NEWSLETTER: Desert Northwest New Plant List and Open House!

Dear Plantfolk,

Hooray, “fall” rains are here! There may technically be one more day of summer but it no longer feels summer-like out there. We got a whopping 0.07” of the wet stuff this week so far in Sequim, which barely counts for anything, but almost anyone reading this will have had more.

In any case, this is when we tell you it’s time to start planting again, even if there was nothing wrong with planting earlier. So, we want to welcome you to come out and shop this weekend as we will be open on Friday and Saturday for our final open house of the year. Directions and details may be found here. As always, if you can’t make it, we welcome you to e-mail us for an appointment to visit the nursery on another day.

Appended to this email Coming SOON to the web site you will find our latest availability and price list, which is, as the saying goes, hot off the press! (Or you can e-mail me for a copy.) Note that this is only for the mail-order stock: there is a lot MORE out there in 1 gallon and larger sizes that is not listed. We hope to attend to that next. In the meantime getting on top of the mail-order list feels like an accomplishment since it’s the first step to getting the web site up to date again. Note also, VERY importantly, that the prices are $3 off the listed price when you buy the plants on site!

Picking out a few highlights from the list, Arctostaphylos x media is available again, as people keep asking about it. This attractive native plant, a hybrid of hairy manzanita and kinnikkinnik, does so well here and is attractive at all seasons and completely drought resistant, yet remains underused in gardens. Then we have a respectable selection of Ceanothus from groundcovers to large shrubs. They are in little pots but they grow FAST and it may be better to plant them at a small size for quick establishment. These are also very drought tolerant once established and in fact tend to prefer drier sites.

Our Grevillea selection is looking good with a couple items back on the list that have been absent for a long time, like G. lanigera and G. x gaudichaudii. We don’t expect these to last long; in fact this is the first time the latter has made it to my mail-order list before selling out at shows. Finally, the nine Eucalyptus selections listed are more than we have had in years. We had run out of E. regnans but now a new crop is ready. If you didn’t know, this is the world’s tallest tree that isn’t a conifer (or perhaps the tallest, period, but that’s up for debate). Since not all of us have room in our garden for a 370′ tree, we also offer smaller species like E. gregsoniana which, unlike some Eucalyptus, can be relied on not to exceed 20 – 25′ tall in cultivation, or E. pulverulenta, which we grew from seed I collected from an odd tree in Seattle that was more horizontal than vertical. E. nobilis, on the other hand, is another giant, a recently described member of the white gum group (referring to the smooth white bark) that grows at high altitudes in northeastern New South Wales. You can be among the first to try it in the Northwest!

Do you have deer? We’ll tell you what you can plant that they actually won’t eat. A good starter list would include Leptospermum, Ozothamnus, Olearia, Callistemon, Luma, Myrtus, and any of the Grevilleas with small leaves. This would be so much easier if only deer read the right books, but we can say they will leave these alone from our years of experience.

In other news, germination has been pretty good on most of the Yucca and Agave seed I planted this summer. I’m excited that next year we’ll be able to offer many of these again for the first time in years, though at this point they do need to grow on for a bit. I also started a selection of cacti, almost all cold-hardy species, from seed; especially from genera like Echinocereus and Trichocereus. These are a bit of a challenge to maintain and grow on to salable size, so wish me luck! If they make it they will be a great addition to our selection of offerings somewhere down the road.

Did you know that we propagate and produce 100% of our own nursery stock? When you buy from us, you are not just getting plants from a national chain that sells (often as a loss leader) whatever is easiest to propagate and has the shortest production time,while failing to provide expert advice to the buyer. Rather you are personally supporting a small family business in which we know our plants because we grow everything we sell. We appreciate your business, and we look forward to seeing you this weekend or at another time. Happy fall!

Ian Barclay
The Desert Northwest
PO Box 3475
Sequim, WA 98382
http://www.desertnorthwest.com
mail@desertnorthwest.com

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And then we have the previous newsletter from early August, which for some reason I managed not to post on my blog at the time.  Oh well; I’m trying to catch up:

Dear Plant Enthusiasts,

It’s that time again! This weekend, on Friday and Saturday (August 11 and 12), we will be open for business here at the nursery in Sequim. Come on out and see what’s new! Yes, there are some exciting new plants that are not on the web site yet. Also I had better mention once again that we can now process your debit and credit card, though we will still happily accept cash or a check. Directions to the nursery may be found here.

