Welcome to Maple Ridge Musings!
Hello and welcome to Maple Ridge Musings, the new blog presented by Maple Ridge Nursery. This will be a weekly blog discussing the goings on at the nursery, new trees as well as old favorites, as well as relevant topics that warrant discussion. This first blog post will be an introduction not only to this new blog, but also an introduction of our nursery, our family, and myself.
My name is Michael Francis Jr, born and raised right here in Atlanta, Georgia. I suppose I am technically a fourth-generation nurseryman, but it did skip a generation with my grandparents. Though it could be even more, because I’m not sure what my great-great grandparents did for a living. My parents founded our nursery a few years before I was born, and I grew up next door to the nursery, so I have quite literally grown up around plants. Somewhat surprisingly, I did not have an innate love for plants or the outdoors, but I have grown a passion for Japanese Maples that makes me love every day at the nursery.
Greenhouse Nursery Inc. and The Maple Farm were founded in 1989 by my parents, Mike and Christy Francis. This was our name until 2007, when we changed it to what everyone knows now as Maple Ridge Nursery. The nursery steadily evolved from a little garden center to one of the largest growers of Japanese Maples in the Southeast. Around 2007 is when we completed the specialization transformation. This move was risky at the time but has proven to be key in our success ever since.
Maple Ridge Nursery has always and continues to be a family business. My great grandfather started a nursery at our current location on Covington Hwy back in the 60’s. My parents took over in 1989 and the nursery has been continuously run by our family ever since. 2015 was the lowest point in our company’s history when my father, Mike Francis, unexpectedly passed away. Our family and our company were in shambles. I had never really had intentions of running the nursery at that point, and my mother didn’t want to do it alone. After many months of discussion and soul searching, I joined the nursery full time in 2016 and haven’t looked back.
These days, we are as much of a family operation as ever. My daughter, Sophia, is just over a year old now and can be found running around all over the nursery on a daily basis. On any given weekend, you may have my wife, Marleigh, helping you find the perfect tree; my sisters, Aly and Reilly, may be running the register; and my stepdad, Joe, is instrumental during Christmas Tree season and is probably fixing something somewhere as I write this. It is an all-around family effort that helps us grow the best trees and provide the best service to you.
I believe my mother, Christy, and I have put the nursery in an excellent position over the past few years. We have added to our collection and increased propagation on all our trees, giving you the best selection of Japanese Maples that I have ever seen at the nursery. While still very small, we have one of the best, most knowledgeable staffs that we have ever employed. I also truly believe that we are just scratching the surface of what we can be as a nursery and as a company. My hope is that this blog can help personify our nursery and offer a glimpse into our thoughts and our love for these wonderful trees.