Getting to know your neighbor: Boston Hill Nursery blooms where it is planted
Schottin has co-owned the business with his brother Brian since 1992. The pair worked at Schichtel’s Nursery in Springville throughout high school and college, which is when Brad Schottin said he first got a taste for the business.
The Schottins bought the property, located on the site of an old dairy farm, from Bob Schultz, who also used to own the Hamburg Airport, although the farm had gone through a series of owners previously. The business is comprised of three parts: a retail nursery, cut-your-own Christmas tree farm and a landscape design division. Landscape plantings include residential, municipal and commercial, although Schottin noted that the nursery does not do stonework. The nursery and tree farm sits on 30 acres of land on Old Lower East Hill Road.
Although Schottin said the location can be difficult to find at first, he said that once people find Boston Hill Nursery, they get hooked.
“People find out about us and come down. They come here and say, ‘I heard about you, but I didn’t know you were that big.’ They keep coming back,” he said. “We do [landscaping] shows and mail out our catalog to new homeowners, which lists our trees, shrubs and information. We also offer a free consultation and if there are any changes, people can call us and we can try to help them out,” he explained.
The business’s salespeople are available for questions about the plants on-site, and Schottin said his brother offers advice on landscape design, as well.
“A lot of people listen to what we suggest, but sometimes people have their own ideas. We also offer a one-year guarantee. We don’t have a lot of problems, but there are sometimes weather-related issues or bugs,” he said. “One of the most important elements is the soil. If the soil isn’t good, you’re going to have problems. We compost our plants, and that makes a big difference.”
“The reason we do it that way is to keep our prices reasonable. The longer it takes to grow, the most costly it’s going to be. Trees are costly enough, already,” Schottin said. He added that his business has a wider variety of trees and shrubs, including many unusual types, because its plants are kept in-ground, rather than sitting in root balls on the property.
The Boston Hill Nursery trees are planted in the ground surrounded by fabric bags, so their root systems are contained enough to allow customers to take them home themselves, if they so choose.
“It’s very manageable. It’s not like a field-dug tree that has to be brought in with a lot of heavy machinery. Our customers can plant the trees themselves, or we will come and plant them for them if they don’t feel comfortable,” Schottin explained. “It saves them money, because they don’t have to rent the equipment. That way, they can buy more. They don’t get sticker shock,” he added, noting that one of his trees can cost half the price of trees at other local nurseries.
The nursery stocks a wide variety of trees, shrubs and perennials, although Schottin said the stock changes based on what customers like and what grows well.
“There’s a lot of trial and error, like there always is with living things. People have their favorites.”
Open year-round, the nursery also stocks “cut your own” Christmas trees.
“It takes a tree about 8 - 15 years to grow to harvestable size,” explained Schottin. “Once you get through the first crop, that’s when it gets easier. That first [season] is tough, because you’re still learning. We have three varieties that we find do best in this area.”
Schottin said that his nursery does not grow Douglas firs, because that crop has been experiencing devastating disease in past years, which makes them unsustainable.
“We grow what we know we can grow well, because ,at the end of the day, people want a nice, full tree that is going to last,” he said, noting that his own family’s tree lasted seven weeks last year.
“We threw it out because we just got sick of looking at it,” he said, with a laugh. “It still didn’t look bad at all. Most people aren’t shopping for a name; they want something that’s going to look good.”
For both the spring and summer planting season and holiday tree harvesting, Schottin said that his business is located conveniently for many Western New Yorkers, but still feels like an adventure to a rural oasis.
“We’re centrally located, but it feels like you’re out in the country when you come here. It’s like a little escape, which is nice, especially when you’re taking that trip to get your tree around Christmas,” he said. “People like the adventure of it.”
Boston Hill Nursery is open from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. through November, at which time it changes to winter hours. The Schottin brothers and their staff can be reached for inquiries at 662-7411.