It’s too hot to plant, you say? Well, it’s true that things like Rhododendrons or ferns have to be handled with care at the peak of summer. But most of our plants can take the heat, and we grow them “tough,” erring on the side of more sun exposure, and not too much fertilizer, to produce strong plants. It is actually a fine time to plant anything you don’t mind watering from now until the fall rains arrive.

Most importantly, weather like this is really not that unusual (except that annoying smoke—that can go away any time please). Every summer it’s dry, and every summer we have a week or two of hot weather. So this weather is your annual reminder that water-wise plants such as those we grow make sense, and everyone ought to be using more of them!

Last time I managed to lure some of you in here by promoting just one very cool plant, Grevillea x ‘Neil Bell’. We had a huge crop of these this year, so although we sold quite a few, there are still plenty available for everyone. They are now growing so large in their 4” pots they could make full 1-gallons. Grevillea victoriae ‘Murray Valley Queen’ is back, which we haven’t had in a couple years. Truly one of the best Grevilleas, it starts blooming in the fall and doesn’t stop until spring! It is much more showy than the “usual” form of G. victoriae, being covered in large flowers.

If that doesn’t grab you, we have a great selection of Leptospermum right now including a large crop of ‘Eugene Hardy’ in 4” pots. This makes a great hedge plant with pretty foliage and flowers, and the deer won’t eat it. Speaking of things the deer won’t eat, Ozothamnus hookeri ‘Sussex Silver’ and Olearia x oleifolia ‘Wakairiensis’ are also looking fine. Some little hardy Eucalyptus trees of various species are coming along; they are not quite ready to sell yet but they sure are cute.

It has been an exciting summer here at the Desert Northwest. Although I haven’t done much with the web site lately, I have been busy with the nursery. I have started many more plants from seed this year than I have in several years. Seed is more expensive than it used to be, but I can collect some of my own; also, some old seed I have lying around is still viable. So there are a lot of Agaves and Yuccas in the pipeline as well as Eucalyptus and other random stuff. Hopefully even a few hardy Acacias which we haven’t sold in years. Things like Puya, Dudleya, Nolina and Banksia are germinating now.

In late July I took a quick trip to Vancouver Island, where I got to see some really remarkable gardens maintained by serious plant collectors. I also visited a number of nurseries. I have uploaded photo albums from each visit to Facebook, and set them to “public” so you should be able to view them even without a Facebook account. Check out the links below, and I think you’ll be impressed! Each one opens a different photo album.

Garden of Jeff St.Gelais, Victoria, BC
Garden of Judith McLauchlan, Victoria BC
Garden of Graham Smyth, Victoria BC
Garden of Cal Mateer, Victoria BC
“Vanisle Bamboo” garden in Comox BC
Valley Succulents, Comox, BC
Comox, BC public plantings
Vancouver Island Nurseries

However, another purpose of this trip was to explore the possibility of marketing plants to customers in British Columbia in the future. We hope to pull that together by this time next year. So far we have not offered this service, for reasons I won’t go into here. There are, of course, certain regulations that complicate the process of bringing plants across international borders. Numerous plants do cross the border under the appropriate regulations, but it is easier for larger nurseries that have the resources to stay on top of this. Anyway, we’ll see what we can come up with, so stay tuned for that.

We look forward to seeing you this weekend, if you can make it to Sequim!

Ian Barclay
The Desert Northwest
PO Box 3475
Sequim, WA 98382
http://www.desertnorthwest.com
mail@desertnorthwest.com

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Seeds for Sale!

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Here’s a fun fact.  Years ago, before I actually started the nursery, I spent a period of time collecting and selling seeds.  I now view that as an endeavor that was perhaps not viable on its own, but could be a good complement to the nursery for certain items.

