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Allyson Levy and Scott Serrano on the wealth of options for cold hardy fruit and nut trees


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There are so many interesting perspectives to approach this topic from and today we’re going to hear from two people who turned a personal love of plants into a thriving botanical garden and nursery. 

Allyson Levy and Scott Serrano started creating a botanical garden in their backyard 22 years ago by planting native trees, shrubs, perennials and unusual edibles. Soon after they became interested in bog plants, hardy cacti, woodland species and non-native trees as well. T

ogether they fenced in 3 acres, made tags to identify the species they had, and recorded what they planted over the past decade with the intention of one day being a public garden and an educational resource. 

Jump to today and the Hortus Arboretum and Botanical Garden boast an amazing collection of both native and exotic species. They also propagate rare and unusual plants from their collection to sell, to help spread plant diversity around. 

In all of this variety Allyson and Scott have discovered a wide range of fruit and nut species that can thrive in their cold New York climate, and that’s exactly what we focused on in this interview. 

Their new book, “Cold-Hardy Fruits and Nuts” is a one-stop compendium of the most productive, edible fruit-and nut-bearing crops that push the boundaries of what can survive winters in cold-temperate growing regions. While most nurseries and guidebooks feature plants that are riddled with pest problems (such as apples and peaches), Allyson and Scott focus on both common and unfamiliar fruits that have few, if any, pest or disease problems and an overall higher level of resilience.

In this interview we cover a wide range of information from the unique and hardy plants that do well in cold-temperate climates themselves, but also their amazing journey of discovering them. 

We also talk a lot of practical plant care techniques, design and placement considerations, and then we get going into the world of plant nurseries and all their discoveries about propagation and managing the business side. 

This was such a fun discussion and I’m already looking forward to the next time I can speak with Allyson and Scott, so if you are left at any point during this interview with more questions, be sure to reach out to me so I can get them answered for you the next time I get them on this show. 

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