Growing quality plants sustainably, developing sustainable horticultural systems and promoting them to new markets are a priority for North Creek Nurseries. The wholesale propagation nursery specializes in growing perennials, ornamental grasses, ferns, vines and shrubs, and is well known for its patented Landscape Plug, propagated from the operation’s own stock and regionally sourced seed. These plants follow North Creek Nurseries’ commitment to provide material for its traditional wholesale customers, as well as for the growing ecological market, supplying plants for projects such as storm water management, soil stabilization, landscape restoration and habitat establishment.
In 1988, partners Steve Castorani and Dale Hendricks built on their individual experience in landscape contracting and plant propagation, respectively, to grow not only the best perennials, but also to focus on native plants for ecological restoration. The operation grew from humble beginnings on 17 acres in Landenberg, Pa., and expanded to another 28-acre farm in Oxford. In 2008, Castorani bought Hendricks’ share of the company and continued to build on its success.
That same year, Castorani committed to building a 21,000-square-foot community garden to lessen the economic burden on North Creek’s 65 employees. From May through October, each employee receives more than 200 pounds of fresh produce. A portion of the weekly harvest is donated to the local foodbank and the rest is sold to local restaurants.
In recent years, Castorani has seen growing demand for the side of his business focusing on native and ecological plants. With a stake in the American Beauties native plants line, North Creek Nurseries has been part of the effort to bring the brand to retail, and promote the wide-spread use of natives in mainstream landscapes.
North Creek Nurseries is pursuing the LEED landscape market. To meet the criteria, the operation has reduced waste and electrical and water use, and removed peat from growing media. Castorani and his team turned the Landenberg farm into an ecologically balanced growing operation, strictly using only biological controls and predatory insects. North Creek Nurseries has set up a learning laboratory on site to teach customers how to use ecological plants in bioswales, raingardens, greenroofs and other applications. Castorani says he wants North Creek Nurseries to continue as a contender in the market providing plants for LEED buildings, and to move his operation forward by using alternatives to chemicals.