Thayer and Tom Dodd, III, along with Al Showers, started the nursery in early 1992 with these express goals:

  • to produce the kinds of plants we like
  • to produce quality products for the markets we foresee in the future
  • to continue in the tradition of Tom's father to:
    • keep looking for new species
    • new forms of old species
    • new uses for the better plants
    • continue promoting little known plants of promise.

Here in lower Alabama, we are blessed with an incredible diversity of plant and animal life. This is because we are at the former southern tip of the Appalachian mountain range, and many new species were pushed down by glaciers. We are also at the confluence of many rivers, and some species have drifted south. Our soils are sandy and our water is plentiful. Mobile and Baldwin, the two coastal counties of Alabama, have more plant species than all of Europe.

America's first native born naturalist, William Bartram traveled extensively through the South. It is well known that other countries appreciate North American plants. Ironically, nurserymen in other lands have done more to develop and use our native plant than we have. A Japanese landscape architect with whom Tom Dodd, Jr. has exchanged seed for years, related that in Japan he uses mostly Japanese native plants and a few exotic specimens (mostly dogwood and magnolia). When he visited the US, he saw the same thing - a predominance of Japanese plants and few plants native to North America! He hypothesized that this is because the US is a young country and we are not yet comfortable with our own plant material. There is also the Victorian mentality that something is good if it is from afar. We are finally learning this is not true with plants. The importance of provenance is beginning to be recognized by plantsmen and gardeners alike.

We feel plants chosen from our southernmost range will be more adaptable to the Southern garden and will perhaps move North more easily than northern range plants move South. For example, "Mountain Laurel" - Kalmia latifolia, grows in abundance here along the creeks and rivers of the South. Plants grown from seed acquired locally do well here. Similar specimens that we have tried to move South simply don't thrive well in our hot, humid climate. It is simply common sense. If a species or cultivar has developed in a particular climate, it will probably fair better in that climate than specimens that are genetically inclined to thrive in other regions.

Like a lot of our plants, this website is a hybrid grown of many years work in the nursery and in the information database we've developed over those years. All of the photographs were taken by Thayer Dodd. Some of the information here won't agree with your observations, but we use OUR information based on years of experiences and observations in nature and in the nursery. It agrees generally with the books listed in the reference section. However, most of the publications to date have been written by Northeners for the North, and our Southern plants just haven't read those books. Many good Southern plants aren't even mentioned in those books. That is changing with the help of Dr. Mike Dirr of the University of Georgia and others.

Tom's experiences in Viet Nam.


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