August 15, 2009
A record number of attendees took part in the 2009 LO Nursery Growers’ Tour on July 14.

Two busloads left the LO home office in Milton around 7:15 a.m. for a day-long run to south western Ontario that included four nurseries and a factory that manufactures and packages fertilizer. Before arriving at the first nursery, a number of attendees were picked up in Woodstock.

At Sloan’s Nursery and Christmas Trees, located in Bothwell, tour attendees were shown the method of root-pruning used by its staff. A four-generational business, Sloan’s began in 1948 and today boasts both a retail and wholesale operation, growing a large number of Christmas trees.

Next, it was on to Downham Nurseries’ Elgin Farm. Here tour members enjoyed a lunch sponsored by Agrium Advanced Technology, before heading out into the field via school bus. Downham Nurseries looks after 575 acres of mostly container-grown plant material. It sells to big box stores and independent garden centres.

By the afternoon, it was off to Heritage Country Gardens, a combination retail garden centre and nursery, just outside London.  The business describes its nursery division  as a wholesale grower that supplies the landscaping industry. The tour attendees were lead through the greenhouse operation.

Pieper Nurseries had many on the growers’ tour talking, as they climbed aboard hay bales on a lengthy wagon train that took them throughout the nursery operation in Dorchester. Operated by the husband and wife team of Christoph and Doris Pieper, the nursery began business in 1991. Today, it grows roses, shrubs, vines, grasses and many perennials.  

The final stop for the tour was in Putnam at Agrium Advanced Technology fertilizer operations. Agrium manufactures and markets fertilizers for the professional horticulture and turfgrass industry, and consumer lawn and garden markets. The growers were lead through a portion of the plant, where packaging and shipping operations were underway.

The tour returned back to the LO offices, ending the day around 8:00 p.m.

Jen Llewellyn and Keith Osborne were on the special tour sub-committee. Appreciation goes to Forterra, for supplying the breakfast, and Agrium, as well as the nurseries for welcoming the tour.

Caption: Tour attendees take a ride to view Pieper Nurseries.