. Welcome to...John Gordon Nursery
1385 Campbell Blvd, Amherst, New York, 14228

This is a small, mail order nursery. What started as a planting of Hemming Chinese chestnuts in 1962 has evolved into a 10,000 nut tree research planting, and is being weeded down to a few select nut and minor fruit trees. This nursery mails bare root trees wrapped in moist newspaper in late March thru May, cuttings and stratified seed in March, freezable seed like chestnut after freezing weather March/April.  Scion cuttings are for grafting = ISgraft.jpg 

  This planting is on low ground, an ex-lake bed from just after the Ice Age, old Lake Tonawanda...now cool as seen in heat map = GDD50.jpg  Winters often reach -20 Deg F near the ground. Early Fall frosts are usual as on most river flats...half way from Buffalo to Lockport, NY. The soil is 8 inches of garden soil on top of 9 feet of silts and sands; river deposits with clam shells. Tonawanda native chestnuts and red oaks are locally adapted to this sweet soil, not the usual blue berry soil types. For typical native chestnut to look healthy this garden soil has to be acidified.

    Pawpaws, Persimmons, some Filberts/Hazel, and especially Korean Nut Pine need watching and watering directed onto the ground with about 1/4 cup of agricultural sulfuric acid in 5 gallons of water, usually as rain is seen coming on the AccuWeather radar. 

  Walnut, hickory, plus most chestnut and filbrt bear large nuts productively without treating this garden soil. 10,000 trees (not counting seedlings in planting beds) will sort to 2,500 trees for adequate testing to gain the final cut to less than 1000. These are minimum care nut trees, and native fruit trees, except insecticide is needed for heartnut and chestnut as is expected in any large planting. I am now thinning my catalog to reflect squirrel predation in planting beds, and the lack of space for future planting. Trying to work around predators, it pays to change growing to items that start from root cuttings; on-own-root items; pawwpaw, persimmon, filbert. Mulberries root from 18" dormant shoot cuttings.

  Testing continues in cooperation with several members of the Northern Nut Growers Association, the North American Fruit Explorers, The PawPaw Foundation the Society of Ontario Nut Growers ,and the New York Nut Growers Association who test under similar conditions. We share scion wood which sometimes provides great selections, but usually great genes for sorting out in future generations.

  Do not think we have success in hand, because, when a geneticist/breeder, we should have 60 varietal lines of excellent, resistant nuts to test against a disease to build in more resistance genes...as the blight-resistant- chestnut growers know...as the butternut bark and root diseases are learning.

. . Nursery items: walnut,hickory, filbert, chestnut, pawpaw, persimmon, shelters, book, other
. . .The Walnuts: Black walnut is very common nut in the eastern United States. Walnuts like moist, but not "wet", sweet garden soil. At "germination" walnuts are lockets which open their shells at their suture, but black walnuts bind thruugh their shell, stringing kernel on hole at the embryo end; flower end.  This hole should not look like a shoe lace hole, but usually does. This hole should be a long slit joining kernel toward other nut end, hopefully most of the way to the stem end. Crack the walnut with jaws of a cracker on the nut suture, and the bending often pops the shell outside the slit away from the suture. Emma K is a good example of a Black Walnut with a slit along its kernel, and splitting off at this slit.  Heartnuts crack with Vice-Grip pliers putting pressure on the suture to dent it in under pressure, but this time the suture releases without cracking shell.

Persian (Hardy English) walnut can drop clean of its green hulls.  Black walnuts typically carry their hulls past maturity until the hulls are pressed off, or are degraded off; first yellowing (the most staining stage, and the rubber boot stage for pressing off hull), then darkening to ink ready to plant, or store for planting. All walnuts are dried in a clean, airy state for a week to a month before kernel extraction, usually by cracking.

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Also see b-sHRT00.jpg i-sHRT00.jpg also b-sHyBU0.jpg c-sBW00.jpg . .

