State of the Nursery Industry

While exhibiting at New England Grows and MANTS, I spoke with many individuals across all facets of our industry.  These conversations compelled me to share what I heard, and have also seen for myself, about the state of our industry today.  From these talks, I know many of you are aware, too,  that there is a tree shortage going on.  However, even though 2.5” and 3” trees are almost non-existent, I am receiving more quotes for larger jobs than in previous years.  There will need to be a generous amount of flexibility with these because there will not be enough of certain trees to supply demand.  I have also seen prices creeping up.  This is no surprise since basic economics tells us when supply is low and demand is high, prices increase.  2017 will be an interesting year.  I believe relationships at all levels and a positive outlook will be critical factors for success.  Since our entire industry is affected by this, not just one company or one geographic area, we all need to pull together, think outside the box and work cohesively to get our jobs done.  I personally feel 2018 will show signs of inventory coming back.  There will be some tight spots but, as a whole, I think the pain will ease and start the road to recovery.  The big question will then be, “What did I learn from this struggle?”

In addition to the recent trade shows, I also attended the mid-Atlantic Short Course in Virginia Beach 2 weeks ago.  It was an excellent conference with relevant courses.    Attendance was high and the classes were full of positive information.  For me, the biggest take away was that Abby Farms is right on track with our mission of sustainability.  The majority of the conference was in one way or another tied to the practice of being sustainable.  A recent survey revealed the top 3 characteristics that millennials were looking for in companies with which they do business.  Whether landscape and maintenance, food scape, storm water management or Permaculture, the common thread was that they wanted to do business with a company that practices sustainability.   There is a large movement toward this and rightfully so.

All of this exposure around the industry over the last 2 months has me believing 2017 will be tough.  But, overall, our industry is healthy and thriving; especially with the struggles we had several years back.  It is refreshing to see the comeback!

Abby Farms interviewed at MANTS 2017


Mid Atlantic Nursery Trade Show, MANTS, was held last week with an attendance of over 11,000 people.  It continues to rank as the top horticulture show in the industry for the nursery and tree farmers.  Abby Farms was there in full force with every member of our team spending time in the booth meeting and greeting our current customers along with meeting potential new customers.

The show highlighted a lot of our customers’ concerns about the availability of mainly 2.5”-3” trees.  So we continued to encourage our current customers to get the early order program that we offer turned in quickly.

I was caught off guard by the camera crew at MANTS when they wanted to film me and ask what sustainable horticulture was.  If you know me, I am a somewhat reserved person, so a non-prepared- for video segment seemed to go well after the loss of blood in my face.  In the short taped version, we farm in a different manner by using natural inputs vs. chemical inputs.  We feed the soil and let the soil feed the plants.  The question and answer session could and should have been much longer, but with a time limit, the segment gave a quick overview.  We receive the same question several times from curious potential new customers.  What is Abby Farms?  It’s difficult to pin point; we are a combination of carbon farming, sustainable, organic and permaculture.  We include the following in our program:

  1. OMRI certified or natural inputs
  2. Natural nitrogen fix in the field “cover crops”
  3. Encourage nature to take the lead
  4. Predatory insect establishments
  5. Wild flower nesting stations
  6. Food grade products when possible for insect control
  7. Carbon farming with organic compounds to fortify the soil and increase organic matter
  8. Balance the cation exchange capacity
  9. Rigid testing of leaf tissue to see the energy level of the plant
  10. Horticultural sustainable habits through  resource management

When we add all this up, we’re a hybrid of all the above, a sustainable permaculture with natural inputs which include total site management that works with nature.

Check Out Our Package!

Abby Farms is baring it all to show our commitment to helping our customers succeed.

We are now offering lower pricing on some cornerstone items to help you sell a solid foundation package to your customers.

Crimson pygmy barberry, Needlepoint holly, Blue Pacific juniper, Heavenly bamboo, and glossy abelia make up this bulging 3gal deal.

It’s okay to stare at this list of tried and true beauties so go ahead…take another peak and see how you can fit these into your designs to take advantage of this big deal.

If you currently use these plants regularly then go ahead and crack a smile while you count the savings in your bank account.

How big is it?

Contact our sales rep Doug Miller , 240-388-0700 for a full access look at this enormous deal and you’ll see the rumors are true Abby Farms has the best package in town

We have what it takes to be your only plant material supplier


At Abby Farms we are proud to say “we have what it takes” to be your sole supplier of plant material.

Our staff consists of growers, logistics specialists, plant nutritionists, and sales experts. It is our staff that gives us what it takes to support our customers. Our unique blend of staff, with varying backgrounds of expertise is what sets us apart from being just another nursery.

The staff at Abby Farms has the drive, dedication, and desire that ultimately transfers over as quality to all facets of our nursery operation. It is our desire that fuels our growers and plant nutritionists to cultivate the highest quality plant material, it’s the dedication of our logistics specialists to keeping things organized and professional, and it is the drive of our sales experts to present our material to our customers in a honest, friendly and professional manner. Any nursery that tells you growing plants is their main objective, does not have what it takes. The main objective of a successful reputable nursery should always be to grow and enhance customer relations first and grow plants second. That does not mean growing second rate plants rather it means growing first rate customer relations first and growing first rate plants second.

