The Nursery Tours I took Monday left me with a number of stories to tell about where we are in the history of the field. These stories will all be told with two characters - the first, a classic, internationally known plantsman and nursery owner in his early 70s; and the second, a man, just older
than I by a decade, also a nursery owner who identifies not as a "plantsman" but as a "businessman."
Mark, the businessman (who, I will be very excited to buy plant material from because it is all great stock), notes that his nursery doesn't have a propagator anymore. That work is specialized and now they buy in all their rooted material in 288s and move them up into #1 cans where they grow them on and develop them for a number of months before they are ready to ship into the retail/wholesale market.
Mark's story is evoked as I am reading through this 40 year old Garden and Patio Building book put out by Sunset Magazine in 1979. There is a whole chapter in the book on cold frames, hotbeds, greenhouses, plant shelters, shade structures, potting sheds, and work benches. These used to actually be part of peoples gardens. But. The home gardener also got rid of the propagator.
An entire part of horticulture that relates people to nature - seeds, rooting cuttings, propagation - has disappeared. Now we just buy everything in.