North Creek Nurseries01/03/2015 12:11AM ● By Kerigan Butt
Photos and text by Lane McLaughlin
Hidden behind landscaping, just beyond a bend in the road, is North Creek Nurseries in Landenberg. This impressive wholesale propagation nursery grows starter plugs of perennials, ornamental grasses, ferns and vines, with a focus on eastern U.S. native plants.
That’s only half of the story, though. They also promote sustainable horticultural systems using their landscape plugs for use in stormwater management, soil stabilization, landscape restoration and habitat establishment.
North Creek Nurseries provide their starter plugs to retail garden centers and wholesale nurseries, which then pot and sell them, fully rooted and branched. They are also a supplier of American Beauties Native Plants kits. Purchasing these specially branded plants benefits the National Wildlife Federation’s efforts to create sustainable backyard habitats that protect wildlife. Home gardeners can purchase the plants from Gateway Garden Center in Hockessin, as well as other retail sources.
Landscape professionals choose from an extensive selection of landscape plugs that can be planted straight into the ground. These plugs have deep roots that establish quickly, have a high transplant success rate, and usually reach flowering size during their first season.
Founded in 1988 by Steve Castorani and Dale Hendricks, North Creek celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2013. Steve has been the primary owner since 2009. Presently this growing farm has 32 greenhouses and 58,800 square feet of trial, demonstration and habitat gardens on 17 acres. They also own a second, 28-acre farm in Oxford, which is the shipping facility and provides additional growing space.
Looking toward the lower back of the Landenberg property, you will see a couple of retention ponds.
“All the water flows from higher ground into the constructed wetland, where it is filtered by the plants growing there,” explained Tim McGinty, general manager of North Creek. “The water then enters the two retention ponds before leaving the property, seeping through the woods, then into a stream that leads to the Middle Branch of the White Clay Creek.
“Our staff landscape architect and ecological sales manager, Claudia West, helps other landscape architectural firms, engineering firms and municipalities design the landscaping and plants that go into their ecological systems," he added. "She’s become known nationwide for some of her projects.”
The Delaware Nursery & Landscape Association 2013 Landscape Award was recently presented to West. This honor is in recognition of excellence in the design, plant selection, and installation of an outstanding landscape. The landscape being recognized is The Hunt at Louviers, a City of Newark stormwater retrofit project focused on improving water quality.
“Over here,” Tim pointed out, “is a display garden that she designed. She has created different exposures, sun and shade trialing plants that compete with each other, both underground and above the ground. If you were here during the summer, you would see she designed the colors to go from hot to cool, right across the entire garden.”
Several other trial gardens grace the property. Before growing new varieties in their greenhouses, these plants are tested here for garden worthiness. An artificial meadow and retention pond were also created, and they have grown their own vegetables for employees, donating excess produce to the Kennett Food Cupboard.
Lauren McIlwain, North Creek’s marketing specialist, was extremely helpful by showing me around the property, gathering information, and gathering photos. General manager Tim McGinty provided a wealth of information as well. Plus, they are great hand models! Thanks to both!
If you need some landscaping help, or to purchase North Creek Nurseries’ plants, visit the sister company, Gateway Garden Center, in Hockessin, Del. Plant information, links and other resources can also be found at www.northcreeknurseries.com, www.abnativeplants.com and www.gatewaygardens.com.