Over the years my opportunities to collect more seeds fizzled out, and eventually I had to take the seed list off the web site rather than sell seed that was getting old and may not be viable.  However I am now compelled to resume seed sales again.  The main catalyst for this was that several large eucalypts came down last winter in the snow, which were all loaded with seed that I would not have been able to reach otherwise.  But even before that happened I had an interest in getting back into seed sales and had started collecting a few things.  I am now ready to go with all the seed pre-packaged, which helps me to be more organized.

So we’re getting off to a modest start, with a relatively small list for now.  When I really get going with this I will add the seed list to the web site, but for now I’m posting it here on the blog only.

The prices listed are, of course, per packet.  These are small packets of seeds, containing at least 30-40 seeds except as noted. Of course for things with tiny seeds like Callistemon there are a lot more seeds than that.  All of the seed was locally collected in western Washington by me personally, within the last six months (as of this writing), and has been properly kept in cold storage to maintain viability.

Banksia canei (packet of 15 personally inspected seeds) – $8
Buddleja globosa – $6
Callistemon pityoides- $6
Callistemon subulatus- $6
Callistemon viridiflorus (hardy form)- $7
Callistemon sp ‘Woodlanders Hardy’- $6
Eucalyptus neglecta- $6
Eucalyptus parvula- $6
Eucalyptus pauciflora subsp niphophila- $6
Eucalyptus praecox- $7
Eucalyptus rodwayi- $6
Eucalyptus stellulata- $6
Eucalyptus subcrenulata- $6
Leptospermum juniperinum (Mt Imlay NSW)- $6
Leptospermum rupestre (upright form)- $6
Leptospermum scoparium (Washington Park)- $6

To order, print off the order form and mail it with payment to The Desert Northwest, PO Box 3475, Sequim, WA 98382.  Shipping for seeds is free for domestic (USA) orders of $20 or greater; orders under $20 and all international orders please add $3 for shipping.

A couple items deserve special mention.  Banksia canei is one of the hardiest Banksias, called “mountain Banksia” and occurring in subalpine regions in the wild.  It is almost never seen in cultivation, but I have a few in the greenhouse that I grew from seed 11 years ago, that have now flowered and set seed.  The flowers are yellow and they are very nice.  Eucalyptus praecox is interesting because it has lived through all the cold winters in Olympia (remarkably, considering it is not terribly cold where this thing grows in nature) but is virtually unheard of in gardens.  Older references list it as a subspecies of E. mannifera.  It is a pretty medium sized tree (to 50′ or so) with a smooth trunk.

Hopefully I’ll be able to continue adding to this list as time goes on!

Grevillea ‘Neil Bell’ at the Desert Northwest OPEN HOUSE this weekend!

Dear Plant Friends,

Since you don’t have enough plants, we are open for business this Friday and Saturday, June 23 and 24, from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. You can find directions to our nursery here (please pardon last year’s open house dates still up there).

We still have all kinds of Grevilleas, Callistemons, Ozothamnuses, Leptospermums, Olearias, Podocarpuses, Cupressuses, Arctostaphyloses, Cistuses, Quercuses, Delospermas, hardy cacti, and all the usual suspects; but this time I’m just going to highlight one plant, which (as you will have guessed) is Grevillea x ‘Neil Bell’. If you don’t have this Grevillea, you are missing out. It is a large and fast-growing evergreen shrub to 8′ x 8′ with BIG orange-red flowers. It blooms for months, including most of the winter, and hummingbirds flock to it. Compared to the usual form of G. victoriae, the leaves are a bit smaller, the flowers are larger and more numerous, it is somewhat more deer resistant, it grows a bit faster, and (importantly) it is much more drought tolerant. It is rock-solid hardy, having breezed through 5 degrees F unharmed in the Portland area.

