Since 1957 Summer Hill Nursery, a mid-sized wholesale nursery, has been growing quality nursery stock.
We were one of the first New England nurseries to grow landscape plants in containers. Our primary customers are independent garden centers and landscapers–however, we also contract to do custom propagation for other wholesale growers and produce plants for mail order nurseries and arboreta. We offer over 1000 varieties of flowering trees, shrubs, groundcovers, broadleaf evergreens, conifers, grasses, and hardy bamboo. A large selection of native plants is also a specialty.
This site is meant to give you information about the plants we grow and also the opportunity to order from us if you are in the nursery business. Retail customers wishing to buy our plants can check the list of retail vendors that we supply in the northeast.
Summer Hill Nursery started in the fall of 1957 when Mike Johnson built a greenhouse attached to an old chicken coop on family property.
Although the nursery started as a field grown operation, Mike was one of the first nurserymen in New England to start growing landscape plants in containers in 1958.
It wasn’t long before the container business was generating more revenue, and fewer headaches, than the field operation so by 1970 all plants sold were container grown.
By the mid 70’s we decided we were as large as we wanted to be and although we’ve added a few acres of containers, we’ve stayed about the same size trying to get better rather than bigger.
In the early years, dwarf conifers and large quantities of broadleaf evergreens, especially rhododendrons and azaleas, were our principal production. As the years have passed, the demand has changed; and although we still grow these plants, we have changed our emphasis to flowering shrubs and trees, Japanese maples, and many rare and unusual varieties of plant material, including native plants.
At Summer Hill, we love a challenge so we have put a lot of effort into the production of “hard to grow” varieties that are uncommon in the trade.
Our dedication to grafting hard to find plants is an example of this. If someone says to Mike, “Have you tried growing so and so?” you can bet we’ll have some “so and so’s” on the place next year whether we can sell them or not.
Because of new varieties, we had to adapt and improve our methods of overwintering different species – (we were growing in containers before anyone used polyethylene to cover container grown plants).
We now lose very few plants during the winter. Fertilizers also had to be changed as we added many “heavy feeders” to our list. But our irrigation methods and soil mix have stayed about the same.
Landscapers tell us our sand and peat soil mix gives them far fewer losses than plants coming from lightweight mixes. This is important for garden center customers as well.
The nursery has two growing areas in North Madison – one on route 79 where we grow most of our conifers, native plants and large rhododendrons.
The main nursery is on Summer Hill Road. This is the area where the propagation facilities are as well as the office, sales, and shipping areas. Stock blocks and display gardens are also on Summer Hill Road.
While 80% of our sales are in Connecticut and Massachusetts, we do ship throughout New England and eastern New York with a few customers as far south as Philadelphia.