Forrest Keeling grows over 97 varieties of seedlings, 122 varieties of RPM® potted liners, 22 species of oaks and 27 varieties of nut trees. We specialize in native plant material. Finished stock includes ornamental shrubs, evergreens, and caliper trees up to 3" in diameter.
Forrest Keeling represents over 65 years of knowledge and passion for bringing the best trees to its customers. The family-owned nursery specializes in native plant material and offers over 250 different species. Wayne Lovelace, Forrest Keeling president, is the developer of the world-renowned Root Production Method (RPM®) plant production system, a patented system that naturally produces faster growing, hardier plants. Finished stock includes ornamental shrubs, evergreens, and caliper trees up to three inches in diameter.
Forrest Keeling Yesterday: Our Early Years
Forrest Keeling was founded in 1960 by Hugh A. Steavenson. Steavenson, then manager of the U.S. Soil Conservation Nursery in Elsberry, began to grow a variety of species in the backyard of his father-in-law, Dr. Forrest Keeling.
Because of Dr. Keeling's love of gardening, the Nursery was named for the Elsberry physician. Steavenson's fledgling operation became a full-time operation on a 22-acre tract north of Elsberry and has grown to embrace 1,000 acres of prime agricultural ground south of Elsberry.
Although Forrest Keeling's rural location dictated its beginning as a retail mail-order nursery, rapid growth shifted emphasis to wholesale business and retail trade in the garden center only.
Wayne Lovelace, current President and CEO, with Hugh A. Steavenson, FKN founder. circa 1960
Forrest Keeling has an annual production of over four million seedlings, liner and transplant in more than 200 species. This production is efficiently and economically shipped from our central U.S. location to 49 states, and across borders to Canada and countries of Europe and Asia.
It is Forrest Keeling Nursery's mission to provide our customer with consistent, high quality plant materials, top-notch service and technical assistance to insure our products will continue to perform beyond expectations. The nursery has a stable work force of about 60 employees.
The local, family-owned nursery and community leader is newly focused on bringing their conservation expertise to home and farm habitats.
“Our Habitat Headquarters Collections are specially selected combinations of native wildflowers and grasses,” explained Kim Lovelace-Young, Forrest Keeling vice-president. “We want to make it easy, affordable and fun for home owners and landowners to work with nature to create beautiful, problem-solving landscapes.”
“Hardy native plants,” Kim continued, “evolved over centuries in their environment and provide important conservation benefits and wildlife needs. By adding wildflowers, for example, we can help support pollinators like the honeybee that are critical to our agricultural industry. Similarly, deep-rooted native grasses, shrubs and trees help reduce stormwater runoff and filter pollutants from our groundwater.”
Forrest Keeling has offered a garden center for years but has updated it and renamed it ‘Habitat Headquarters’ in honor of their emphasis on bringing working landscapes to homes and farms.
Wayne is also excited about bringing the Nursery’s conservation concepts to the general public. “From container sized to multi-acre, we have the ‘right recipe’ to help even the inexperienced create attractive, low-maintenance areas from the backyard to the back forty! You might say natives are a natural for easy-care landscapes.”
Forrest Keeling’s Habitat Headquarters Collections include:
“When you plant native plants,” Wayne concluded, “you’re a native hero! You and your native landscape will partner with the environment to conserve resources and provide needed food and cover.”