As for the history of this plant, Grevillea x ‘Neil Bell’ originated as a chance seedling at Xera Plants, a Portland area nursery, and was selected by owner Paul Bonine who recognized its superior qualities. It almost certainly has some of G. victoriae in its ancestry, but it’s hard to guess what else it might have crossed with—possibly another hybrid Grevillea cultivar. Paul named it for Neil Bell, who manages the trial gardens at the North Willamette Experiment Station south of Portland, where various genera of plants have been under evaluation to observe their long-term performance in the Pacific Northwest (see this web site). Our cuttings come from the garden of Mike Lee, formerly the owner of Colvos Creek Nursery. We’re making this highly desirable and easily grown yet exotic shrub available for just $14 each in the 4” pot size.

Lots of newly potted little plants are coming along, so come on out and see what else is growing! When you visit our nursery you are certain to find rare and interesting plants none of your neighbors have. And it promises to be a nice weekend with beautiful weather to visit the Olympic Peninsula and hike, or even hit the beach. We hope to see you this weekend!

Ian Barclay
The Desert Northwest
PO Box 3475
Sequim, WA 98382
mail@desertnorthwest.com
http://www.desertnorthwest.com

Here are a couple photos of ‘Neil Bell’… the plant not the person.  Unfortunately it was not quite in peak bloom at the time of this photo; also, this plant has been trimmed back repeatedly to keep it out of the path.

Desert Northwest Newsletter: OPEN HOUSE this weekend!

Dear Plant Friends,

Sometimes we wait until the last minute to announce important events around here, and we didn’t want to disappoint anyone this time around by being inconsistent. So come one, come all to our first open house of the year this weekend. As usual we’re making it a Friday and Saturday event with the hours being 9:30 to 5:30. It promises to be a beautiful weekend too! Directions may be found here: (And if you see any 2016 dates on that page, disregard them because we’re in the process of fixing that this weekend.)

Another thing we can disregard is that old fashioned “cash or check only” stuff. We have now finally moved into the 21st century with credit card payment being available. Some people around here thought they would never see that happen. We won’t say who.

So how is the nursery looking these days, you might be wondering? Well what usually happens is that things start off nicely in early spring, but then everything goes off the rails as soon as I start going around to all these regional plant sales and being away from the nursery. This year things did not start off so great because it was frigidly cold right into the second week of March. As announced earlier, I cut back on those sales, but some other commitments came up which also used up a good deal of time. So the nursery as usual doesn’t look perfect, though it has received some needed attention in the last couple weeks. So it’s still, shall we say, navigable.

On the positive side, I hit it really hard early this spring with potting up the new and cool stuff (even in the cold early on). So the result of that is, there are TONS OF PLANTS out there, especially in the smaller sizes. This is not one of those years where I’m feeling low on nursery stock. And of course, half of the new stuff isn’t listed on the web site by now, since I haven’t had time get that updated lately. We’ll get there.

So for now we’ll just have to tell you about some of the cool new stuff, which may or may not be on the web site, but mostly not. To start with we have TONS of Olearias. I mean about every kind you could want right now. They are the perfect plants for the coast since they love cool weather and wind. They also make pretty flowers (two species being fragrant) and deer don’t eat them. I tried to sell them all last weekend at that Grays Harbor sale, but for some reason I still have plenty left over.

Also in the New Zealand department, some new Hebes are ready including ‘White Gem’, H. anomala, and the purple flowered ‘Purple Shamrock’ and ‘Autumn Glory’. A new crop of Carmichaelia australis is ready– this intriguing plant looks like a mass of growing green sticks, though ours are a bit leafy at the moment. Then we have a unique form of Muehelenbeckia complexa with much larger leaves than usual. It comes from Three Kings Island off the NZ coast, but is perfectly hardy. And finally if you’re in the market for a 1-gallon Corokia cotoneaster you need look no further than our nursery.

I just went through all the conifers and got them organized (have to admit I found a few things I thought were were sold out of). Nearly everything listed on our site is still out there, with a couple exceptions. Lagarostrobos franklinii and Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Chilworth Silver’ are looking fine. Araucaria angustifolia is still available and a recently potted crop of Juniperus ‘Gold Cone’ is showing its yellow new growth. If you need a Fitzroya cupressoides (and who doesn’t?), you’d better hurry since we only have ten 1-gallons left!

