Tree Lovers of Nashville: Bryan Shelton

Where does Root Nashville get our trees? We work with experts in the field. Read about our friend and partner Bryan Shelton of Tennessee Tree and Shrub in this Q&A.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your business and what you do.

A: After managing two local nurseries/garden centers, I decided that I could sell plant material and landscape materials from the house. I was the procurer for both of the nursery operations I worked for and had contacts all over Tennessee and the surrounding region, so it seemed possible to direct-ship everything a landscaper or DIY homeowner would need straight to them from these nurseries. So Tennessee Tree and Shrub works just like a store, just without the brick and mortar – it’s totally mobile and fluid. 

Q: What do you love about working outside, and being around trees?

A: Where I grew up in Hendersonville, we had about two acres of wooded property. After spending most of my childhood outside, I knew that I wanted to work outdoors. I even wanted to be a park ranger in my early high school days. My first job was at Opryland theme park, and after I got into agriculture classes in high school, I worked summers mowing grass and weekends at a local garden center during the school year. I really fell in love with plants during this time, writing out the signs for plants in the nursery and reading Dirr and Southern Living Plant books. With both of my boys in club soccer I volunteer as a manager for their teams and grounds maintenance at Beech High soccer field, really just doing anything that can keep me busy outside.

Q: What are some of the common misconceptions around trees or tree planting that you see?

A: I really try to educate my customers about putting trees and shrubs in the right place.  Plants have habits and for the most part stay true to those habits.  I don’t like to see overplanting, and I do what I can to help folks plant what they want, but not too much of it.  Most of our installation jobs are where a builder or someone has just thrown in whatever looked good at the nursery and didn’t pay any attention to how those plants grow, what light they need, water requirements, etc. 

Q: If you had to choose one, what is your favorite tree, and why?

A: The Tulip Poplar. It’s the Tennessee state tree! But I love the shape of the leaf, its bright green color, and of course the creamy-orange flower in summer. It’s really hard to choose, though. Tennessee has so many trees to enjoy season to season. I absolutely adore dogwoods, and the redbuds blooming along the highways in the spring. Fall color is also spectacular here. 

Q: How have you seen Nashville grow and change?

A: It’s been a great experience to watch Nashville grow. I remember going to a PGMS meeting at the Titans stadium when it was being built and watching them sod it. Delivering trees to East Nashville after the ’98 tornado and seeing that area grow and rebuild, and I’m excited to help that community again after the tornado damage earlier this year. And it’s been a great experience to work with you guys at Cumberland River Compact, the folks at Nashville Tree Foundation, and also our tree sale with Nashville Tree Conservation Corps. Moving thousands of trees to homes, parks, churches, and schools is like living a dream every day.

Tree Lovers of Nashville is a series to highlight the amazing advocates and supporters of trees in our city. Want to nominate someone for an interview and blog post? Send a message to meg.morgan@cumberlandrivercompact.org. 

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