At Abby Farms, we want to know our customers so well that when they call to place an order, they can feel secure in knowing they will get the same consistent quality plant material delivered to them as if they went to the nursery and tagged it themselves.  Knowing our customers to this degree helps establish what material they are looking for and what we should be growing to offer them in order to remove the burden of calling multiple vendors to find material for one job, paying more freight than necessary, and all the while hoping that the quality all matches up. It is always easier to help someone when you care enough to know what they need.

Yes growing over 300,000 shrubs, 120,000 perennials and grasses, and over 400 acres of B&B trees qualifies us as a nursery but what solidifies us as a great nursery is our dedication and commitment to our customers with a one on one basis. We strongly disagree with the “cookie cutter” “one size fits all” approach so many nurseries employ as “customer service”. To us customer service is not handling complaints or fixing problems, it is knowing our customer’s needs so well that there are no problems to solve in the first place.

In closing we at Abby Farms want to say thank you to our customers and want you to know we are here to support you in order to help your business grow as you help ours grow. Together we can be successful in achieving our goals. Our staff is always available to help out, just give us a call.

Have your cake and eat it too?

Are you tired of being told you can’t have your cake and eat it too?  Here at Abby Farms not only will you get to eat your cake we will even give you ice cream to go with it!

When other vendors are blowing out the candles on their B&B harvesting and sales with summer looming, Abby Farms is still serving the main course.

By holding our trees in above ground mulch beds with heat busting drip irrigation we are able to provide you with our high quality sustainably grown trees year round.  If that’s not enough to get the confetti flying  we also have over 10,000 container trees of over 20 varieties.  Still not enough for ya? How about 150,000 shrubs and 84,000 perennials with a side of 6,000 grasses. Now that’s a` la mode!

We have 3 of our own tractor trailers delivery daily along with our fleet of stake body trucks so you can be sure you will be served no matter how big or small of a slice you want.

So don’t let other vendors leave you blindfolded taking swings at that magical piñata of availability, just give our sales rep Doug Miller a call 240-388-0700 or send him an email for our current availability and let him know what you want on your plate.

Also take a look at our facebook page to see pictures of our mulch beds and our containerized material.

Our Grass is Legal


Here at Abby Farms we have expanded our grass lineup in response to customer suggestions. Now you can get all of the plant material you need for your job without having to go to the trouble of finding multiple dealers.

Not only is our grass legal but it is also sustainably grown , so you can be sure no matter how you use it your customers will be highly satisfied knowing it contains no toxic chemicals. Our sustainably grown grass has a higher survival rate in the landscape because its growing buzz wasn’t harshened by being shot up with toxic chemicals and other adulterants typically used by traditional growers.

We are offering our grass in two sought after sizes, a one gallon and the big bold yet modestly priced two gallon. This size combination will allow our customers to simply accent a planting with a stately one gallon or put their grass right out in the spotlight with a high impact two gallon.

Please if you need help with your grass use give our friendly sales rep Doug Miller a call 240-388-0700 or drop him an email and he can provide you with a list of our current availability and get you the help you need fast.

Don’t let your next job go up in smoke because you wasted all your time coordinating material deliveries and pickups from multiple dealers. Abby Farms will be your go to dealer for all the plant material you need and our high quality & customer service will be sure to keep you coming back to get your fix.

Expanded Perennial Offerings for Spring 2016


Here at Abby Farms we are perennially working to provide our customers with the best selection of plant material in the Mid-Atlantic region.

That is why this year we have expanded our perennial offerings for 2016. We have added several varieties we have not offered before and also increased our production numbers of the tried and true staples our customers depend on.  Our newly expanded perennial lineup will allow more of our customers to source all their plant material needs for their entire job from one source, eliminating the headaches of multiple deliveries to jobsites or the time consuming multiple nursery stops to gather all of your plant material.

In addition to bulking up our production numbers and expanding our variety we have also refined our pricing for 2016 to be very competitive in the perennial arena. Give our sales rep Doug Miller a call 240-388-0700 or send him an email for more information about current availability and pricing.

Some of the new perennials Abby Farms will be growing for 2016 include black scallop ajuga which has been a long time staple for those shady areas. Also new on our list will be pink lightning ajuga. Pink lightning features very nicely variegated foliage and bright pink flowers on small spikes. This plant is hardy and brightens up those shady areas needing a vibrant ground cover that’s not boring.

We have also added Marshalls Delight bee balm. With its nice pink flowers and resistance to powdery mildew and rust, this perennial is a great grower and dependably hardy.

Husker red digitalis has been very popular and asked for often so this year we are pleased to be growing this beardtongue variety. With nice bright white flowers and dark foliage this plant is a real head turner.

