Seven years ago I began my journey as a cottage owner north of Huntsville, Ontario. At the time I did not know that I had been bitten by the gardening bug, a very insidious disease. Once the disease takes hold victims feel a compulsion to spend much of their free time digging in the dirt and using their money to buy plants and seeds.
The previous home owners had a minimalist approach to landscaping, and I saw an opportunity to increase my breadth of gardening given my new found acreage.
I quickly learned that growing in the upper limits of zone 4 is much more challenging then in the Greater Toronto Area. In my first years I had a lot of die off. When gardening in Northern Ontario you have to contend with a shorter growing season, harsher weather, animals, and you have to be more diligent in sourcing the right plant materials for your garden.
I quickly came to the realization that the larger retailers carry limited nursery stock that thrive in northern gardens. For that reason, I turned to mail order as a way to get the plants, seeds and trees that I wanted. I have tried various companies over the years, but this season I ordered plant material from 3 nurseries, listed below.
Located in Edmonton, Alberta Tree Time is a Western Canadian company that specializes in selling prairie hardy tree and shrub seedlings.
- Ordering is very easy as the website
- Website identification of which plants are sold out
- Online chat line which can assist you with any problems you may encounter.
- Various discounts which you could take advantage of
- Website allows you the opportunity to select from a variety of shipping dates
- Shipping costs were reasonable, and all plants were received in good condition
- Plugs had appropriate moisture content and properly packaged for shipment across the country.
- Good search engine to find products on their website
- Would like to see more varieties of fruits and berries
Hardy Fruit Tree Nursery (http://www.hardyfruittrees.ca)
Located in Saint-Julienne Quebec., their focus is on propagating, growing and selling fruit trees that are adapted to the northern climate. They grow all their own trees
- Trees are grown naturally without herbicides, fungicides or chemical fertilizers.
- Excellent selection of hardy fruit trees and berries
- Great information on pollination and hardiness zones, and plant characteristics
- Good reference information on pruning, planting etc.
- Easy to use checkout system
- Quick delivery, everything well packaged
- Website could be streamlined to identify sold out plants easier, avoiding wasted time looking at products only to find out they are not available
- Limited quantities of more popular products at times.
T & T seeds (http://www.ttseeds.com)
T & T seeds is located in Headingley, Manitoba, and are in their 72nd year of operation. They specialize in early season garden seeds and nursery stock for the home gardener.
- Good selection of fruit, trees, berries, bulbs, seeds, and accessories
- Good selection of cold hardy fruits and berries
- Easy to order with good customer service
- Website design and layout
- Improved product information on nursery stock would be beneficial
Over the last few years I have planted a variety of berries, fruit trees and deciduous trees on my property. The fruit trees have not started producing yet but I am hopeful that I will begin to reap the bounty of my efforts soon. The berries I planted produce a nice supply and variety of berries throughout the year.
I am hopeful that the nursery stock I planted this year from the 3 mentioned suppliers will grow well over the coming year. My biggest regret is that I am limited in acreage and that I cannot continue endlessly try new varieties of fruits and trees in my garden. I will however experiment over the next few years with a few other suppliers which I have had not yet had the pleasure to try yet, such as Green Barn Nursery, Whiffletreefarm and Nursery and Veseys seeds.