Retailer Spotlight: Catskill Native Nursery

A View of Catskill Native Nursery

A View of Catskill Native Nursery

We are thrilled that so many people want to purchase our plants. We get all kinds of phone calls, emails and people stopping by wanting to purchase our deep-plug plants. But we are a wholesale nursery. This means we cater to the trade. Through seed germination and vegetative cutting, we initiate the beginning of many of those native plants you see in nurseries and garden centers throughout the region. We grow the plants that are put into a restoration area after the soil has been remediated and the grading has been done.  If you are not a professional in the horticulture field, then you will probably be purchasing plants at your local retail garden center. You can find a retailer near you, or plan your next ‘plant-based’ road trip, using our Find a Retailer link at the top of our website.

Our plants may end up in a lot of wonderful places.

One such place is Catskill Native Nursery.

A Shade House at Catskill Native Nursery

A Shade House at Catskill Native Nursery

Nestled next to a historic barn and home that date back to the early 19th Century, you will find Catskill Native Nursery. Owners Dr. Francis Groeters and Diane Greenberg began this nursery in 1997 and opened for business in 1999. Diane was kind enough to take some time out of her very busy days and answer some questions about the nursery (and provide all of these pictures of their operation):

Nursery Location:

607 Samsonville Rd, Kerhonkson, NY

Located in the Southern Catskills, Catskill Native Nursery can be found 23 miles west of Kingston, NY and 24 miles northwest of Kingston, NY.

Nursery Philosophy:

Though they grow native plants for every landscape situation from shady ponds to sunny meadows, the owners of catskill nursery specialize in woodland wildflowers of the northeast. They define native as a plant that has “evolved naturally in a particular region, ecosystem or habitat without direct or indirect human intervention.” They chose to focus on native plants at the nursery because, according to Diane, “it is one of the easiest, most rewarding ways people can help support their local environment in this time of change.”  As is evidenced by the wide variety of wildlife they find in their nursery, the owners also believe that native plants are crucial to the existence of this diversity.

The Woodland Wildflower Area at Catskill Native Nursery

The Woodland Wildflower Area at Catskill Native Nursery

What You Will Find There:

While you will find a lot of wildlife at the nursery, you will NOT find greenhouses here. This nursery uses shade houses and cold frames to raise and store the plants you will be purchasing, ensuring they are suitably hardy for your garden in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic, grown in the conditions in which they will be planted.

On your visit, you will find approximately 1500 species of plants, many of which they propagate themselves. 75% of those are natives, the others are herbs, fruiting trees and shrubs and some cottage garden perennials like peonies, lavender and yarrow.

Wildlife abounds at this nursery. It is a hotspot for photographers and birds alike. During one season they were lucky enough to have an ornithologist working for the nursery who, during the season, counted more than 75 bird species! With this many native plants in a nursery so close to wilderness, you are bound to see wildlife when you visit.

Not Playing Favorites

Diane wouldn’t commit to having a favorite native plant. As a garden designer her favorites are whatever works the best in the environment where they will be planted. Diane’s design philosophy is to mimic nature and choose plants that want to live in existing conditions. Diane believes this is the best way to create a low-maintenance successful garden. She also is happy when anyone chooses a native alternative to invasive plants or overly-used landscape plants such as forsythia and Bradford Pears.

One example of a Meadow restoration completed by the Ecological Landscape Design side of the business.

One example of a Meadow restoration completed by the Ecological Landscape Design side of the business.

Best Sellers and Trends

This year Pawpaws, native persimmons and any Asclepias are in high demand.  As far as trends go, Diane is glad to say she is noticing a trend away from “botanical eye-candy” and towards helping wildlife and supporting biodiversity. She is noticing people replacing the “suburban carpet” of lawn with meadows, ground covers, courtyards and mulched paths. Diane notes that people seem more interested in making a positive difference through their garden. Doug Tallamy’s Article: In Your Garden – Choose Plants that Help the Environment and Gwen Pearson’s Article: You are Worrying about the Wrong Bees have certainly helped to inform the public and influence this trend and just happen to align with Diane’s philosophy.

A View of the Nursery

A View of the Nursery

Thinking about a Native Plant Nursery of your Own?

When asked what advice she would give to anyone thinking about going into the native plant business, Diane recommended:

  • Becoming as knowledgeable as possible. Native Plants, Horticulture, Ecology and Gardening are all topics to look into
  • Taking business classes
  • Working at a nursery first, you will have a better understanding of seasonality and hours
  • Preparing to work every day from March through November
  • Looking into Ecological Landscaping, there is a huge demand there that is not being filled

Finally, Diane recommends reading Tony Avent’s Book: So You Want to Start a Nursery

Want to Work at a Native Plant Nursery?

Catskill Native Nursery hires part-time people in early spring to support long-time staff. Paid internships may also be available.

Tips for Purchasing and Visiting

Sounds like a fantastic place to visit, yes? Diane offers some essential tips for visiting the nursery and purchasing plants:

  • Catskill Native Nursery only sells plants at their nursery to people who visit the nursery. They do not have mail order or a catalog. They do not sell at farmers’ markets or other outlets. Call or email for more information.
  • It is better to come and explore the nursery to find out what is on hand. They have 1500 species available and availability changes all the time. They do not ship plants, they encourage visitors. Around the nursery you will find informational signage and helpful people to answer all of your plant questions.
  • You may be herded into the parking area. The nursery features two Icelandic Sheepdogs. Bred to herd, they can’t help but make sure you get to the right place when you visit. Diane says “Just go where they tell you.”
  • If you are new to the nursery it can be a little challenging to find the first time. But really, there are worse things than getting lost in the beauty of the Southern Catskills. Diane recommends Google, MapQuest or a good ol’ fashioned map to get you there.
Cotinus obovatus

Stunning fall color of Cotinus obovatus

Do you see something on our website or in our catalog that you can’t find at your local garden center? Ask them for it, chances are they will reach out to us and we will grow it for them. This way you can support two local businesses with one purchase!

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