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Ordering

Because you don't want to find out that I'm out...

Princess Kay Flowering Plum

Princess Kay produces a lot of flowers in spring, but little to no fruit. I bring in 10 of these each year.

Norkent Apple First year here, and it produced apples. Bit small, but very tasty. We have several jars of applesauce from this tree this year. This is not common. Most apple trees will need to be in their new home for at least a year before producing fruit.


Executive summary:

We are a small operation running on narrow profit margins, and fairly small inventory. To reduce disappointment, order ahead. We start taking orders in late summer for spring delivery.

We buy trees for our own use, in quantities that give me wholesale pricing. Take advantage of my buying power. If you know what you want, and we can get it, we can probably get it for you at about 2/3 of what the garden centres charge. But you have to plan ahead.

Planning ahead

You've got your dream down to some lists. Time to make it happen.

The tree biz works with a long pipeline. One of my suppliers is a co-op that sells to Christmas tree farmers. In October of 2015 we had to order and pay for seedling trees that should arrive in May of 2017: an 18 month lead time.

Most of my fruit and ornamental trees come from a grower near Brandon Manitoba. I order in August, and supplement the order as customers make requests. By October popular trees are out of stock.

Seedlings are even more uncertain. While we place our seedling order with suppliers in October or November, availability for the following Spring often depends on nursery overruns.

What do we do? We guess a lot. Sometimes my Manitoba supplier still has what you want in February.

If you don’t find what you want, ask. Sometimes we can get it. Ask early. Give us a year, and we can find almost anything. By February, we are getting near the bottom of the barrel.

Generally we don’t bring in caliper trees. Our bigger trees are in 15 gallon pots are 1.5 inches in diameter and are 10-14 feet tall.

We will be trying to add “special order” lists at the bottom of each of the group pages. E.g. the Maples page will have inventory for what I have, and a list of what we may be able to get.

As an example, we are negotiating a custom contract that will have at least a 3 year lead time.

Dogwood plugs This is a bundle of 10 one year old dogwood seedlings. They are still fully dormant when they arrive. Within two weeks they will be covered with leaves.


Cotoneaster Bare Root shrub

These are 2 year old cotoneaster bare root seedlings. The smallest roots there can dry out in seconds on a hot windy day. Keep in a bucket of damp peat until just before you put them in the ground.


Spruce  bundle Bundle of 15 Spruce plugs. Plugs don’t dry out as fast as bare root.

How the process works:

  1. Usually we exchange a few emails ironing out the numbers of what you want. This can also take place on the phone, with a follow-up email to verify. “If it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen.”

  2. Once we’ve hammered out the numbers, we will send you a quote with an itemized list of what you asked for and for the requested deposit.

  3. Once you have paid the deposit, the quote is turned into an invoice and you receive a copy showing the amount paid and the balance due. Balance is due on pickup.

Deposits

We’ve gotten burned a couple of times by people who placed an order then didn’t show up. So now we ask new customers for money up front:
* Under $100: Pay in full. * 100 to $300: Pay the first $100 * Over $300: Pay 1/3 rounded to a convenient number.

You can pay deposits by email transfer, personal cheque, or phone us with Visa or MasterCard.

Pre-orders are essential for two groups of trees:

Seedlings & Bare Root Stock must get into the ground quickly. They are only available in May, sometimes into early June I bring in an estimate of what I can sell, and what I can use myself. If you don't pre-order and reserve seedlings you are very likely to find that they are gone to other customers, or have been transplanted to larger, more expensive containers.

Ornamental & Fruit Trees are ordered in small quantities, usually between 10 and 40. I guess what will sell. My goal is to have less than 20 percent left over to move to bigger pots at the end of the season. In 2015, I ordered 10 Autumn Spire red maples. All 10 were sold before the end of March. This year I’ve ordered 19. As of New Year’s 5 are spoken for.

Inventory

The final section is Inventory. This is my best guess as to the total of everything we have or that will arrive this season.

Seedlings aren't quite as rushed. Most years I don't even know what I can get until early January.

Your best strategy is to let me know in early fall what you are looking for. I will see if I can find it, or, in some cases, I can supply it from here.

First time customers Your order is NOT confirmed until your deposit is received. Small orders (Under $150) we ask for payment up front. Larger orders we ask for a deposit of about 1/3. We prefer payment by email transfer or cheque. But we will take Visa and MasterCard over the phone.

Availability

I don't get in all types all years. I'm moving more to "more trees of fewer species" model, where I get certain trees only every other or every third year, and carry stock over. This is ok for stuff I sell at larger sizes, but the consequence is that my selection of seedlings in any given year is smaller.

You will see notes like "Need orders for 100 to proceed" which means, "I'm not ordering this one this year, because I have enough of this one in the pipeline. But if you get 100 or you get 30 and someone else wants 70, I'll bring in a box, and hope to sell the other 80 to someone else, and failing that, pot them up." Whew.

My orders for native seedling shrubs and conifers takes place in January and February for most of them. Leaf tree seedlings are from a different supplier. I make that order in October. I can increase an order -- sometimes -- or they may all be out. Even on this time schedule, I will place an order and find out that some early bird got there first. Hence, no Kaye Grapes last year.

Ornamentals and Edibles are ordered in fall too. Again, I can get them later, but selection is smaller. You may need to substitute, or take a larger or smaller size.

Ask for what you want early. I'm already taking requests for spring of next year. If you want seedlings this year, ask today. You aren't committed until you accept a quote.

Orders for Pickup We can ship smaller stuff, but it’s less stress on the trees if you pick them up. Here are 5 customer’s orders made ready and parked in the shade until they come.

Seedlings The seedlings come to me in those large white boxes in the back ground. I unpack them into these black plastic trays. In the shade of my little spruce grove they get enough light to start to break dormancy, but they stay cool. They will keep for about 2 weeks this way.


Mustang Cherry Plum Shrub form Mustang Cherry Plum. You get both fruit and fall colour. Many trees in the plum family have good fall colour in addition to their fruit.


Shipping

Seedling trees can be shipped by bus. Shipped freight charges collect on small orders -- usually about 30 regardless of the size of box. If your order is big enough, we pay the shipping. We ship as soon as possible after our trees arrive, usually in early May. We can hold seedlings in our cold room for about 10 days if they arrive here too early and you aren't yet ready.

Potted trees aren’t economical to ship unless you are getting several pallets of them.

Larger Trees

I also bring in numbers of larger trees on speculation. These are usually 3/4" to 1.5" caliper (trunk diameter) trees in a 7-15 gallon pot. In some cases I'm just buying one or two to plant here, to satisfy my own interest. In other cases they just fit into one of my niche specialties, so I will buy 5-10.

I DO NOT sell trees larger than 1.5 to 2 inch caliper except as a special order. These would come in a #15 or #20 pot. A #20 pot is about 60 liters. Weight is 100 to 200 lbs depending on soil mix. It is a 4 wheel barrow hole.

Prices vary somewhat with species, but typically:

Think: $15/gallon or $120/inch, and you will be pretty close most of the time.


Got something to say? Email me: sfinfo@sherwoods-forests.com

Want to talk right now? Talk to me: (8 am to 9 pm only, please) 1-780-848-2548


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Sherwood's Forests is located about 75 km southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. Please refer to the map on our Contact page for directions.