In the Australian department, it’s pretty fun to watch plants like Leptospermum sericeum, L. humifusum, Callistemon viridiflorus and several others blooming in their little pots. They don’t always do that but I guess I struck just the right balance of how mean to be to them without making them die. Then we have a great looking crop of Lomatia fraseri, a rainforest-dwelling Protea relative that is totally hardy and has large white flowerheads. Some new (and returning) Grevilleas are in the pipeline, including ‘Neil Bell’ which are a bit on the small side but I think they are ready enough to sell. This one looks a lot like ‘Marshall Olbrich’ but with larger leaves and flowers, and improved vigor, drought resistance and frost-hardiness. It is a real winner!

In the western native department, 1 gallons of Arctostaphylos densiflora ‘Howard McMinn’ are still looking good. If you’re new to manzanita this is one of the most popular selections and easiest to grow. A lot of the newly potted stuff still isn’t ready yet, but here are a few things that are: Two new (to us) Ceanothus, ‘Italian Skies’ with masses of light blue flowers and ‘Joyce Coulter’, and older cultivar with mid-blue flowers and a spreading habit, that grows very quickly! We also have our native Penstemon fruticosus, and a Penstemon barrettiae hybrid (the other parent being unknown). And this is your chance to get a newly germinated Aesculus californica which look awesome.

Now to top off the list with a bunch of really random things. We haven’t carried the South African Buddleja loricata or B. salvifolia for years, but now they are back. Looking similar to B. loricata is B. araucana from Chile, which is also out there. In the Mediterranean department we may as well mention new crops of the extremely floriferous Cistus ‘Chelsea Bonnett’, along with Teucrium fruticans ‘Azureum’, Myrtus communis ‘Andy Van Helvengen’ (a cold hardy myrtle selection) and Quercus trojana, a Mediterranean oak. And finally, I bet you didn’t know we had Hypericum henryi from Vietnam, or Cinnamomum glanduliferum, a beautiful broadleaf evergreen tree that I can’t remember if it’s from China or Japan. (Better look that one up!) Anyway it’s impressively hardy with a rather subtropical look. And if all that stuff grows too large for you, we could still sell you a nice hairy Sempervivum like S. arachnoiderum x pittoni, or the fabulous S. ‘Witchery’. Well that was quite a paragraph. But now I’m done.

If you read that far, you have a feel for what kinds of plants to expect around here. Most of what’s on the web site is still available too in some form, though we may be down to low numbers. Anyway, we look forward to seeing you, whether it be this weekend at the open house, or at a later appointment or at one of the sales and events we participate in.

Happy spring!

Ian

See Us This Weekend at the RSBG Sale in Federal Way! Also, 2017 Schedule of Sales and Events

I’m a little late as usual, but I think we’ve finally sorted out what events we have planned for the season and when, so here they are. Not listed is the Sequim Garden Show, which was announced in the previous blog post and via e-mail, and has already passed us by. It was the third weekend of March and went pretty well as always. We thank those of you who came out to see us for that event.

As usual, a complete list of events we are participating in is followed by my commentary:

April 14-15 (This weekend!) – RSBG Spring Plant Sale in Federal Way.  See also this list of vendors.

May 20-21: Grays Harbor Home and Garden Show, Elma. See also this site.  Map to the Fairgrounds Event Center where this show takes place.

May 26-27: Spring Open House here at the nursery in Sequim.

June 23-24: Early Summer Open House here at the nursery in Sequim.

July 22: Plant Sale at Heronswood Garden, Kingston.

August 11-12: Mid Summer Open House here at the nursery in Sequim.

September 9: Salem Hardy Plant Society Sale, Salem, Oregon.

September 16: Plant Sale at Heronswood Garden, Kingston.

September 22-23: Fall Open House here at the nursery in Sequim.

This weekend there is really way too much going on. First there is the RSBG Spring Plant Sale in Federal Way this Friday (tomorrow) and Saturday, which is the most important one since we will be there (ha ha). But there is also Hortlandia, the huge HPSO sale in Portland (Saturday-Sunday) which draws plant geeks from all over the Northwest, and the NARGS (Rock Garden Society) spring plant sale (Saturday only). I wish we could be at all three. So how is a plant nut to choose? Well I have the answer: Go to the RSBG sale Friday (first!), the NARGS sale Saturday, and Hortlandia Sunday (if your April plant budget isn’t exhausted by then). Problem solved. Fortunately, I’ve given you an entire half day of notice to plan all this out.