Juglansailantifolia var. mandchurica Covel Manchurianis a vast improvement over typical Japanese walnuts, and native butternuts ( J. cinerea ), considering cracking, hull removal, and sharp spines. Though the kernel of Covel is tight in the half-shell, it is not keyed in. Its flavor and production are tops, so we suffer with a medium hard shell, suture which is too long to always crack all the suture, and having to wiggle the kernel from the half-shell to get it out whole.  Covel's tree, or Heartnut trees, looks like spreading butternut trees, but with little butternut bark and root disease.
. . Juglans nigra Black Walnut -Elmer Myers is an Ohio State selection noted for timber tall straightness, and high quality nut production. Kernel extraction requires cracking like a poor hickory nut where one does mighty damage to bust up the shell to achieve kernel extraction.  Unfortunately Elmer Myers is fortified right at its "shoe lace" holes.  It has a thin outer shell which reveals its kernel outline. Juglans regia Carroll Persian is an English (or California) walnut, cold hardy like Carpathian, but not as easily injured by late spring frost. Among its other good qualities is a thin, well sealed shell. The Carroll nuts quickly sell out at the roadside.
Juglans ailantifolia Var. cordiformis CW3,Imshu, Schubert Heartnuts - Heartnuts are the truly locket nuts. Pressure on the nut's shoulders forces the half shells apart, and the kernel dumps free. Locket is a perfect valentine, and its shells are prized for jewelry Stealth is a large flat nut which will crack out whole in commercial cone crackers because the half shells shear apart, and slide sideways over the kernel, not damaging the kernel.
. . J a c x nigra/cinerea Hybrid Heartnuts - Filsinger is the locket form, black walnut cross, but does not retain the black walnut flavor. Dooley, Sauber, and Baker have the general shape of a heartnut, butternut cross, but are mainly retained for breeding. Their seedlings are vulnerable to the ink diseases of walnut where the Black walnut is somewhat resistant. (Phytophthera sp.) is one problem.  Baker is the most upright tree, and hardy against arctic cold.

. . . . . The Hickory: Pecan is in this genus, Carya. These are not locket nuts. If the nut is struck side to side at its broadest with the sharpest blow, producing the most shell fragments, frees the most (and largest) pieces of kernel.  Pecan is a commercial nut because a percussive blow on its ends buckles its shell, and produces whole kernels. Similarly, a hammer blow across the wide center of shagbark, or shellbark, will shatter the shell (the case and center ridge) to expose most kernel. Selections are made of hickories which have flat, smooth sides, outside, which reflects to smooth inside. These are selection producing whole kernels.

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. . Carya ovata Shagbark Hickory - Weschcke is a flat, relatively narrow nut typical of easy cracking hickories. It is an upland hickory from northern Iowa, early ripening, productive. Porter from Pennsylvania is larger. Both suffer weevil infestation below Interstate 80 due to early kernel fill; not a problem in New York. Yoder#1 from Ohio is a large shagbark which fills later, and is much less troubled where weevils abound.

. . Carya laciniosa Shellbark Hickory -Fayette and Henry are the earliest to bear and most productive of the Pennsylvania shellbarks, often starting to bear on an eight foot tall grafted tree. Doug Campbell's CES 24 from Sarnia, Ontario starts bearing on a 15 foot tree. It has the thinnest nutshell of the shellbarks, and benefits from removal of too many terminal branches to gain branches that naturally lean for light penetration, and branch strength to carry the harvest.

. . Carya illinoensis Pecan - Pecan is an educational nut. It shows that the earliest ripening pecans grow due west of here on the Mississippi; that removing shaded branches allows in light, build strong branches, reveals nuts, and blue jays working the nuts.  Blue jays are harvested by Kestrels and Harrier hawks which gather at a planting of nitrogen fixing Autumn Olive which draws in fruit eating birds.

