Petree Nursery: making Taos more beautiful for 30 years

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A feeling of possibility pervades the greenhouses at Petree Nursery. While it is cold outside, the greenhouses are warm and humid. In the front greenhouse, where the garden supplies are found, fountains and chimes add to the tranquil atmosphere. For the holiday season, Petree has wreaths, garlands, as well as paper white and amaryllis bulbs.

There are vibrant houseplants that can beautify your home now and you can take a peek at starts of flowers that will be ready to be planted this summer in your garden. Raspberry-colored butterfly bushes, along with small hollyhock and lupine plants line the tables in one of the greenhouses and hanging baskets are being nurtured so that they will be blooming and beautiful before spring comes. The plants will go through a dormant phase, so that the chances of them blooming the first year are greater.

Winter and planning ahead

Sylvia Petree says “We love winter. We have tropical houseplants for adding green and color to your house during the winter months, plus potting soil, amendments and food, so that you can take your gardening indoors for the winter. The off-season a time is a great time for researching what you will plant in your garden and dreaming about summer.”

Looking through the greenhouse, there are plenty of materials to help build your garden vision. In addition to flower, vegetable and herb starts, Petree has many types of soil, trees and bushes, shrubs, wrought iron trellises and ceramic pots.

“Our main focus is growing fine perennials and annuals, vegetables and herbs and soft fruits like raspberry and strawberry, along with shrubs and trees. We grow all year round and right now, we are getting ready for the next growing season,” says Petree. She explains that because they grow plants here, when you put them in your garden, the plants are already acclimated to our climate and altitude.

One Petree specialty is hanging baskets grown from cuttings. Most of the hanging baskets that you see are grown from seeds, says Petree. After the peak of summer, these plants start to focus their energy on producing seeds. Not so for hanging baskets grown from cuttings. These plants do not produce seeds, so they can use their energy to bloom and stay colorful all summer long. In one of the many supplier catalogs she receives, Petree points to varieties of flowers that are not available in baskets grown from seeds, including exotic-patterned pink and purple petunias with heart and star shapes. Petree will grow more than 2,000 hanging baskets this year.

Contributing to the community

For 30 years, Petree Nursery has been a resource for the Taos community. Since the nursery began by offering a few trees in 1988, the business has expanded to provide a wide variety of plants and other supplies for local homeowners.

Petree credits her staff, saying that their special expertise allows them to really serve their customers with plant materials, as well as recommendations. “We are open all year round and have an educated staff that can offer advice from A-Z,” she says.

Arborist Patricia Okamoto helps customers select trees and figure out when to plant them and how to prune them. “Trees shouldn’t be planted when the ground is frozen. You can reserve trees when they are still dormant and we will make sure that they leaf out before you pick them up to plant when the ground is warmer.” Petree crews can also deliver and plant trees for you.

Ben Shriver is the greenhouse manager and Laurie Priest, a prolific local gardener, has joined the staff.  Petree says that they have a full staff of knowledgeable people who have been with Petree for years. The staff assists in selecting plants for the 10 greenhouses at Petree Nursery. “We have to account for weather and what gardeners might want for the upcoming season, plus we are dealing with a live product. It can be crazy-making, but it all works out,” says Petree. “It is going to be a great year. We have a lot of fun growing and supplying plants and educating the public.”

While some plants are popular every year, the staff is always paying attention to what is new for coming year. They study catalogs from suppliers with new perennials that have intense colors, and exotic varieties.

 “In our years in Taos, we have planted many trees. We help homeowners do their part to green up the community. It is a tremendous amount of work and life hours to build a business that provides plants to the community at affordable prices. We do that by growing large quantities of plants,” says Petree.

Petree Nursey contributes to the community in other ways, too. They have made donations to parks and other projects. In addition they offer the Petree Green Card, which provides a 10 percent discount on purchases or allows that savings to be split among a group of five nonprofits. “We are thrilled about what our customers are returning to the community,” says Petree.

Getting your hands in the dirt

If you are eager to get an early start on your garden this year, you can stop by Petree to get some advice and supplies. “The challenge is the low night time temperatures we experience in the spring. When it is 50 degrees during the day, the temperature can drop more than 20 degrees overnight. The last frost date is June 1, but we can help people get a head start with row cover and other means of extending our short growing season, so that people can get their hands in the soil a little earlier.”

Petree Nursery can help with planning for raised beds and greenhouses. They have a special mix for raised beds that has the right PH and the right amount of salt. They can advise you on how to add some peat that helps new seedling grow. There are special tricks for greenhouses, too. “They need heating in winter and a way to keep air circulating during summer.  It is all about light and heat,” says Petree.

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