Meet The Team
Smiddycroft has existed since 1993 and although it has changed it has remained the same; a family-owned place where plants are grown and offered to the public at reasonable prices with all the free advice you need to help you in your own gardens to be successful. In the beginning, we grew a variety of plants: perennials, hardy roses, Japanese Maples, shrubs, ferns and others but over time it evolved into hostas. in recent years we have begun growing garlic and lavender in raised beds. We also grow disease-resistant apples.
We have been hard at work trying to revitalize the nursery, but, as we are getting on in years the process has been slower than expected; nonetheless we hope to have some opening hours sometime in the future. For now, contact us if you'd like to visit. We will have some plant material available on a cement pad beside our driveway.
It’s a long story of neglect and resurrection so here goes. In 1993 I opened a nursery, Smiddycroft Perennials, the name suggested by my grandmother in Scotland, Hetty Smith. She even suggested the double ‘d’s’ instead of ‘t’s. I could digress into linguistic English development but I’ll spare you that for now.
Over the next 17 years we grew and sold to the public, from my parents’ farm, just outside Kincardine, a good selection of perennial plants, then not available at garden centres or box stores. At the same time we acquired more and more hosta varieties as they became available in the trade.
In 2008 Sally and I bought our own farm further east on the same road (Southline Ave) with the intention of moving the nursery there in the future. Very sadly, my mother became Ill the next year and passed away in 2010. My father and I began taking down hoop houses and rebuilding them at our new location and then hurriedly and haphazardly moving all the plants and randomly setting them in their new homes, with the intent of organizing them later. Unfortunately, my father passed away soon after in 2011 and I lost interest in the nursery (I’m only now recognizing that this was an outcome of grieving). Over the next 9 years the nursery was neglected except that we did put the shade fabric on the hoop houses and we did water the hostas (but not the other stock that lay outside).
In 2018, Sally decided that she was going to organize the hostas, an impossible task I assured her. Most of the plants had been randomly placed and it looked like a baffling Rubic’s Cube. Where to begin? Well, she picked up a hosta and went looking for another that looked the same and placed them together; and then she did it again, and again. And then she’d bring me a plant and ask if I could read the tag as the ink had faded. We’d squint and hold the tag at different angles to aid in the deciphering and even discovered that shining the light from a cell phone flashlight onto the tag helped a lot. Eventually the task was completed and I was dumbfounded but most thankful.
Still though, we didn’t really do much more until the pandemic struck in 2020.
We were in South Carolina when Prime Minister Trudeau asked Canadians to come home so we cut our trip 5 weeks short and did as we were asked. Fortunately it was quite mild that March and since we were stuck here we spent our days working outside. You see where this is headed, right? Well, two things happened that set things in a new direction. Firstly, an old addition on the front of our Quonset building was collapsing so we decided to have it taken down, for safety reasons. After it was gone we made the decision to replace it and hired Jantzi Carpentry and they erected a structure that we call the Garden Shed (very original) by the end of March. That part of the property had been an eyesore and we avoided it but now with the new building it became a place we loved. The next ‘catalyst to change’ was delivered by a Fedex delivery truck in early April. When it arrived Sally took the parcel and scurried it away. I asked what it was but she said it was something personal. The next day I walked into the spare bedroom and there was the package, opened and labelled’heritage vegetable seed collection’. I was mildly angry when I saw this and asked her what was she doing. Now, getting angry over vegetable seeds does seem unreasonable but we had tried vegetable gardening some years back on our hard (actually cement-like) clay soil and we agreed to discontinue this ‘back-breaking’ insanity and plant an orchard where the vegetable garden was located. So my question wasn’t really that out of line, I didn’t think.
Sally had this idea of creating a new vegetable garden in a fenced-in area right beside the Quonset building and the new Garden Building. We had thought about creating a garden there 10 years earlier and covered the entire area with clear plastic, weighted down with 12’ cedar logs. Over those years shrubs, grasses and small trees were growing through the plastic; it was a fool-hardy idea to think this could be done. Where to begin? Despite my protest she put on her overalls and away she went. After an hour or so stewing inside the house I decided I better go and see if I could help. There she was, covered in mud, trying to lift the plastic that was clinging to a dogwood shrub!
Over the next few hours we made some progress and I started coming around to the idea of a new vegetable garden and said that I had an idea; if we’re going to do this why don’t we build raised beds and bring in topsoil so we don’t have to garden in clay soil again. We used the cedar logs that were there to make perimeter beds for perennials and we built our own raised beds from cedar that we purchased from a neighbouring sawmill.
We eventually got the heritage vegetable seeds planted before the end of May.
What does any of this have to do with hostas? Well, this was a start, a new beginning . The goal now was to resurrect the nursery. It’s going to take a while but we’ve made a start and are working towards a goal; that gives me a purpose again. I think I needed that. It also helps kindle some good memories. A few weeks ago I was repotting a hosta and when I took it out of the pot I found a tag with my father’s unmistakable hand writing on it! Good memory, and now I have it mounted above my work bench. Another project Sally proposed in 2020 was organizing all the hostas alphabetically. Impossible I said but guess what? While I sat at the side of a wheelbarrow repotting and dividing plants Sally was shuttling hostas around and within a few weeks they were arranged alphabetically. Go figure. The nursery won’t be open to the public for a while yet but if anyone is interested in having a look, contact me and we can set something up.