Snaps from Bellevue, Iowa is the earliest ripening (20 Sept 99 in Amherst): 1.1" tip to tip, football shape nut, thinnest shell of the pecans. Other far north pecans are GI Joe, Deerstand, Diken, Oaks, Gibson, Dejay, and Fritz Flat. If good growing-weather continues, each is respectively 5 days later ripe, and 0.1" longer.  After ripening Oaks, Gibson, etc. ripening has to be brought inside as the nuts often freeze turn black due to too much moisture.

. . Carya illinoensis x laciniosa Hicans- These hybrid pecans ripen with the early pecans, though only Henke and Abbott dry  fast to avoid freezing.  The larger hicans retain too much moisture to ripen outdoors.  Their kernels taste like shellbark hickory, and are easy to end crack. Henke is 1.25": Hy-6 and Kreider, or Marquardt 1.75". Marquardt really has to be brought inside before heavy frost.  Abbott “Pecan”(thin shell) is a paper shell Bitcan (pecan x bitternut hickory) of pecan flavor. It grows in a group of three Bitcans by a house just east of Fulton , Illinois. Abbott "Pecan" ripens in August west of Chicago, but is early October ripening here.


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.. The Filbert: American hazel is a small, densely suckering bush (half lilac size) that grows native here. Hybrids with European filbert (lilac large nut-bush) balloon the pea size of the native kernel to above marble size kernels of hybrids. These hybrids are winter hardy, but are only partially resistant to the Eastern Filbert Blight. Hybrids with Turkish tree hazel have larger, and thinner shell nuts, but are just hardy enough to fruit heavily after a normal USDA Zone 6 winter, and few Turkish hybrids have shown great blight resistance, though their deeper roots give them more energy to sustain growth, and bearing. Many fully resistant European filberts are being discovered. GrimoNut.com has some for sale

. . Corylus avallana crosses, (complex hybrids) Slate's Hybrids - Professor George Slate ran his unofficial projects with Persians, Filberts, Persimmons, and Pawpaws at the Geneva NY Ag Experiment Station. He made many crosses with European filbert and hazel, sometimes importing named European varieties, starting with Rush hybrids (C.avallana x C. americana ). Great benefits came from Prof. Slate's work, putting two and maybe three genes for resistance in Filbert, one from each species, and using tree hazel to remove the hard helmet from European x native hybrid nuts. Eastern Filbert Blight surfaced late in his project (1970s, at his fourth and last generation),and gave us the results to evaluate for EFB resistance.

New seed and seedlings are out of productive selections remaining non-blighted.

. . Corylus avallana x colurna Treefilberts - Tree filberts are tall, several stem nut-trees with gray flaking bark, and thinner shell nuts than tree hazel. OB1, OB2 (scions only) show most promise among Tree Hazel types.  Slagel Filbert, is very Eastern Filbert Blight resistant.
. . . The Chestnut;Think hybrid sweet chestnut whenever chestnutis mentioned by a Canadian nut grower, then narrow thinking toward northern Chinese, or hybrid with native of Chinese, Japanese, Chinese X Japanese, or European. Typical Chinese, Japanese, and European is too tender to grow here.  All Native Chestnut, and most Hybrid Chestnut get the bark blight. Bright winter sun during an arctic high, raises fluids under the bark, allowing rapid freezing to destroy bark (called south-west injury) on all chestnut species. Japanese is great to breed because it has disease resistance (blight and gall wasp resistance) and large nuts, early ripe due to the cool Japanese climate. Japanese Hybrids still need a lot of selecting, having a thin bark, and mild native climate.


