bane of small business still remains a problem which we are working to overcome with aggressive marketing and sales activities as well as cost controls.

Springvale Berwick Garden Center remains open to the public and our staff have done a
magnificent job so that our product and sales area has never looked better.

Springvale continues to build on its core business lines:
• Retail Garden Center (Berwick Location)
• Large Tree Production and Installation.
• Wholesale Supply to Landscapers and Garden Centers.
• Commercial and Residential Landscape Construction and Installation
• Springvale “True Bloom Roses” (roses on their own roots produced by tissue culture)

The company is also embarking on innovative research and development into native plant propagation and mass production.  This is for application on wetlands and uplands sites to mitigate site damage from construction, highways, mining and other activities requiring site mitigation and restoration.