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Field Trip: To a Sea of Trees

October 20, 2010

This month the local garden club, of which I am a member, visited Boething Treeland Farms, a huge wholesale company about five miles south of my house on a remote, rollercoaster road that most people would refer to as the boonies.

Past the security gate, a small office sits above 360 acres of mostly trees, plus shrubs, ground covers, vines, and annuals. Although 100 greenhouses are on site, they aren’t visible among the surrounding vastness of vegetation. Looking out over the land in every direction, you immediately suck in a deep breath of ahh, hold it, and then let out an air of disbelief. Miles of rolling hills dotted with green vegetation appear to be an endless ocean of vertical waves from low surfs to colossal tides.

The company started in 1952 by John and Susan Boething on 32 rural acres in San Fernando Valley. Boething’s mission was to “enhance the quality of life through trees by supplying them to landscapers, architects, developers and other industry professionals” such as Disney World, Florida.

Eventually, Boething added shrubs, ground covers, vines, and annuals, and ultimately seven other farms throughout California. The Clements’ farm where we were visiting is the largest.

First stop was the propagation house. Although the economy has brought business down about 30 percent, Boething employees propagate 20,000 trees and plants per day. November through February, California natives are propagated. Early spring through summer, they propagate annuals and roses. Ninety percent of Boething’s products are grown from their own seeds.

Next, we piled into three vehicles and rode around the farm past waves of trees and shrubs as dusty dirt roads opened to our caravan. (I felt like a child of Moses in the parting of the Red Sea). The farm is divided into labeled sections each managed by a supervisor. One section contained enormous piles of different types of soil (large enough to quality as pyramids) used for planting.

For a small, home gardener like me it’s hard to image using so much soil. Planting thousands of cuttings and transplants, watering hundreds-of-thousands of vegetation (paying the water bill), checking all those drippers, and the brainpower behind organizing every aspect of building and maintaining a 58-year-old business is unimaginable.

Garden-hats off to John and Susan Boething, now deceased, whose passion for trees and commerce allowed them to grow, and then pass the business onto their four daughters now running the Boething Treeland Farms.

Who says you can’t make it big in the boonies.  

The area in the photo above was to the right as you enter Boething Treeland Farms. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a photo of the vast areas of trees that I rode through.

 

8 comments

  1. In California there is always the threat of forest fires. Tree farms are necessary to replace our natural resource. We are fortunate to have them close by.

    As mentioned above, the tree farms use ninety percent of their own seeds. The rest of the seeds are purchased from various sources.
    Seeds gatherers are paid a handsome sum for their hard work. For some species of trees the time frame is short. The pinecones must be picked before the animals get them or before the snow covers them. Some specie of trees are difficult to locate and are off the beaten path. Imagine climbing to the top of a huge fir tree with nothing but climbing gears and a sack to hold the cones. The seeds are removed from the cones before being sold by the pound. The price depends on the type of seeds. Supply and demand of specific species determine the rate.

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  2. I found it very interesting that you can take a cutting of new growth from a redwood tree and stick the stem in rooting hormone and grow a redwood tree. The lady in the picture up above is starting many redwood trees that way. I have three redwoods on my property and I am considering trying this myself. Redwoods are fast growers, so I may live to see them grow tall!!

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  3. There are redwood trees in the lot next to mine. Yes, they are fast growers. They are beautiful, but I don’t believe that they really belong on a regular residential lot because they easily out grow their site. They drop their “needles” all over and block out the sunlight to the adjacent lot.
    Big trees need big space all to themselves.

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  4. Luckily, we have 5 acres and lots of room for more trees, but they all need to have water going to them, so we have to think of that.

    A friend of ours in Chico has a line of redwoods on one side of his garden and they make a very nice privacy screen from his neighbors.

    Our three are planted quite a ways apart and I wish we had planted them so they grow a little into each other. I feel they do better that way and protect each other. Also, I like the way they look that way.

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  5. Like I said, big trees need big space. When they are planted in small residential lot, they intrude into the neighboring lot.
    Chico in the northwest should have plenty of rainfall and the trees should do well in your five acres.

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  6. Even though this is a little off the subject, I did want to pass this information along to Subscribers to your blog who have rose bushes. I have read a lot about roses but did not know this particular bit of information till I read it in Farmer Fred Hoffman’s piece in Saturday’s Lodi News Sentinel.

    In our area roses have trouble going into dormancy. They want to produce new leaves. His advice was to quit deadheading in October and let the rose hips grow bigger and that tells your rose plant to go into dormancy. I had just been deadheading all mine and after reading that, I have now stopped.

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  7. This is news to me. Thanks for passing along this tip.

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  8. My roses doesn’t go into dormancy. They bloom all year long. Now I know why. Glad I came back to read over some comments.

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