Our next event is the Grays Harbor Home and Garden Show in Elma, Coming up on May 20-21. This is a new event for us, but of course we like to try almost anything once. I’ll bring fewer manzanitas and succulents, and lots of plants that love the coast, like Olearia, Leptospermum and conifers. Despite our nursery name we actually sell an extensive range of plants that do great with high rainfall. Some of you may recall that I grew up in Olympia, and tested a lot of plants there that we still produce and sell. We thank John Kugen for connecting us with the organizer for this event.

The Salem Hardy Plant Society sale was the first we might have considered dropping, due to the travel distance/expense (and we didn’t do as well in 2016 as previous years). But this year they are moving to a new location closer to I-5 (Seabright Gardens). So we’re sticking with it, since the new venue may bring in more people, especially from the Portland area; and because if we drop it we’ll have no events in Oregon in 2017, which would be unfortunate. This is a great chance for you Portland folks who will miss us at Hortlandia to send in your special requests and take advantage of our expanded inventory, which is at its most diverse in late summer!

Now for the usual review of what are we not doing, and why? I feel like this is important just so people don’t wonder if we are out of business or dropped off the face of the earth or something. The big one of course is Hortlandia. After skipping it in 2015, we were back last year and it did about as well as usual. This year our main reason for skipping it is the schedule conflict with the RSBG sale (according to my notes, this was also an issue in 2015). The RSBG sale makes more sense for us in terms of travel expenses, less time away from the nursery, and seeing people who only come to that sale. We regret that we can’t be at Hortlandia and hope to return next year.

We missed a Heronswood sale on April 1st, and there will be another on May 13-14 we have decided not to attend, and leave a space open for someone else. The reason for this, as I noted on my January 5th blog post, is that we need to spend enough time at the nursery to stay on top of things here. I have come to realize that when I spend too much time away from the nursery in the spring, I start getting behind on projects to where things snowball out of control. So I’m trying not to let that happen this year (also the reason I haven’t been spending as much time online since March). You also have to consider that each plant sale doesn’t just “use up” the day(s) of the sale itself, but also basically an additional whole day required to prepare for it, and a couple hours unloading and putting away what doesn’t sell at the end. If I do three sales in April (as in last year) the amount of time consumed really adds up!

So with Heronswood sales in July and September we can still hope to be invited to, we thought it made sense to drop the spring events at Heronswood.

The Gig Harbor Garden Tour was pleasant and well managed. But we learned it is not the right venue for selling our products (no money lost, just time), so we are not participating this year. I highly recommend this event for anyone who wants to see some impressive and well-tended gardens. Many of the garden art vendors bring creative and beautiful pieces to this event as well.

And I think those are about all the changes from last year. Changes we made further back have been discussed in previous blog posts and can be read about by scrolling back to find them.

And yes, we did add one open house this year from the usual three. Well, sort of: technically we had four last year, only the last one, in late October, wasn’t announced until September. This year we managed to plan them all out in advance on dates that make sense, concluding that people aren’t thinking that much about planting by late October (even if they should be). If we can catch a few more people that way, that will be great; and at the rate I am potting stuff up there will be a ton of new plants available by summer. The mid-summer open house is the same weekend Fronderosa used to be, and although we can’t claim to be as diverse as Fronderosa, at least we might draw in some people who miss having an exciting plant shopping event in August. This will also be our first May open house in years and I think we can be ready enough.

Finally, we’re open to possibly adding another event or two anytime from about mid-June on. Let us know if you think of anything we should look into!

As usual my post has gotten quite long-winded, so thanks for reading. We look forward to seeing you at one, two, several, or all of these events! And of course if you can’t make it, there’s always mail-order.

NEWSLETTER: See Us This Weekend at the Sequim Garden Show!

