by Connie Oswald Stofko
Sales of tree and shrub seedlings are again being held in Western New York through counties and through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
Here are 5 reasons why you should consider buying tree or shrub seedlings:
- The plants are inexpensive. They’re seedlings, so they’re not very big, but they don’t cost much, either. You do have to buy in quantity (I think the smallest quantity was five seedlings), but I’m sure you know another gardener or gardening organization that will be happy to nurture any seedlings you can’t use.
- Did you lose a tree or shrub in our two big winter storms this season? Find something to replace those that were damaged.
- Most of the plants offered in the sales are natives. To help the bees and butterflies and birds–and our environment as a whole–we need native trees and shrubs in our yards.
- When we think about our gardens, we usually think about “plants”–perennials and annuals–rather than shrubs and trees. Look at the list in your county and the DEC sale. You may find that a tree or shrub is just what you have been missing in your landscape.
- We gardeners love our tomatoes and peppers, but don’t forget that food grows on trees, too! Once they are established, trees and shrubs will be there every year–you won’t have to keep buying new seedlings every spring the way you do with tomatoes and peppers.
Tree & shrub seedling sales
The sales have different ordering deadlines. The organizers suggest you order early to make sure the items you want are still in stock.
The county sales generally have you pick up your seedlings in April.
Some of the sales offer additional items, such as a tree shelter to keep rabbits or deer away from your tree seedling.
The Colonel William F. Fox Memorial Saratoga Tree Nursery annual spring seedling sale is open to the public and runs until May 12. Each year, the nursery offers low-cost, New York-grown tree and shrub species for sale to encourage plantings that help conserve the state’s natural resources and foster the next generation of forest.
Browse this year’s selection. Get your order in early because many favorites go quickly. They recommend placing your order by phone for the most up-to-date species availability information. Seedlings will be shipped mid-April through May.
Sales in WNY counties
Orleans County (See pages 6 &7.)
Free seedlings for youth education
Applications are being accepted now through March 31 for the School Seedling Program. Schools and youth education organizations may apply to receive up to 50 free tree or shrub seedlings to plant with their students.
All schools (public, private, nursery, elementary, secondary, vocational, college or university), homeschool groups, and any youth education-based organization may apply, provided trees are planted within New York State. Individual homeschools must apply through a homeschool group, co-op or other association.
Seedlings are two to three years old, about four inches to 12 inches tall, and bare-root. There are three packets available: 50 white spruce, 25 red oak, or 30 mixed shrub species good for wildlife habitat. Each school or organization may receive only one packet per year.