tips hit the air, and they dry up, forcing the secondary or lateral roots to take over.”
This process creates healthy and highly fibrous root systems.
“The difference between the trees that we grow and what we call the B&B — the balled and burlap trees — is that a typical grower will take a seedling, plant it in the ground and then six or seven years later dig it up with a tree spade,” Flanigan explained. “That tree spade basically cuts off 85 to 90 percent of the roots. So a customer would end up with a tree with only 10 to 15 percent of its roots, which really stresses out the tree for many years.”
Flanigan believes that “great roots produce better trees,” and added that his growing process allows buyers to get a tree that has 100 percent of its roots in tact.
“The process is more labor intensive — but the end result is a tree that is far healthier and a tree that can be planted with little to no transplant shock.”
Once a tree outgrows its initial pot, it is transplanted — by hand — to a Rootmaker tree bag where it continues to grow. The trees may be upstaged several times before being sold. Flanigan said he uses a custom plant mix that he has made and delivered to the farm.
“We don’t have any metal tools near the trees,” he said. The older trees are spring fed by a well on the property via a drip irrigation method, which Flanigan said uses up to 60 percent less water than conventional irrigation and puts the water where it’s needed. Brandywinetrees.com also uses overhead spraying for smaller first and second year potted seedlings. Hand watering is done for those trees Flanigan calls “thirsty trees.”
“We also don’t use any synthetic chemical herbicide or pesticide. We use all natural solutions that are certified organic,” he added.
Trees have been a passion for Flanigan for a long time
“It’s always been in my blood — in my heart. I have wanted to grow trees since I was a teenager. Trees are a gift of life,” he said.
Flanigan started as an agricultural sciences major at Penn State. Midway through, however, he switched to marketing, and ultimately built a career. But the passion never left.
“It got to a point where I just had to do it — it’s now or never.”
Flanigan has been growing his business since 2010 – literally. Once he made the decision to launch the Brandywinetrees.com, Flanigan started potting trees in his house, before finding a piece of land.
“I had more than 1,000 trees on my back deck, patio, basement and living room — with the idea that I knew I was going to find land and I didn’t want to have to let lack of land stop me,” he said. Flanigan’s largest order has been 132 trees that he recently sold to an arboretum.
“We aim for the large orders, we have the capacity, and we have the trees here,” he said.
Among the varieties Brandywinetrees.com carries are several Cherry and Maple trees; Rosy Teacups Dogwood, which has a unique dark pink flower and several unusual Ginkgo trees.
“We also have some unique Magnolias, including the Yulan Magnolia — revered in China for over 1,000 years,” Flanigan said. “It flowers early in spring. And it is just a sight to behold — a gorgeous, gorgeous tree and they are hard to find.”
All the trees at brandywinetrees.com are rated for USDA zones 5, 6 and 7 — to withstand the area’s winters. On the company’s website is a tree catalog outlining the 120 varieties that are available, as well as a listing of when each variety will be available. In addition, visitors to the site can view a video Flanigan just added that explains the air root pruning process.
Brandywinetrees.com sells exclusively to professional horticulturists. Flanigan has a staff of four currently working with him. The nursery operates from April through the end of November.
For more information visit www.brandywinetrees.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BrandywineTrees/
Robert Flanigan has started an online and wholesale tree nursery — Brandywinetrees.com. He has 12,000 trees including this Magnolia Denudata.
Before purchasing land to grow his trees, Robert Flanigan grew seedlings in his home — at one time having about 1,000 seedlings. Shown here are some of the seedlings in his basement.
Stewartia pseudocamellia at Brandywinetrees.com