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Using the Canadian Landscape Standard for specifying nursery stock

After a trip to HortEast, our Landscape industries annual conference and trade show, I had the task of preparing a plant list for pricing with one of our Ontario nurseries. I had gathered most of the information needed for the quote including quantities, type of plant list identified by botanical name, common name and cultivar or variety, but my size column was empty.


I realized I needed to reference the Canadian Landscape Standard to identify the sizes of my intended plant material. I opened it up the Standard on my laptop and selected the section of the document dealing with plant material sizing.


First thing you should know is that every unit is in metric increments of course, but my mind still works in the old English measure. To deal with my slow conversion skill, I found a yard stick, notice not a ‘meter’ stick, and I attached a dressmaker’s tape with the cm side up so that I would have a visual reference in front of me when making my selections for size. It proofed very useful to see 30 - 40 cm. vs. 50 - 70 cm. as it helped me to image what the final shapes would look like in the garden beds upon installation.


The actual nursery spec is broken up into types of plant forms and then there are specific increments in size used as well as direction of the horizontal or vertical aspect of the plant’s measurement. See insert below.

For example, Juniperus horizontalis is a spreader, so the measurement is from roughly tip to tip of the shrub branches in a horizontal position. Conical evergreens are measured by height. Upright evergreens are also measured by height and then broken down in the ‘Standard’s’ increments for that plant form.


This required thinking back about my plant choices and their shape and form and root, etc. to establish my list. Now I know for many of you this is common sense material, but I found the process of applying the specifications as accurately as I could as possible, a very useful exercise. Many of the plants I had to look up again on Google to clarify structural detail.


Now the original source of the plant list and its choices was a result of working through nursery catalogs of what’s available, going through Adrian Bloom’s, Gardening with Conifers and a visit my sister’s garden, a past president and longtime member of the Atlantic Rhododendron and Horticulture Society to see what specimen evergreens she has growing in Halifax and what combinations have worked for her.


A screen capture of part of the nursery list is below.

I found the Canadian Landscape Standards a very useful tool for enabling me to speak the same language with our growers across the country.


Anita Jackson

2018. 12. 07

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