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Variety's key to HC nursery operators

HAGER CITY--With Reuvers Woodland Nursery, Bryan and Cindy Reuvers have achieved variety in their lives and intend to offer variety to their customers.

"You're kind of limited in what you can get at a Wal-Mart or a Menards," Reuvers said Thursday about tree and shrub stock commonly available to consumers.

In contrast, the nursery northwest of Hager City offers many kinds of deciduous trees, shrubs and perennials. Thirty different types of evergreens and deciduous trees are on hand, along with 40-to-50 types of shrubs. Most of the stock is grown in containers for a fair amount of time before sale, as long as five-to-six seasons, he said.

"I'm more of a grower, not so much a retailer," he said, noting three container fields holding around 7,500 plants exist on the irrigated property in the Town of Trenton.

The coming season marks the third year the couple has grown to sell, Reuvers said. Both are 18-year veterans of Smead Manufacturing in Hastings, Minn., where he's in corporate total productive maintenance and she's a benefits associate.

But he comes from an 87-acre hobby farm in Faribault, Minn., and the nursery business enables them to diversify their interests.

"I grew up on a dairy farm," he said. "I like to work in the dirt."

His wife drew him to this area 10 years ago, as she's an Ellsworth native, he said. They originally rented property next door, then built their present home on 30 acres plus an outbuilding that's since been transformed into the nursery's office.

The operation has expanded to clay pottery, bird baths, even pumpkins, around 1,500 of which Reuvers hopes to plant this year. Trees and shrubs are the mainstays, however, and that stock is being enlarged. Approximately 12 acres of land are being taken out of the Conservation Reserve Program and, because "farming's not the answer," more of the greenery will go in.

"We'll plant right in the field," he said of bigger trees to meet a demand for "instant shade."

He's had education in the Master Gardener program as well as other related training, including landscape design, in River Falls and the Twin Cities, he said. A close friend operates a nursery in Northern Minnesota.

"It's a very helpful industry," he said.

Customers commonly ask why their trees aren't growing, he said. The trees may be root-bound, meaning the roots aren't spread out enough. His advice is to try root pruning, though sometimes nothing can be done.

Knowing the right time to plant is also important, he said. Spring and fall are recommended for stock delivered in bound burlap, yet planting can be done year-round. Where to plant depends on the tree or shrub.

"It's possible to have the wrong-size shrub for the wrong location," he said, illustrating by referring to greenery that will grow to eight feet tall being put in front of a picture window.

In choosing a tree or shrub, Reuvers advises thinking about low-maintenance, the cost of the item and whether it will serve a purpose such as screening. Every plant has its own particular quality, he said.

The prime season for their business runs from April through October, the couple said. They invite the public to call 792-2858 for an appointment to visit their country site, walk around and appreciate its scenic beauty (he enjoys hunting and golfing in the vicinity) while checking out the stock.

They credited her parents, David and Bev Greeley, an uncle, Dennis Finstad, and a sister-in-law, Marcia Greeley, for helping them develop the nursery. Their immediate family includes a son, Zach, age eight, and a daughter, Aly, five.