For 70 years, J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co. has been "Growing New Ideas." As originators of the Red Sunset® Maple and introducer or co-introducer of more than 50 other patented or trademarked cultivars, our company is known as a premier source of up-to-date deciduous tree cultivars and new introductions. More than 500 varieties and cultivars of deciduous trees are carefully grown on rich Willamette Valley soils in the heart of Oregon, "The Nursery State."
A large percentage of our deciduous trees are harvested bare root in the winter while dormant and shipped in refrigerated trucks to nurseries throughout the U.S. and Canada, where they are replanted and grown to larger sizes for landscape installation. Others are established in containers for year-round sales, and sold to wholesale nurseries, garden centers and landscape firms throughout the West. A select line of grafted conifers and more than 50 varieties of hardy deciduous shrubs complement our product line.
Requirements for ordering
Due to the nature of our business, a is required. Our sales are limited to the landscape and nursery trades and to companies with valid state nursery dealer licenses. Those who meet this requirement are invited to contact us via telephone or e-mail for a copy of our current wholesale price catalog and stock availability. Orders may be placed with the sales representative in your area, or by calling our Customer Service Representatives in Oregon. Visa® and MasterCard® are accepted. Payment in advance of shipment is required until credit is established. Additional terms of business transactions and shipping information are included in our catalogs.
All others are invited to enjoy our site and learn about our nursery and the trees we grow. Because we are not staffed to accommodate retail requests, we urge you to consult your favorite garden center professional for local availability of our plant materials. Our trees are sold in every state and Canadian province and can often be special ordered if your nursery does not presently carry our stock.
Business and family grow up together
For 70 years,the Schmidt family has been growing beautiful trees and "growing new ideas." We’re very proud of the business that took root soon after Frank and Evelyn Schmidt married in 1946 and set out to raise a family and establish a nursery of their own.
We share our family history and business history with you because they are intertwined, and it helps to show you where we’re going by sharing where we’ve been. Although our company has grown into one of the country’s largest producers of shade and ornamental trees, it is still very much a family business governed by family goals and values.
Newlyweds Frank and Evelyn Schmidt planted their first trees in 1946 on 10 acres west of Troutdale, Oregon. The rich alluvial soils that sloped gently northward toward the Columbia River were ideal for growing nursery stock,
The post-war building boom was on, and there was a great demand for trees in cities, suburbs, industrial parks and public places. Frank saw the need for trees of consistent quality, form and survivability, grown from selected, superior parent stock. He selected a number of superior clones and was always on the lookout for trees that grew well in the nursery and performed well in the landscape. Frank soon carved a niche for himself by perfecting the mass production of bare root shade and flowering trees produced from budded cultivars. From the start, it was important to Frank to produce the best quality trees possible and sell them at a reasonable price.
The nursery soon outgrew the original 10 acres, and more land was purchased near Gresham, Boring and Canby. The purchase of Milton Nursery in 1967 added a 90-year tradition of excellence. The fine old nursery located near Pendleton in Eastern Oregon was one of the early sources of grafted fruit trees in the West.
Headquarters was moved to its present location at Hood Acres in 1973, Additional acreage was purchased to bring the company's land base to about 3,000 acres of Oregon's finest soils. This ample acreage allows for crop rotation cycles, fallowing and cover cropping - good farming practices which improve soil tilth and reduce weed and soil pathogens - thus reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides.
Ideal growing conditions
Microclimates and soils unique to each of our six farm units enable us to choose the best growing conditions for each variety of tree. Heat loving cultivars are grown east of the Cascades at Milton while maples, beeches and conifers love the cooler climate of the Boring area that is influenced by the Columbia River Gorge. Crabapples and cherries flourish in the milder climate of the mid Willamette Valley. All farms are blessed with abundant, fresh and clean water. Trees are irrigated on a regular schedule throughout the growing season, one of the many reasons why we are able to deliver consistent quality year after year.
For the first 40 years, the nursery was primarily known as a producer of superior bare root trees. In 1984, J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co. pioneered the technique of containerizing bare root trees in order to extend the selling season. Containerized trees answer the consumer demand for plant materials that are easy to handle and install, and with excellent survivability. Today our containerized tree line is accepted throughout the West.
A versatile beauty
A discussion of the history of J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co. wouldn't be complete without mention of Red Sunset® Maple, a hardy, beautiful, and adaptable red maple that put our nursery on the map. Frank selected it and observed it for a number of years before introducing it to the trade in 1966. Since being named the "Number One Shade Tree" in Ohio Shade Tree Trials, it has become the top selling red maple in the country.
Gresham's Red Sunset Park may well be the only city park in the country to be named after a shade tree cultivar. Urban growth in Gresham prompted the sale of one of the company's nursery sites, and land for the park was donated when the property was developed. You'll notice plenty of Red Sunset® Maples on the site, a popular gathering spot for local residents.
Trees for the future
Over the years, J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co. has been responsible for approximately 53 tree introductions and joint introductions. Some were selected or hybridized at the nursery including Big Cis® and Mt. St. Helens® Plum. Skyrocket® Oak and Forest Green® Oak, Golden Raindrops® Crabapple, Queen Elizabeth™, Easy Street™, Parkway® and Rocky Mountain Glow® Maple. Pacific Sunset® Maple and Norwegian Sunset® Maples are among others that originated here.
Research, testing and evaluation of new plant materials is an ongoing project. The process of developing and testing of new cultivars, may take 10 to 15 years before a new tree is released to the trade.
A special challenge is to develop trees for urban sites that can thrive despite soil compaction, air pollution, insect attack and intense heat. We cooperate closely with the U. S. National Arboretum, the Landscape Plant Development Center and other universities and arboreta in the testing and introduction of improved cultivars. Our experimental blocks have hundreds of promising plant materials on trial for possible future introduction.
Growing new ideas
A constant challenge in our company is to grow better trees. The Schmidt motto, "We're Growing New Ideas," is apparent throughout the nursery, where some real Rube Goldberg contraptions make work easier and the trees grow better.
In 1965, we changed to wider row spacing than was customary in the industry. Giving trees more room to grow was our first step in developing consistent quality trees with uniform branch structure and well balanced canopies. Soon after, we began experimenting with topping young trees and taping up a new leader in order to encourage side branching and to establish a better canopy structure.
Perhaps the innovation that has had the biggest impact on the shade tree industry is the development of the Grow-Straight® Stake. Prior to its invention, a crook at the bud union referred to as "dogleg" was a problem in shade and fruit tree production. A simple metal stake was developed to guide the bud’s growth upward as it emerged from the graft union, and the Grow-Straight® Plant Growth Control Stake was born. We patented the device, told the nursery world that doglegs belong on dogs, and began manufacturing Grow-Straight® Stakes for sale in 1975.
Founded in 1986 to mark the 40th Anniversary of the company, the J. Frank Schmidt Family Charitable Foundation has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to horticultural research through the Horticultural Research Institute and private grants. In addition to funds earmarked for horticultural research, thousands of dollars are donated each year to local hospitals, charities, youth organizations, medical research and other non-profit organizations.
History in the making
Today, J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co. is one of the country's leading suppliers and introducers of superior trees, but it is still very much a family operation. Though the Schmidt nursery "family" now includes a dedicated management and production staff, Frank's founding principles remain the same; to raise the best trees possible and sell them at a fair price. A willingness to try new ideas, and the ability to listen to customers and respond to their needs continues to be at the heart of the business.
Our company is proud of the beautiful trees we grow. Our pride is apparent at every farm, with every employee working to grow the finest trees that can be grown. Today, the history of our next 50 years being made, because we never stop trying to grow better trees than we've ever grown before.