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  Give a gift that keeps on growing

By Jeff Moore - AgriNews Staff Writer

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  • KEMPTVILLE -- It began as an idea to get people to plant trees and has grown to be very popular among the young more environmentally connected X and Y generations to present to their guests as a way to remember their important day. Ferguson Tree Nursery in Kemptville is a division of Ferguson Forest Centre and they give the bride and groom to-be to offer their guests a special way to remember their special day by passing out gift trees.

    The Ferguson Tree Nursery is a business that aims to reforest Eastern Ontario and beyond and encourage certain groups to take the initiative to help make their communities greener.

    The nursery used to be run by the government with a mandate to reforest some of the land that had been cleared and could not be used for agriculture and to study the growth of different species of trees.

    Now the nursery is run by a board of executives and has changed their mandate somewhat to concentrate on zone specific, local, native non-invasive species such as sugar maple, red maple, white pine, white spruce, oak, hickory birch and shrubs. Most of their products are sold to conservation authorities, farmers and woodlots. The centre used to have a retail garden centre but now do most of their sales work online.

    The nursery has four full-time employees and there are seasonal employees added as needed. The CEO of Ferguson Forest is Ed Patchell, the General Manager is Penny Lennox and the Sales and Marketing Manager is Maureen Jacques.

    Gift trees begin when the nursery receives seeds, which come from a seed bank and then the nursery stratifies the seeds. Stratification is the process of treating stored or collected seed prior to sowing to simulate natural winter conditions that a seed must endure before germination. This is done in damp cold refrigerated unit on site. For example, a white pine needs to be in this state for 60 days prior to planting. The seed is then put into a "jiffy plug" which is a wrapping of mesh with a peat pellet. When water is added to the pellet, the peat expands to fill the mesh with the seed in the centre where it germinates and begins to grow. These seedlings are grown in one of five greenhouses.

    Germination begins in March and the seedlings are ready for retail between July and August and are removed from the greenhouses and placed outside where nature takes over. Seedlings that are not sold by November are packaged and frozen, put in a bin and are placed in a hoop house for storage.

    "I go to a few wedding shows throughout the year," says Jacques, " and a lot of people who are planning their weddings seem very interested in the product and the idea." She continued, "Those who get the gift trees loved the idea!"

    Gift tree species are white spruce, Colorado pine, white pine, red pine and white cedar and the seedlings range in size from 10-25cm.

    There is a minimum of 25 trees per order. Gift trees are also provided for other occasions such as funerals, life celebrations and Earth Day, as fundraisers and for corporate giveaways.

    Bareroot seedlings

    Bareroot seedlings are the most economical planting stock for large planting projects. They are the best performers in open field plantings where competition is high. Bareroot seedlings are generally only available first thing in the spring after frost has left the ground, when handling and planting stresses are minimal.


    Oversized Value-Added stock are larger bareroot hardwood and conifer plants for those clients requiring a larger tree. These plants are typically used by landscapers or landowners wanting a more established planting site, and are also be used by nurseries to establish their own potted products or lined out to grow on to a caliper tree.

    Potted trees

    Potted stock are plants that have been grown in a one gallon to 10 gallon pot for a minimum of three months in our nursery. The plants used are from our own nursery bareroot production. Potted stock can be planted throughout the growing season from spring to fall. The Nursery is no longer operating as a retail outlet. Potted stock can now be pre-ordered online. There is a minimum purchase of 10 pots, however they can be of different species.

    Nature trails

    The Ferguson Forest Centre aslo has hiking trails during their season for anyone who likes to be at one with nature.

    Orders and prices are available on their website at or you can call the nursery at (613) 258-0110 for more information.

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