Glen Saint Mary Nurseries Company was at one time the largest citrus producer in the country. Taber planted the first citrus trees shortly after he founded the nursery, and he began experimentation almost at once. He introduced the first kumquats to the nursery in 1885, the first satsumas in 1888, and the Lue Gim Gong orange in 1910, among many other notable varieties.
The Great Freezes of 1894 and 1895 devastated many nurseries across the South. Two consecutive freezes, one on December 29, 1894, and another on February 7, 1895, destroyed much of the state's citrus industry and reduced citrus production in Florida from “six million boxes of fruit per season… to just 100,000 boxes.” 1 A warm, wet winter made the citrus trees especially vulnerable to the freezes. Because citrus was Florida's primary industry at the time, the state's economy suffered; banks, packing houses, farms, and nurseries across the state closed as businesses failed. Many nurserymen and farmers sold their land and either moved back North or further South.
Glen Saint Mary Nurseries survived the freezes and continued to grow and sell citruses. Taber encouraged nurserymen across the state to remain with their businesses and try to replant their groves. The freezes prompted him to experiment with freeze-resistant plant varieties, especially citruses. In 1888, Taber began cultivating the Owari Satsuma, a resilient orange variety, but it was not until the 1905-1906 season that the nursery began to experiment with and mass-produce them; that season the nursery exported 10 carloads of satsuma oranges by train. The Owari Satsumas, along with the Lue Gim Gong orange introduced around 1910, were largely popular because they were more freeze-resistant than other orange varieties. Taber's efforts to develop freeze-resistant citruses were largely successful, and the nursery's citrus department flourished. Over the years, as customers' interests shifted toward ornamental plants, the nursery grew fewer citruses and focused instead on decorative plants. Satsuma and kumquat groves remain on the nursery today, but they are no longer produced for profit. 2
Satsumas are a small, sweet, hardy, and nearly seedless mandarin variety which grows well in North Florida's cooler climate ...
Kumquats, meaning “golden orange” in Chinese, are a small citrus variety which originated in South Asia. They were imported to the U.S. in ...
Lue Gim Gong Orange
The introduction of the Lue Gim Gong Orange marked “the beginning of a new era in late Orange culture” for the Glen Saint Mary ...
- Quotation from “Nursery and Seed Catalogs: Glen Saint Mary Nurseries.”
- Sources: Miller 4; Moser 166; “Nursery and Seed Catalogs: Glen Saint Mary Nurseries”; “NRHPRF” sec. 8 pp. 1-2; “The Glen Saint Mary Nurseries, of Florida” 148-149; “George L. Taber, Pioneer”; “George L. Taber, Family Man and Businessman”;Copeland and Armitage 173; Glen Saint Mary Nurseries Company, 1910 55, Andrews.