Newsletter October 14, 2007: time to shop for plants!!!

Hello friends,

Well six weeks into the fall shipping season, which has been busy enough to keep me on my toes despite only limited announcement, I find a chance to sit down a type a quick update of what’s new here at the Desert Northwest. We’ve gone from a busy summer to an even busier fall, as we endeavor to pack up all the plants, pots and other supplies and move them to our new location over the coming weeks, while still performing the usual tasks to take care of them, doing thousands of cuttings for next year’s plants, and building new greenhouses before winter. So 2007 will go down as “the year that was completely crazy” in my memory. Unfortunately (and probably needless to say) the thing I probably won’t be able to make time for is any major collecting trips. New Agave and Yucca seeds will have to wait one more year, I’m afraid, barring a miracle.

I am finally organized enough to send out newsletters via e-mail to everyone who requested to be added to the list of e-mail updates on my order form! So this will be the first such newsletter. If this message has reached you in error or you wish to be removed from my list, please accept my apology and send me a note back indicating this is so.

While the Eastern US has been enjoying unseasonably summer-like weather, it has been downright wintry out here, with lots of rain, wind, and significant mountain snows. Summer was rather cool and clammy, but not too out of the ordinary when one looks at the statistics – but I can hardly remember such “bad” late September and early October weather. After enduring 28 consecutive days of below normal temperatures, our average high of 63 (anticipated tomorrow) seems downright balmy. The record highs seem impossible to believe! Did it really get to 83 on this date in 1991? Oh yeah, it’s not winter yet. Well, on the plus side, I haven’t had to do very much watering.

As the rains come early to the Pacific Northwest, we are reminded that fall is considered the ideal time for planting by “normal” horticulture professionals and specialists alike. Giving plants a little extra time now to put down roots will give them a significant edge come spring, and with the weather we have had, you can plant right away without worrying about irrigating them. Of course, a little frost protection may be necessary to overwinter certain plants successfully, depending on your climate.

My biggest sellers continue to be the Grevilleas: not surprisingly, as these plants have so many virtues; and, I believe, are on the verge of making it big in the Pacific Northwest. Many of them are good performers in the South as well. It doesn’t say this on the web site, but I have under-produced them so get yours quick before it’s too late! This fall I am doing hundreds of Grevillea cuttings to hopefully meet next year’s demand. Don’t forget the South African Proteas – I have quite a few of these now growing large enough to ship and they are frequently even showier.

I have an increasingly diverse selection of offerings for the cold-hardy desert garden. A better selection of hardy cacti and Agaves is the obvious addition, but no exotic garden should be without my special hardy Furcraea selections: these Yucca impostors are among the most rewarding and impressive deserty type plants we can grow, and they also blend nicely into any tropical themed garden.

To make your desert garden really authentic you might also consider adding plants such as an evergreen oak or one of my manzanita selections, both of which complement any cactus garden splendidly. These tough and durable plants also stand very well in their own plantings and are excellent for covering dry sunny banks or areas difficult to reach with the hose, for gardeners trying to get away from the same old stuff. Consider the rugged yet easily grown Arctostaphylos hookeri, or one of my super-grey A. viscida selections.

For the admirers of antipodean flora, I now offer an expanded selection of New Zealand and South American native plants. Some of these will be available only sporadically so get them while you can! Finally, for those of you who have been asking for Callistemons, I now have a splendid selection of hardy species and forms from which to choose, with flower colors ranging from cream to red to purple.

Thanks for making it another successful year. Successful enough, at least, for the nursery to continue forth, and for the likelihood of an even more exciting plant selection to come. Hopefully I’ll send out one more newsletter before the end of the shipping season with some commentary on my plans for the exciting new nursery location. Stay tuned!

Ian Barclay

The Desert Northwest



Current Availability: Click Here


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Van Bobbitt
    Dec 01, 2007 @ 04:45:52

    That’s our Embothrium in your picture at the bottom of the page. Glad you enjoy our great specimen. We really enjoy it ourselves.

    Van Bobbitt


  2. Neil Bell
    Dec 28, 2007 @ 20:56:25

    Hi Ian:

    I recently learned of your nursery and website, which is very nice! I couldn’t figure out a way to contacxt you directly, so I’ll go this route. Anyway, I work for OSU and for the last few years have been doing evaluations of various genera near Aurora, specifically Hebe, Cistus, Halimium and this coming year, Grevillea. I’ll be working with Paul Bonine at Xera Plants in Sherwood. You’ve obviously been at it for a while with Grevillea, and you’ve got some we do not have that I’d like to add to our evaluation, to be planted at NWREC next spring. I think (hope) we’ll have about 70-80 cultivars, if we get good rooting, even more. Obviously I need to drop in and see you sometime. I included a link to the Hebe evaluation, I do need to post results from the Cistus/Halimium trial as well as an older evaluation of Ceanothus on the site, too. I’ll look forward to hearing from you and chatting! Happy New Year!

    Neil Bell
    OSU Extension
    3180 Center St NE #1361
    Salem, OR


  3. desertnw
    Jan 06, 2008 @ 00:53:39

    Van, great to hear from you. Keep that thing alive, it is spectacular.

    Neil, your projects sound great. I hope I can visit Paul sometime later this winter. You’re welcome to e-mail me at any time.


  4. Bob McArthur
    Mar 06, 2008 @ 01:42:03

    Hi, Say i am a real novice when it comes to the Grevillea family. I do know from what I have read from your article and also what info. I have from googling that there are gorgeous. Could you recommend a couple that would work on Whidbey Island and might not be to tall 4 to 6 foot and 4 to 6 foot in width coverage. They look fantastic and look forward to your comments………………Bob “MAC” McArthur


  5. desertnw
    Mar 09, 2008 @ 19:06:50

    Bob, you could try Grevillea juniperina ‘Molonglo’ or G. miqueliana… availability will continue to be sporadic as I didn’t do quite all the Grevillea cuttings I wanted to last fall once again.


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