d-sCHS00.jpg . . Castaneamolllissima Hemming strain Chinesechestnut - These are from the few survivors of a bushel of chestnut seed brought back from the Paradise Plantation, Maryland in 1962. I found it the general rule that Chinese chestnut does not survive above Maryland, but that Hemming is short season, and is one of the non-hybrid Chinese to try.  Others exist, but it takes looking. Some with thick bark turn out hardy, and some are found growing on NY Rte 5, 6 mi. west of Geneva, NY.
. . Castanea mollisima x dentata Douglass Hybrid chestnut - These originated with Earl Douglass of Reed Creek, NY. His birdhouse business took him from New Jersey to Massachusetts, and he brought back hardy Chinese and Japanese. The best Chinese he crossed with a noted surviving American. After two generations Six selections were made that looked 1/4 Chinese 3/4 American. Selections showed 1 inch red hull nuts, and large trees with resistance. The largest Douglass trees with the largest nuts were grafted here, and are now 1 foot diameter trees. Douglass hybrids look 3/4 American. Blight is still a big problem, but it moves slower than the trees grow; some stems die as some stems grow back.
complex hybrids x crenata Ridgestrain chestnut. These started from seed gathered off the earliest and best Japanese tree in Chestnut Ridge Park, Orchard Park, NY. The largest, earliest chestnuts come from these Chestnut Ridge seedlings, and other Japanese hybrids.
. . Castanea complex hybrids x sativa Layeroka strain European hybrids. These started with Jack U.Gellatley in the Okenogen Valley of British Columbia, Canada. Layerokamirrors many of its seedlings, seeming to be identical twins, but have variable resistance, and usually poor bark health against South-West/freeze-thaw injury; productive trees with large early nuts, somewhat not hard/soft nuts. Simpson strain European hybrid is very much like Layeroka, but has pollen, and a round nut. Pollen is often lacking on European types. The European types go down after an arctic winter, but start up again if grafted below ground.

pagoldtiapawt. . . . .Pawpaw,Michigan-Indiana sorts - Pawpaws grow locally, but selections came from material from Pennsylvania, or the Michigan/Indiana border. Pennsylvania has the earliest ripe pawpaw. The Indiana are the largest, lowest seed, and will cross to become early. Combining these into an early fruit has peoduced large globe fruit covering its line of nickel size seeds with flesh that one does not mind eating skin-on. Bad news is that there are comparitively few of these per row of 100. Pawpaw trees are like sumac (similar size and bark, but look like small American magnolia/cucumber trees with giant leaves) that try to run out a whole stand form one individual. In Nature this stand prospers near water with major roots just under leaf mold. To get pawpaw into this native setting we start pawpaw by acidifying soil, then keep it growing with moisture, saw dust and grass killer. Pawpaws are pollinated by carrion flies and beetles. Pawpaw fruit ripen best on the tree, or, when blown down full size, in the leaves on the ground under the tree. The ripening fruit will tolerate frost and some frozen flesh, and still ripen. Pealed and sectioned onto breakfast cereal with crumbled chocolate cookie, even almost ripe pawpaws are made to taste like a chocolate desert.  I used to send grafted pawpaws with individual tree shelters, but switched to a white plastic kitchen bags to be stapled on stakes for shade because pawpaws overheated at 80 F. (Removed shelter at 80 F weather was the instruction); In strong sun pawpaws need shade 10AM to 2 PM  White plastic bag stapled on stakes for shade the first growing season; shade whether grafts, or seed, or transplants the first season. 
. . Asimina trilobaPawpaw - PA Golden Strain Pawpawis early ripening. Coming from the deep, cold valleys above Harrisburg, PA it ripens its whole crop in unusually cool seasons. We average an unusually cool season once in eight, or so, years. Very seldom do we get a 2900GDD year when everything ripens. All pawpaw trees survive cold winters. Most seedlings with the larger fruit riped few fruit  in a 2300 GDD season, while that same year all their fruit ripened in Ohio, and similar climates in Pennsylvania. PA Golden 1,PA Golden 2, PA Golden 3, are grafted selections. Their rich yellow flesh indicates ripeness in September. The named pawpaws are grafted, and a few PA Golden 1 will be lifted sprouts on their own roots when specified. Taytwo, SAAZimmerman, Overlease, SAAOverlease, SAB Overlease, and Campbell's NC 1 are progressively later and larger fruit. With good growing during a warm season NC 1has ripened 18 oz. fruit(but may not ripen), 2 to 3 times the 6 ounce fruit of PA Golden and Taytwo.

