Sylvan Nursery, Inc. is located on approximately 300 acres of prime land
in southeastern Massachusetts where the climate assures the best possible growing conditions.
The nursery was incorporated in January 1990, but our history began in 1966 with one
50-foot greenhouse. During the past 40 years the nursery has grown from being a
part-time hobby to a business housed in 24 greenhouses on 300 acres in six locations.
We serve over 6000 customers from all parts of New England and the Middle Atlantic states,
three-quarters of whom run landscaping firms with the remainder comprised of municipalities,
garden centers, landscape architects, and other retail sectors.
plant material and horticulture is the basis of our operation. Among our capable staff we
have fourteen Massachusetts Certified Horticulturists. The management has always
encouraged the employees to become better informed so that we can excel at serving our
customers. Trade shows, in-house sessions where information is shared and training
meetings for sales staff are routine during the less hectic winter months. We currently
employ 80 full-time employees augmented by 40 part-timers during the busy season.
We have grown
into a thriving re-wholesale yard while still being able to specialize in growing heath,
heathers, bearberry and native seaside shrubs. Our propagation crew processes over
250,000 cuttings annually in our new gutter connected greenhouse. Approximately 150,000
bare-root plants are purchased and potted annually. Half of the total stock sold is
balled and burlapped. Containers make up the rest of our stock.
continues to be a prime concern. The irrigation system is comprised of 15 wells and
5 ponds. We irrigate 60 acres daily with a combination of equipment. Six Berkeley
pumps transport water from the ponds to the growing areas in pipe graduating from 6" at entry
to ½" at the nozzles. The pumps are powered by three 454-cubic-inch and three
305-cubic-inch Chevrolet propane driven engines with each having the capacity to deliver
750 GPM at 360 feet. We water 20 acres of plant material by drip irrigation.
of our nursery production have evolved with water conservation in mind. In 1996 we
installed three catch basins to conserve water and to eliminate run-off as much as possible.
The placement and spacing of plants, using bark mulch in the B&B areas and using drip
irrigation on individual plants all help to save water. In addition, routine irrigation
procedures include hand watering when necessary, turning off the water during the hottest
time of day to cut down on evaporation losses, continually searching for leaks and operating
individual shut-offs on the nozzles to regulate flow.
For the past
five years the primary soil mix used in the containers has been superhumus, which is a
by-product produced by the lumber industry as part of their conservation program. Use of
superhumus improved the water holding capacity of our container stock while maintaining
excellent drainage. However, we are currently using several customized soil mixes that
are tailored to particular plants' needs to improve growth and to provide a better productfor
usage is very limited in the nursery. We use control release fertilizers, sometimes with
micronutrients added, and Hormodin II in our propagation program. Herbicides for weed
control include ROUND-UP, SURFLAN, ROUT and PREEN. We use CLEARY'S, DACONIL and FUNGINEX
to control fungus on heathers and on roses. We use pesticides sparingly.
In 1995 we
installed an automatic pot filling machine to speed up the potting process. Since
we now pot approximately 76,000 perennials, besides our heather and heath cuttings, this has
helped to increase efficiency by saving valuable time.
and billing is tracked by a multi-user Compaq Proliant ML 350 computer. A Dell
Poweredge SC1420 computer provides access to the internet, email services and acts as a file
server. Both systems support twenty one networked desktop computers, nine printers, and
three thermal label printers. Real World copyrighted programs handle record keeping for
orders, inventory and billing while FileMaker Pro handles delivery scheduling, plant purchase
orders and other functions. A scanner and 3 digital cameras give the Sales Department the
ability to transmit plant information electronically to customers. Recently, a new
building adjacent to the main office was erected to handle group meetings and the storage of
files and records.
direction for the nursery was taken in 1995 into cattle and hog production. At the
"Triple-S" Farm located near the
main nursery we are raising Polled Herefords and Beefalos. Hogs and chickens are also part of
the farm scene. With the exception of some purchased grain, we produce our own naturally grown
feed. The farm is authorized to sell frozen beef, beefalo and pork. You can sample
beefalo at the local restaurants.
A few years
ago the nursery purchased two large tracts of land in Dartmouth known as Island View (a photo
appeared on the cover of our 2002 catalog) and Dartmoor Farm. These properties are
located east and west of Horseneck Road. The fields are utilized in animal feed
production and in lining out nursery stock. Nursery stock production, which was once done at
the main nursery has been moved to these two new farms or to our other three farms.
plans also include modernizing our inventory procedures through bar coding and hand-held
computers. We are currently "on-line" and have been since 1997, where you can visit us on
our web site at www.sylvannursery.com.
Neil J. Van Sloun,
We have grown
over the past 40 years, but have tried to remain small enough to handle our customers as
individuals. Our intent is to keep our customer as the most important element of our business.
It is our aim to give the best possible service and product at reasonable prices.
Jim McBratney, President and General Manager