We at Abby Farms are committed to growing sustainably and as a result our plants are healthier and survive better once planted in the landscape when compared to plants grown the old fashioned or “traditional” way. Give our perennials a chance to enhance your next job and you wont be disappointed.

Abby Farms Holding Yards – Designed in our Customer’s Best Interest

We are in the process of digging our B&B trees for 2016 sales. We have several thousand pre booked for spring and the rest is for general availability. Here at Abby Farms we do things just a little different than some other farms. My experience is that most farms dig trees and hold them above ground for spring and early summer sales. We are digging approximately 28,000 to 30,000 trees. Once they are dug we move them to our massive mulch beds where we dig holes in the mulch and set the root ball in just like when you plant the tree. This helps protect the root ball from extreme conditions, heat or cold. We put a jacket around the root ball made of a material like a weed barrier. This stops the tree from rooting into the mulch. We then run drip irrigation lines over the root balls. This system allows us to hold our trees throughout the year which gives our customers a continuous supply of trees. They don’t have to switch to containers or another farm mid-season or worse yet mid job. When the trees are placed in the mulch beds they are put in rows just like in the field. If our customer would like to tag their own trees or bring an architect out, we do not have to run all over looking for trees. It is just like tagging in the field.

This system requires more work on our part, but we feel the convenience to our customer makes it worth doing. We also believe it is much better for the trees to have their roots protected. With a more consistent temperature in the root zone we regenerate our roots in the winter and our customer gets a hardened off tree. This will reduce mortality on the job which reduces warranty work and will allow our customer to make more money. It is also better for the canopy to have space when they flush in the spring rather than having them ball to ball in a yard with an impulse sprinkler on them trying to keep them watered.

We would love to have you come out and see our operation for yourself, and see the advantages of buying our chemical free trees that are maintained and protected by the best system possible. Please call Doug Miller to schedule a tour.

Doug Miller
240 388 0700

January 2016 Farm News

Sustainable horticulture

Sustainability can be measured in many ways.  Currently we discuss our ability to manipulate plants to make them undesirable to attacks from insects or diseases, but we seldom discuss some of the other benefits of sustainable horticulture.  As we all know, meteorologists measure drought index levels throughout the United States. The west (California) has been in a high or extreme drought for many years.  Farmers and states have been fighting over who owns the water.  Atlanta, Georgia was in extreme drought conditions 3 or 4 years ago.  RFD-TV weekly monitors crop conditions and projects bushels per acre in the central plains.  Some states are using recycled water that has been filtered and chlorinated and deemed safe to drink, sending it back into our homes.  Sustainable horticulture is the answer.

Sustainable horticulture saves water.  In fact, every year for the last 4, Abby Farms had reduced our water consumption.  It’s a fact that microbial rich soil with a higher root density rate requires less water for growth.  When you farm soils that have not been saturated with soluble salt fertilizer that kill the microbes, the soil digestive system functions at a higher capacity, thus reducing the need for water.  Organic matter turned into humus retains moisture.  Larger roots and more hair roots also retain moisture.

I met a tree farmer several years ago who was watering crape myrtles for four hours a day in July.  He told me that he could not get enough water on them to keep them from wilting causing the boss to drive by and yell at him.  The ground was flooded, there was standing water in the field and still the crapes were wilting.  What he did not realize was that the soluble salt /sodium level in his field resulting from extensive fertilizer applications killed all the microbes and his roots were basically sitting in a high salinity soil from using cheap fertilizer that had components such as potassium chloride or muriate of potash.  Potassium is a needed element that holds on to water but you should use the correct type.   Creating a stable environment for microbes to feed, live, grow and play is essential for a high-fueled soil.  Feed the microbes and save water.

December 2015 Farm News

December is always bittersweet.  We say goodbye to many of our seasonal workers, but know that we will see them again next year.  While many people in the landscape industry look at winter as a time to slow down, Abby Farms remains consistently busy.

Our container crews have been busily covering nearly 200 hoop houses, including 12 new houses.  Containers plants are consolidated into the hoop houses before they are enclosed. Placing our container plants in hoop houses acts like a mulch bed.  It protects them from the elements, insures excellent survival, and gives us faster flushing plants in the spring.

Field production crews are hard at work digging trees to meet the industry’s demands.  Fields are rarely open for a week before the nutrient management team prepares the field for planting, production team plants the new trees, and a cover crop is planted.

With so many high quality trees, shrubs, and perennials being grown at Abby Farms, take advantage of our early ordering program.  Our product selection team is already setting aside plants pre-sold for the spring planting season.  Contact Doug Miller for more information on this program at or 301-782-9077.  Even better, contact Doug and stop by for a tour.

The nutrient management team is busily scouting fields looking for overwintering pests, preparing fields, taking soil samples, and applying micronutrient applications where needed.  Field reports are more thoroughly examined with an eye towards prevention.  With our goal to be sustainable, pest prevention and increasing plant health are our top priorities.

Our motto of “Pioneering Sustainable Horticulture” has caught the eye of several media outlets.  Look for us in an upcoming issue of American Farm.