Tucked away on a 100-acre property in Bullsbrook is one of the largest, and most technically advanced tree growers in Australia. Ellenby Tree Farm has been in business for 35 years and has been at the forefront of changes in their industry during that time. Their demonstrated commitment to an environmentally-sustainable approach to tree growing is impressive and has earned them an EcoHort certification from the Nursery Growers’ Industry Australia.
The farm utilises solar panels and their workers even traverse the property on bicycle! The quality of their compost mulch, made of recycled organic material, can be perceived by even the most novice of gardeners — rich in aroma and soft under foot when walking the rows between trees. A portion of the property is to be retained as bush forever, with a wetland on the south side, and the north side to be used as an arboretum — a garden devoted to growing trees for conservation, research and education. The company use an integrated pest management system for controlling pests — an environmentally sensitive and pesticide-free way to keep the trees bug free.
Ellenby Tree Farm grows over 400 different types of trees at 3 different locations — 100 acres in Bullsbrook, 10 acres in West Swan and 8 acres at Wanneroo. The demand for exotic trees in our dry climate is still strong, although consumers are now more eco-conscious of their choices. Sales manager Craig Woodroffe explains, “The type of trees that people want has changed. When we first started, we were primarily a deciduous tree grower . Now we are probably 60% focused on West Australian and Australian trees. The demand has also driven a change for more sustainable and water-wise trees.”
Providing a strong foundation for growth is a key component of Ellenby’s success. “We use air-pruned propagation and we focus heavily on the development of the root system. We also do in-ground production and for a lot of trees, particularly deciduous, that’s really good because the roots can develop out and there’s no chance of root circling,” says Craig. They have stock ranging from 500mm to 10 metres tall, and have 10 acres of farmland dedicated to growing premium 15-20-year-old trees.
They also have procedures and infrastructure in place to handle the unique climatic conditions of the region. Craig says, “It’s pretty windy out here, so compared to a lot of tree growers in WA we have a fairly substantial railing system to handle the wind. There is also the spike in temperatures that needs to be managed, going from low 30’s to a 42-degree day. That sudden change in temperature can stress out a lot of trees.”
Ellenby Tree Farm are a key employer in the area and prefer to buy local when possible. “We employ a lot of local inhabitants, probably around fifty percent of our team are from the Bullsbrook catchment area, in positions ranging from general labourers, to construction, and office administration. We also aim to support other local businesses when possible.” said Craig
As the autumn cool descends and a lush green slowly returns to the landscape, you may be inspired to rejuvenate your garden or property with some new plant life. Safe from the harsh conditions of summer and with watering-in provided by Mother Nature, it is an optimum time to invest in a new tree or two, grown in the conditions of our region.