acerfreemaniiautumnblazeTrees are the ‘bones’ of any landscape, providing structure and architecture to build a design from. Swan River Gardens sells trees in many sizes, from small and economical potted ones to large (Balled & Burlap) ‘B&B’ that are ‘instant’ trees.

Trees serve a number of purposes in the landscape. Majestic Maples offer shade and are planted to make a cool refuge in the yard or cool the house the ‘green’ way. Showy Flowering Crabapples can be counted on to burst into color in May and herald the coming season. ToweringIMG_4604 Blue Spruce will provide a wind break and four seasons of screening. Distinctly colorful Canada Red Chokecherries make a showy point in the landscape and give visual relief from too much green!

Swan River Gardens brings in trees that thrive in the Flathead Valley and makes sure they are properly acclimated. Quite a few of our nursery trees come from neighboring northern Idaho where they grow them tough and hardy! Our knowledgeable nursery staff will help you select a tree for any site that will serve your purpose to enhance your property. The staff will give you good instructions so you can plant a tree and have it thrive. We know trees can be the biggest investment in the landscape so we do all we can to help you succeed. Come walk through the Swan River Gardens tree yards and you’ll see many wonderful specimens to consider taking home.

pruning diagram


shrub yard 3Swan River Gardens grows and sells a great selection of shrubs that are suited for all of the Flathead Valley. Our growers know their stuff and make sure our plants are hardy and acclimated for our region. Customers can select from flowering shrubs like spirea and lilac and many kinds of evergreen junipers or spruces. Our landscape designers can help you chose IMG_1978shrubs that will work in any site.

While shrubs are sometimes viewed as ‘boring’ plants that just go around the foundation of the house we’d like to expand your thinking and inspire you to see shrubs as players in your perennial beds, anchors for dramatic island beds in the yard or for stately hedge borders that define spaces and lead the eye to vistas beyond your property. There is a shrub, or two, or three that can do all these things and more.

SRG May 29 2007 168 In your perennial beds, a small spirea like ‘Little Princess’ flowers in June and July and then makes a tidy green mound that punctuates the space. A neat evergreen like ‘Little Gem’ Spruce can provide structure and interest through all four seasons. In a larger island bed, a dwarf lilac such as ‘Miss Kim’ with its strong vase shape and medium size 4-5’ of height will help transition from a tree’s size smoothly to a perennial plant’s size and make a design flow effortlessly.

If you are fond of your view of the mountains but not of your neighbor’s property, a row of native red twig dogwood, Cornus sericea, can make an informal boundary that will require little care once established. A more formal hedge of trimmed and clipped Alpine Currant makes an excellent living fence that can define a smaller space and provide a green backdrop for other plants.

Selecting the proper shrub for a site is important to get right. Swan River Gardens Retail Nursery Yard is full of informative signs that you tell you all the things you need to know to get it right: Sun or shade, dry or moist, how high, how wide, when and what color of flower. Our informative and helpful staff is always happy to help you make choices and answer any questions.

And let us not forget roses, that very favorite of all shrubs. Swan River Gardens carries hardy shrub roses, tough and dependable for the Flathead Valley and easy to care for. New varieties such as ‘Morden Sunrise’ offer new colors like salmon and compact growth habits in the 2-3’ range. Disease resistant types like ‘Knockout’ are becoming very popular and proving their toughness year after year.

Be sure to visit the Swan River Gardens Retail Nursery Yard for plenty of ideas for using shrubs in your garden. You’ll be surprised how useful and versatile many shrubs can be!!!


P1060366Perennials are soft stemmed plants that return from their roots year after year. Swan River Gardens grows old garden favorites like peonies, daylilies, hosta and phlox along with many others. We grow nearly 500 different kinds of perennials so you are sure to find some that will work in any spot! New varieties come to the market every year and we always try to find room for some of those too. Some old plants like Coral Bells are being tinkered with all the time and the new varieties are a lot of fun to try.

Because perennials are permanent plantings, good site and soil preparation is a must. YouFanfare won’t get another chance so start these plants out right in good soil that will drain properly. Amend soil with compost so it is light and full of good things for the plants to spread roots out in. Healthy roots equal healthy plants in the long run. When you are ready to choose your plants, come see our design experts for ideas. We can help you choose the right plants for the amount of sun or shade your bed receives and show you plants that flower at different times so there is always something blooming. We will also help you arrange your choices for heights and habit that go together.

SRG May 29 2007 172While we think of perennials as permanent plantings, that does not mean maintenance is not necessary. Many kinds of perennials will benefit from regular deadheading, the removing of spent flowers, to continue blooming longer through the season. This is true of any of the Salvia’s for example. Other perennials need to be divided every few years to continue thriving. Siberian Iris will start to put fewer flowers out after 5-7 years and should be lifted and divided in spring. On the other hand, it is important to always let your perennial plantings grow undisturbed for at least three years before you do any dividing or moving. We use the phrase ‘sleep, creep & leap’ when describing perennial growth. Perennials ‘sleep’ the first year, showing very little change, ‘creep’ the second year, showing modest growth and ‘leap’ their third season, generally reaching mature height and spread.

Most perennials can be cut back to 2-3 inches in fall when frost has come along to knock the plant down. You can spread a 2-3 inch layer of compost on your perennial beds in either fall or spring to keep the soil healthy. If you are thinking about dividing any plants, the general rule is spring flowering plants get divided in fall and fall flowering plants get divided in spring. Remember though, this is a general rule. You can call us anytime you have questions and we are happy to help you!

Fruit Trees & Small Fruits

P1060946 Blueray From one tree in the backyard to a many fruit home orchard, you can get good local advice from the experts at Swan River Gardens. Because you should expect a fruit tree to live a long time, planting it in the right place with the right soil is very important. Fruit trees need to be sited where they will get a minimum of 6 hours of full sun each day. Fruit is mostly water so a site that you can get water to is also important.

Many fruits have specific needs for cross pollination and must be grown with companion trees that are selected for pollination. Cross pollination refers to two trees of the same fruit, such as Apple, but different varieties, Macintosh and Red Delicious for example. Some fruits are called ‘self fertile’. This means they do not need another tree of any kind to produce fruit. A number of plums such as Italian Prunes are self fertile whilestrawberry Earliglow pears never are. Cherry white backgroundCross pollination also applies to some small bush fruits. Blue Berries need two different varieties to set fruit while raspberries are self fertile and do not. The experts at Swan River Gardens select varieties that are compatible for you and can also offer advice for varieties you may already have.

fruit tree basics