Tag Archives: nurseries

50 Years of Stories – Hooks Nursery

The Uniqueness of Plants
Bill MacReynolds, owner of Hooks Nursery, was pivotal in my career. At the time he was acknowledged as one of the best growers and nurserymen in the business.
He was always leery of academics in the field of horticulture and landscape architecture, and me being neither, he guided me through the true ins and outs of plant selection.
One of his greatest joys was informing headstrong idealists who spent hours combing his fields for the perfect specimen that it was already sold.
He once told me, “Harry, if you were to remove what you thought was the best tree in this row, logically wouldn’t there be another that would stand out as a specimen?” “Of course,” I replied, not wanting to upset my mentor.
He responded, “Well that’s why I save the best trees for people like you, because you understand the beauty in all plants. Every one is unique and has value.”
I’ve always remembered that, and tried to impart that wisdom on others. Finding beauty in everything has been a philosophy that has served me well.
Harry Vignocchi

Why to choose container plants first

One of our invaluable assets is our sister company, Montale Gardens.  Located in Wauconda, Illinois, Montale is a wholesale nursery celebrating its 23rd birthday this year.  With each year we increase our diversity of products.  One of our most successful lines are our container shrubs.  The quality cannot be rivaled, in our humble opinion…here are some highlights of what make them and our other products so special.

Montale is a container nursery. What does ‘container nursery’ mean, exactly?

It means that we grow our plants in POTS.

Our shrubs and ornamental trees are not field grown – meaning dug out of the field, then balled and burlapped (B & B).  Our plants’ lives are started and nurtured in their containers, and that is the way you purchase them.

Benefits of container grown plants

  • A substantial root system develops first – tops are important, but are second priority.
  • It’s all about the root system when you are producing a plant. The container is its own mini-nursery for that plant to grow strong roots in, so that its foundation is sturdy when it’s time to plant it.
  • Our pots are not smooth-sided, but have vertical grooves.
  • The grooves on the sides of the pot direct the roots to grow down the sides and toward the drainage holes, encouraging rooting and root mass.
  • You get all the roots the plant ever grew.
  • No roots are lost in the process of digging the plant out of a field. Everything the plant had from the beginning is right there.
  • Container plants receive and drain water more easily than B & B plants.
  • They also benefit from a good dose of slow-release fertilizer, which is contained in the pot, and continues to keep the plant strong and healthy.
  • Containers are easy to transport, handle and plant.
  • Just grab the edges of the pots and go!
  • Containers made of plastic are recyclable.
  • It matters to respect the earth, so recycle them on your own, or return them to us.
  • Transplant shock is reduced or eliminated.
  • Less concern about returning to the site to solve problems later.

Montale Gardens

About 20 years ago we sold our facility in Prairie View, IL and relocated to two new facilities, one in Wauconda and one in Island Lake.  Our facility in Island Lake is home to our production teams, mechanics and outside material storage.  Our facility in Wauconda started as a corporate headquarters and evolved, thanks to our very entrepreneurial founder, into an impressive shrub, perennial and groundcover wholesale nurseryMontale Gardens.

To those in the industry, the evolution from landscape professional to nurseryman is a natural one.  Most of the companies I know who have done it do so for a myriad of reasons…cutting cost, controlling quality, and revenue growth.

My father and I are very proud of our little sister nursery…she has the same culture and values as her big brother landscape company.  Those of service, fun, integrity and quality.

This winter, under the new leadership of Melisa Bell, Montale got a brand facelift.  When it comes to our image (we are Italian so the vanity runs quite deep) we are emotional and opinionated.  So the process was argumentative yet fun, painful yet invigorating.

When all was said and done, we are all so proud of the end result.  Here is a peak at the evolution, starting with my father’s original ILT logo, it’s next incarnation, Montale’s new logo, and their new look on display at the very popular industry trade show, ilandscape.

Harry Vignocchi’s original tree logo as seen to the left.

We call it the “V” tree which is our logo atop our original logo

Montale’s new logo

Melisa Bell talks to a customer at our ilandscape booth