Greetings Fellow Plant Nuts,

That’s right, it’s that time of the year again—garden show and plant sale season! (But for some of us, when was it not?) I suppose we could say the season kicked off in February with the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, but the weather has been anything but springlike around here until just the last week or so. Perhaps, like me, you were wondering just earlier this month if winter was ever going to end or what.

So what better time than this weekend to head out to Sequim and visit us at the Sequim Garden Show? Especially considering a visit to Sequim on any other weekend is unlikely to coincide with a local garden show. Please have a look at their web site for directions and further information.

Are there any plants you want us to bring? You can just let me know and I’ll bring them to the show. You can even let me know on Saturday and I’ll bring them Sunday morning. The e-mail version of this newsletter comes with a handy list of the larger stock we have available, which is more up-to-date than the list of larger stock on the web site. We only live five minutes from this show so that’s no problem at all. This list does not include the mail-order plants, for which a reasonably up-to-date list is found on the web site.  I’m happy to bring any of these plants for you too.

There are a number of other nursery vendors there as well. One of our favorites is Phocas Farms, a specialty vendor of hardy succulents (mostly Sedum and Sempervivum). Unlike most succulent growers, this one actually knows the exact names of everything they sell. And there are always more local nurseries. Some are here year after year, and others come and go so you never quite know who will show up.

So, yes, the show is only two days away, meaning this notice doesn’t leave a lot of time for advance planning. The story behind that is, this newsletter got put off because I was hoping to produce by now a full list of all the sales I would be participating in this year. I usually try to be prepared with that by early March or so. But it seems we have a few things that are still up in the air, including selecting from several conflicting options the third week of May, and sorting out our own open house dates to make sure they don’t conflict with anything else. So I’m giving up on getting it all worked out before this weekend. But I’ll make my best effort to post a complete list of our 2017 events on our blog by the end of March!

This concludes this relatively brief newsletter. If you can’t make it this weekend, we hope to see you another time. And please check our blog again for updates!

Ian

The Desert Northwest
PO Box 3475
Sequim, WA 98382
mail@desertnorthwest.com
http://www.desertnorthwest.com

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A snapshot of the Sequim Garden Show from 2015.

10 Year Blogiversary!

Can you believe it was 10 years ago that I started this blog?  I’m not sure I can.  Here’s a link to the very first blog post.  You will see that it is very exciting (not).  I think I just wanted to have something on there so people would not go to just a blank page, and I didn’t feel a lot of pressure to produce meaningful content right off the bat.

I have a total of 110 blog posts.  That amounts to just shy of one per month, but there have been periods of more activity interspersed with some long breaks.  This year I am going to attempt to be a little more frequent and consistent with the posts, but not unrealistically so.  I’ll be happy if I manage to post twice per month, but maybe give myself a break if it’s a little less frequent during the very busy season.

So on this exciting occasion, let’s do some reflecting.  A lot has happened in ten years.  When I started this blog not a lot of people were on Facebook (including me).  This blog was my outlet for information and connecting with plant people.  Now that has all changed.  But Facebook isn’t quite what it used to be either.  I almost think separate social media platforms are needed for discussing plants and political banter.  I’m glad I didn’t totally give up on my blog.

In ten years I feel like I have almost started learning how to run a nursery.  (The nursery itself goes back to 2005.)   From a financial standpoint the nursery continues to do slightly better every year.  If I can meet some goals this year perhaps it will do a lot better.  One likes to be optimistic!  One of those goals is to transition to a complete online shopping cart.  What’s holding me back, you might wonder?  Well, it’s simply that there are many steps between assessing inventory on the ground to the finished product of a functional shopping cart.  I need to count quantities, write descriptions, find photos, and more.  Oh well, I will get there somehow.  I believe in working hard but I am also quite meticulous.  I have opted to keep putting it off rather than do a sloppy job of it.  Other processes such as shipping, potting up, inventory management and so forth continue to be more streamlined, a word which makes this fact sound impressive.