. . Persimmon - Mid-western native persimmonfrom central Iowa east to central New York is the hardy,soft, apricot-like persimmon, hardy and early enough to grow and ripen here. When late ripening, this orange fruit is often left on the trees for winter decoration. Its value as food is often overlooked because when it looks ripe it is puckery, and when it looks past ripe it is edible. The trick is to prick an smell persimmon, or pick it up, and break the skin. If a sweet apricotish smell is smelled, it is ripe, and non-puckery.

. . Diospyros virginiana Native Persimmon-Usual ripening order of the persimmon is:: NC 10/Dickie(early September), Szukis, Yates/Geneva Long(late October) ,Prok, SAA Pieper. SAA Pieper persimmon is an Iowa selection which always ripens all its crop in one week in late October here. These named persimmons are grafted, or on-own-root. Because the Piepers ripen late here, and have small fruit, the fruit hangs ornamentally on the tree into winter. Some persimmon seedlings are female, but most are male, and bear no fruit. Some seedlings are too tender to retain bark through our winters. SAAPieper is the hardiest, so provides a good rootstock, and good fruit. Dickie and Campbell's NC 10 are the earliest ripe with fruit dropping September/October. Szukis has both sexes in the same tree, but mainly male. It will pollinate itself, and all the other local varieties. Usually persimmons, like apples, are larger with seeds than without. Seedless native persimmons are a trick of chestnut pollen, triggering fruit-set on persimmon. GenevaLong has many Oriental traits, and similar taste. It is from Professor Slates hybridizing at Geneva. DNA tests are needed to confirm itto be a hybrid. Prok/Korp (sisters) are the size of the smaller Oriental persimmons. They ripen in late October as large, soft American persimmons, but as the season cools, and drying takes over the ripening, the fruit size reduces to pruduce large "Dates". Yates is a quality tree and fruit that ripens most of its crop here before going to "Dates".

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. . Morus alba x rubra Illinois Everbearingand Collier are purple mulberries, 1.5"long by 0.5" diameter. IL is very hardy anderect. Semi-weeping Collier is easier to train low for picking.
. . Cornus mas Cornelian Cherry Dogwood - BlackPlum is known for its early ripe, inch long fruit, and a very dark green glossy leafed large bush: small yellow flowers are never frost injured, graft early=while flowering is starting.
. . Elaeagnus umballata Autumn Olive is a spreading bush which enlivens trees they are under by fixing nitrogen. Autum Olive, Mulberry and Cornelian Cherry Dogwood like limestone (sweet) soil, easily seed into it, and associate well with walnut, hickory, and pecan. Autum Oliveberries are refreshing like lemonade while picking up nuts. Mowing is needed to keep the grove open because the Autum Olivebushes can take over.
. . 30"x4"Diameter tree shelters are a big help in starting transplants in little green houses. I send bare root seedlings which need the transplants to grow vigorously on stored energy. New rooting follows vigorous top growth which risks desiccationin a drying wind. Sustained growth is possible in the moist air of a greenhouse, and that is what tree shelters provide. They should be fitted so that a transplant is topping out of the shelter with the third or fourth leaf. If the shelters are to remain for months, or for years with filbert only, 3/4 inch holes should be drilled, 6 at six inch centers Swiss cheese pattern to let the wind  ventilate, chill, and vibrate the tree for hardening-off. Shelters for filberts do not need holes, and should not have them because filberts are exceedingly hardy, and the shelters on filberts should berenewed to cramp-in and kill suckers in leaves, and do not encouage mice and mouse nests with holes. I sometimes send filbrt sprouts are 18" cuttings for rooting from underground that have small roots and need a tree shelter.
. . The book, Nut Growing Ontario Style, is a 172 page soft cover manual published by the Society of Ontario Nut Growers. There are chapters on each species of nut, pawpaws, persimmons, grafting, and our attempts at breeding.

Send to: John H. Gordon Jr., 1385 Campbell Blvd, Amherst, NY14228-1403