Bryon Frampton, co-owner of Blackmore Nursery in Mason City, believes autumn is a prime time for landscaping.
“It’s a good time to plant, so we’re really going full bore right now,” he said. “The ground temperature is warm and the air is cooler, so there is less stress on plants, but you still need to water.”
Frampton said it’s particularly beneficial to get shade trees planted in the fall.
“Then they go through two cool seasons before we get to hot weather,” he explained. “They get rooted in fall and in spring. Sometimes it’s too wet in spring to plant, so they may only be in the ground a few weeks before hot weather sets in.”
In addition to single tree plantings, Blackmore Nursery does residential and commercial landscaping, from design services to installation.
“We’ve got two crews going right now. There’s a lot of work out there, so we stay busy,” said Frampton, who has worked at the business for 16 years.
The Mason City nursery was started by Bill Blackmore in 1945. Dan Cullen and Mary Connally Hardin, horticulturists, joined him in the 1980s. Blackmore died in 2007. Justin Squier and Bryon Frampton joined the ownership in 2010. It adds up to nearly 75 years in the business of improving the community’s landscapes.
Blackmore Gardens on Highway 122, across from the Mercy One medical campus, is the company’s retail outlet. Blackmore’s large nursery, located at 650 South Garfield Avenue, is the hub of operations. The retail store opened in the 1990s to reach more customers in a convenient location. In addition to plants, it features garden art, planters, and other gardening embellishments.
Frampton said Blackmore’s particular quality comes from its focus on locally-grown nursery stock from the Garfield site and its own sod grown north of town.
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“Shade trees and perennials are started from bare root and grown up for a season or two," Frampton said. "We irrigate the nursery from Spring Lake here in Mason City. We always have new crops coming up, so if we sell out of something this week, we’ll have more available next week. If you grow your own stock, you can pick the best stuff.”
This time of year, Blackmore also offers seasonal items like pumpkins, potted mums, and Christmas trees.
“A lot of perennials do well planted in fall. We stick with tough stuff that can stand up to our winters,” Frampton said. “Purple fountain grass, an annual, mixes well with pumpkins and mums. The hydrangeas are really blooming well, and sedums and daylilies are still blooming.”
When winter approaches, the retail location closes until April.
“But we’re available at the nursery. We do a lot of planning then,” Frampton said. “When things start doing dormant, we over-winter everything we don’t sell and get ready for winter storage.”
The business employs about 12 to 15 people, many of them seasonal. Like many North Iowa businesses, Frampton noted that it’s hard to find labor force in these days of low unemployment.
It’s been a strong year for Blackmore Nursery, according to Frampton.
“This summer, from spring all the way through, business has been really good,” he said. “We have nice stuff, when you compare quality, price, and selection. We have more to offer.”