Boughen Nurseries 2016 Spring Plant Guide

100 Years

Many changes have occurred over the past 100 years. We’ve gone from digging powered by horses to digging powered by tractors equipped with vibrating diggers. In the old days, while pulling the tillers, the horses might take the occasional bite out of a plant or step sideways on another, adding to some frustration.

Our founder, W.J. Boughen driving the float.

We see a lot of changes in the selection of plants available. Many new and improved varieties of fruit have been developed. New apples like Norkent, Odyssey, Gemini, Red Sparkle Williams, and our own Boughen’s Delight improved the quality of apples grown in cold areas. But we also see many older developed varieties that are hard to beat and are still in favor: apples such as Battleford Goodland, Rescue and Minnesota 447 and plums such as Pembina, Dandy Manor and Conway Cherry.

The development of haskap and sour cherries has added to the fruit one can grow. Improvements of pears and raspberries have also occurred.

Many new varieties of shrubs have come into existence. Huge improvements have been made to hydrangeas, ninebark, dogwood, spirea, potentilla and roses.

From digging with horses to digging with tractors.Horticulture has thrived over the past 100 years and will continue to thrive with the Canadian Ornamental Plant Foundation helping breeders be reimbursed for their hard work.

The consumer will continue to get improved varieties to beautify their homes and add practical use to the environment.

In our 100th catalog we have many of these new varieties to offer. Look throughout the catalog and see the excellent selection of plants in its pages. Check out the many specials throughout the catalog.


Best wishes for a great gardening year,
The Boughens


100 Years of Excellence

In 2012, Boughen Nurseries of Valley River, Manitoba, celebrated 100 years of continuous family ownership and management, a laudable achievement in these times of buyouts and corporate mergers.

The company was started back in 1912 by William James Boughen, who had come to Manitoba in 1891 looking for opportunity. He built a successful business and its operations were later taken over and carried on by William's son, Russell Macoun Boughen who, along with this wife, Ada Cooke Boughen, are both still alive at 90, living in an apartment in Dauphin. The company is today operated by their sons, Ron and Chris.

Boughen Nurseries can take a lot of pride on its Manitoba introductions, particularly, their 'Skybound' Cedar and 'Charisma' lilac. They also introduced the 'Silver Charm' dogwood, the 'Kirk' apple and 'Boughen's Delight' apple, all winners in the hardy category.

Things have changed a lot over the past century. "When I was a kid in the 50s," said Ron Boughen, "we still sold cream, chickens, beef cows and barley. We also had over 200 honey bee hives." Ron said that in the thirties, Boughen sold two-pound packages of honey bees for $3.25 (including a queen) and shipped them in the mail to their customers.

You could get a collection of six hardy roses for only $3.25, "postpaid" in 1930. Boughen even sold Holstein calves for $40 a piece through the catalogue.

Cattle and large trees were shipped by C.N.R. "at the purchaser's risk."

Back in the day, W.J. Boughen was something of a Canadian leader in the horticultural field. He was also a good marketer, telling his catalogue readers back in 1932, "We are short on stock and will only be able to supply early orders."

In 1920, he was appointed Horticultural Explorer for Canada and charged with travelling from Fort William, Ontario to Peace River, Alberta "looking for native plants that might be adapted to garden use." He noted with some pride. "I took note of all fruit plantations that I came across in the area and saw no plantations that then surpassed ours at Valley River."

He won many awards and prizes, especially for his hardy fruit. They sold hardy pears, plums, apples, pincherries, cherry-plums, black, white and red currants, strawbewrries, chokecherries and raspberries as well as flower and vegetable seeds.

W. J. was passionate about hardiness, calling it the "Jewel of the North" and noting that it was "of more value than all the minerals including gold".

His values and passions were passed on down to his grandsons who today operate the nursery from the same ethic. Ron inherited his love of discovery and the development of new stock.

Congratulations to Boughen Nurseries for their many achievements and contributions to Canada's garden industry over the past 100 years.


Dorothy Dobbie
The Gardener on CJOB and Publisher
of Manitoba Gardener magazine