Looking ahead in the nursery department, I did not get terribly far afield this year to collect cuttings.  I did not go on any plant hunting trips or botanical exploration in natural areas, not even locally.  But the propagation area is full, mostly of cuttings from friends’ local gardens, so there will still be a lot of great stuff for sale next year.  Notably, we visited Mike Lee’s Arbor Heights Botanic Garden in West Seattle, which is really coming along nicely.  If we’re lucky perhaps I’ll manage to post photos of that in the near future. Many cuttings from Mike are already rooting.  We also returned to Hummingbird Hill Villa, about which I posted a year ago.  We went the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Arctostaphylos ‘Austin Griffiths’ was already blooming!  We thank the owners of these gardens for their generosity.  (The funny thing is, nearly six weeks later I still haven’t quite finished processing the Hummingbird Hill cuttings.  But they have been carefully stored and, remarkably, they still look fine.  I continue to go through them as the chance allows and hope to finish tomorrow.)

Besides all these cuttings, I’m also hoping to increase our selection of seed-grown plants like Eucalyptus and Acacia this year–plants we haven’t offered a lot of in a while, but we should.  And I’m also looking through some of the stuff we used to sell way back when the nursery started and asking, what can I propagate that we haven’t offered in a long time, that people would want to buy?

Also in the works, I am hoping to re-introduce seeds for sale.  But it is going to be a rather humble beginning, as many of my sources back when we had more seeds are no longer available.  Various plants/trees froze, and I haven’t done any collecting in the Southwest, or around Seattle.  So this may not be a huge deal.  But as the chance arises I’ll just continue to collect what I can.  So far I have managed to collect about 15 species from plants like Eucalpytus, Callistemon and Leptospermum in quantity enough to sell.  I’ll see what else I can come up with.  Stay tuned for more news about this hopefully by February!

Finally, I’ll mention that I’m hoping I feel like I can afford to cut back on regional plant sales a bit this year.  It’s tempting to try to fill every weekend with one event after the other, but I have to consider how much valuable nursery time I am missing, and how far behind I get in the spring (especially on potting up cuttings and seedlings) by not staying home as much as possible.  I’ll be making some decisions about that soon, and I’m certainly not giving them all up. I have already reserved my usual booth at the Sequim Garden Show, which is coming up the third weekend of March.

How about this cold weather?  I admit we view it as a bit of a hassle when it lasts this long. We have now had three separate “arctic blast” type events, which is an awful lot of them for one winter, and we still have a good deal more winter to go.  Between everything being frozen and me being sick for that brief period after Christmas when we were above freezing, there have been periods where work has kind of come to a standstill.  (That’s why the Hummingbird Hill cuttings aren’t done!)  But when I can, besides sticking cuttings, I continue to clean up the first three greenhouses when we’re above freezing.  I have also organized my bamboos, which needed doing, and cleaned out the shade house, and I have a big project going now with organizing pots. Winter stuff, we might say.

We did not get a lot of snow, which is good.  No more than an inch fell at any one time, though with everything being frozen, there is still some out there now.  “Snow is a good insulator,” the saying goes, but what they don’t tell you is that it’s hardly worth it when snow cover on the ground substantially drops the air temperature at night from what it otherwise would be.  So we say no thanks to snow if we can avoid it.  Our coldest temperature has been 20°F, which is annoying but it could have been much worse.

And, importantly for my personal sanity, the freezing weather is great for catching up on various projects indoors that have been neglected for too long.  Spreadsheets about plant hardiness, organizing files, cleaning e-mail inboxes, cataloging photos, and the like.  I have been about five years behind on listing all the plants pictured in the photos I have taken.  But now I am catching up!  I have to know where to find the photos of various plants on my hard drive if I am going to use them.  The only unfortunate thing is it is just on a spreadsheet–If there were any fancy photo organizing programs when I started this 11 years ago, I did not know about them.  Now I think that’s too big of a leap to make.

I suppose that’s all the news that’s fit to print, and then some!  I’m sure most of my readers are looking forward to winter being over as much as I am, so we can all get on with planting!  Here are a few random photos:

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Nursery on December 6th.

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Little plants all snug and warm in the greenhouse.  Isn’t that cute?

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An ice plant covered in ice.  It seemed appropriate. Isn’t it an ice plant?

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