BY SHARON GITTLEMAN
STOCKBRIDGE – The one thing sure to add extra delight to this summer’s sunny afternoons is a backyard shaded by the beauty of stately trees. Just imagine yourself lying beneath fragrant green boughs swaying gently in the warm breezes of the season.
Gee Farms has everything you need to turn your garden into a true paradise.
“We are Michigan’s largest retail nursery,” said Kary Gee, co-owner and manager of Gee Farms. “We specialize in rare or unusual specimen plant materials. We’re a collectors’ nursery.”
At Gee Farms, you’ll find nearly 300 acres of field-grown trees, 20 greenhouses and more then ten acres of potted nursery materials.
“A lot of the trees we grow are one-of-a-kind specimens for your garden,” she said. “Our logo is, ‘from the usual to the unusual, we have it all.'”
Japanese Stewartia is one of the exotic tree varieties you’ll find at Gee Farms.
“There’s something beautiful about it in all four seasons,” said Gee.
In the summer, you’ll enjoy the tree’s soft green leaves, she said. In the fall, the foliage transforms into the spectacular colors of an autumn sunset – orange, red and yellow. In the winter, the tree maintains its elegant shape and form allowing its bark’s natural patchwork colors to come to the forefront, with tones from cream to green.
There’s an abundance of conifers at the farm, said Gee.
Weeping white pines are just one ornamental favorite, thanks to its elegant cascading boughs.
“Each has its own personality. Each will have a different shape,” she said. “It may stand six feet tall and weep over to three feet tall and come back up again. It can be trained to do whatever you want.”
Frost-free late-blooming yellow magnolias, with blossoms ranging from blush to banana, are a good choice for more formal gardens, said Gee, while flowering dogwoods are perfect for many landscape plans.
“Everyone wants a dogwood. They have pretty fall colors, nice molted bark and often a little lichen,” she said.
Gee Farms carries nearly 60 different kinds of flowering dogwoods.
“Many are native to Michigan,” she said. “Some are white-flowering or pink-flowering dogwoods.”
Gee Farms is more than just a nursery.
“We’re also gardeners,” she said. “We know the plants and their likes and dislikes.”
If you bring in pictures of your property, Farm employees can help you design your perfect garden.
“We don’t do it for you because we figure it’s your yard. It should be how you like it,” she said. “Everybody’s taste is different.”
On the Farm’s webpage, you’ll find more than a dozen helpful articles, including the benefits of landscaping and tips for celebrating your wedding with a tree planning party.
You’ll also hear good advice during your visits to the Farm.
“I encourage people to plant trees or shrubs that have beauty over more than one season,” she said.
It’s a bad idea to select a tree just because of its flowers, Gee said.
“Most trees and shrubs only bloom for a maximum of one month,” she said. “Instead, you should consider factors including a tree’s structure, fall colors and exfoliating barks.”
You won’t only find trees and shrubs at Gee’s Farm. The Farm offers dozens of garden statues, from country-style butterfly pots to fairies and Greek goddesses.
“We carry a full line of chemicals for your trees and plants – including fertilizers and bug killers,” she said.
They also install sprinkler systems to water your lawn and design unique fountains for inside and outside your home.
Gee Farms has been in operation for more than 100 years.
“I’m the sixth generation,” said Gee.
The company is proud to be a gay-friendly farm.
“Gay men especially have a great eye for landscaping,” she said. “They buy some of the coolest stuff and have the greatest gardens. ”
You can visit Gee Farms at 14928 Bunkerhill Road. The Farm is one-and-a-half hours west of Detroit, just south of Lansing. To learn more, call them at (517) 769-6772 or at (800) 860-BUSH. Visit their web page at http://www.geefarms.com to discover a glossary of botanical terms, helpful gardening articles and tips and more information about their shrubs, trees and other products.
BY SHARON GITTLEMAN