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State Forest Nursery: A Secret No Longer

By Karen Bennett, Cooperative Extension Forest Resources Specialist
February 6, 2008

This spring about 1,000 New Hampshire landowners will slice the newly-defrosted ground to create thousands of welcoming holes for tree and shrub seedlings bought from the State Forest Nursery. Howie Lewis, nursery forester, calls his nearly 40-acre nursery one of New Hampshire's best- kept secrets. Lewis says the nursery produces a unique product.

"We provide something nobody else does, tree and shrub seedlings native to New Hampshire, with seeds picked from specimens grown right here in the state,” Lewis says. “When you buy from the state forest nursery, you know the plant is suited to grow here."

A century-old enterprise
In operation in Boscawen since 1910, the nursery grows more than 50 species of trees and shrubs for reforestation, Christmas trees, and wildlife, and sells them at affordable prices. Seedlings, sold on a first come-first served basis, include conifers such as white, red and Scotch pine, Norway, blue, red, and white spruce, concolor, balsam, Fraser and Douglas fir, and hemlock.

The nursery offers many deciduous species as well, including arrow-wood, crabapple, fragrant sumac, grapes, highbush cranberry, dogwood, rose, nannyberry, beach plum, elderberry, winterberry holly, bayberry, hazelnut, red oak, cedar, sugar maple and white ash.

Special deals
Special "packages," each containing an assortment of 25 shrubs and/or trees, include a Christmas tree sampler, as well as wildlife-and-songbird, wetlands, native species, and winter survival packages.

"This is a very popular program," says Hillsborough County Cooperative Extension forester Jon Nute. "The seedlings are usually 2-to-4 years old, up to 24 inches tall, including the roots, and you can easily hold about a dozen in one hand."

"Some first-time buyers come expecting to pick up large potted landscape-type shrubs and are a little shocked when you hand them a bundle of 50 pine seedlings that can easily fit into a shopping bag," says Nute. "However, these small seedlings are hardy and easy to plant and just great to use in reforestation projects, windbreaks, and Christmas tree plantations."

Ready to order?
Individuals can order seedlings from Jan.1 through March 30 each year in quantities of 10, 25 or 100 per bundle, with costs ranging from $.25 cents to $1.00 per seedling, with the seedlings distributed for planting at the end of April.

"When you're in the nursery business, spring starts a different time each year," says Lewis, "So we ship to a county pickup point in late April or early May, whenever the seedlings can be lifted from the ground. We work throughout the year getting ready for the spring shipment and hope we have many new customers this year."

Customers receive a card in the mail announcing the pick-up dates.

To order online go to http://www.dred.state.nh.us/nhnursery/. For a catalogue contact the N.H. State Nursery, N.H. Division of Forests and Lands, P.O. Box 1856, Concord, NH 03302-1856, or call 603-271-3456.

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