THE DESERT NORTHWEST NEWSLETTER – August 2011

Ed. note: Following is our first email newsletter in years, but hopefully not the last. Enjoy!

Dear Friends,
Greetings from Sequim, Washington, where we are pleased to announce the sun is out once again and for the last week or so it has finally started to feel like a normal summer. As I look back I note that our previous newsletter dates back to – wait for it – October 2007! That’s right, when things still looked rosy, before the economic meltdown really set in. Now that things aren’t so rosy anymore, we hope that people will be increasingly interested in saving water and reducing garden maintenance, and therefore interested in our plants which (for the most part) require little of either once established.

With such a long hiatus from e-mail newsletters, some of you may be wondering if we have gone out of business, or if your attempt to sign up for the newsletter was unsuccessful, or what. You may have even forgotten you signed up! But in any case, we’re still here, and at long last we’re finally organized enough to make this happen again. I know it’s not exactly a spectacular example of effective e-mail marketing from a business standpoint, but at least we are not guilty of spamming your inbox with at least two or three “newsletters” a week as is another certain mail-order nursery which shall remain unnamed. In theory we’d like to aim for about four to six newsletters per year. Due to the long break, this newsletter will necessarily be the longest one we have ever sent. Think of it as a “chapter” in the story of the Desert Northwest.

We would like (before rambling enough to completely lose your attention) to draw your attention to our largest EVER inventory of mail-order plants, which can be viewed at http://www.desertnorthwest.com/catalog
Now the only problem is that we provide only a simple list of plant names: we have not managed to keep up with our enticing descriptions. We hope this shall soon be remedied, but don’t wait for it. (And hey, at least we have kept the list current for the last couple seasons, which is more than we can say for certain periods in the past.) In the meantime, you can find out how cool these plants are by plugging the names into a Google search and/or Google image search. Between Google and Wikipedia you can probably find out a lot more about some of these plants than I could tell you anyways (although that won’t stop me from trying in the future!). I know, it’s not quite the same, but it’s something to do on those days when you just need to geek out with some plants.

Highlights of the mail-order list include our best selection of Arctostaphylos (manzanita) in years, including an outstanding local form of A. x media with grey-green leaves and pink stems. We also have four collections of Banksia marginata now, three of which are new to us. This is certainly one of the most promising Banksias for Pacific Northwest gardens, as some specimens even in cold gardens remain alive after the last few cold winters. We also have B. integrifolia subp. monticola, a “mountain Banksia” of giant proportions never before offered in the US that we know of (except by us last year). We also have five species of Azara, fourteen(!) Callistemon selections, and fifteen of Grevillea (that may be our best ever, or close to it), and fifteen of Leptospermum including some very hardy species (the newly offered “spreading form” of L. lanigerum, shared with us by Mark and Lila Muller at Fairmeadow Nursery, endured 6 degrees F undamaged!) – each more beautiful than the next, of course. If you need any advice selecting the best ones for your site, just e-mail us and we would be glad to help. Our conifer selection has also expanded greatly, and don’t miss the Hebes which have now all been re-classified under Veronica for some reason.

We would also like to present our largest list ever of specimen plants (which is what we are calling plants in 1 gallon or larger sizes) for sale, which can be viewed at http://www.desertnorthwest.com/catalog/specimen_plants.html
These plants, available for local sale, look great now – so, hey, come and get ’em! Just e-mail us for an appointment; we are happy to accommodate.

For those of you who are wondering about seeds, we are unfortunately suspending seed sales until later this winter when I will make a reassessment. (I know it doesn’t say that on the web site.) With the absence of any recent collecting trips, and the fact that some of the stuff we used to collect locally has frozen in the last few colder winters, you could say our seed sources have somewhat dried up. Stay tuned for more updates and if there are any particular items you are interested in you are welcome to inquire about availability.

So, to quickly recap what has happened since October 2007: in 2008 we moved the nursery from Poulsbo to Sequim and went through a difficult period of having very little time to take care of the nursery or build new greenhouses in Sequim. A proportion of our inventory and collections were lost in the December 2008 freeze, although we did manage to save a lot of stuff by moving it into the garage for a time! Since then we have been adding as much as we can to our facilities, having constructed a shade house and two large (20 x 84′) greenhouses (with only one layer of plastic, I have been using them more as cold frames so far). So we have certainly kept busy. This year I feel like things are really coming together better than ever before, and I suppose that relates to our impressive (for the scale of our operation) inventory of healthy plants. If you’re interested in a closer look at the nursery development process, go to our blog at https://desertnw.wordpress.com/ and start clicking back at ‘Older Entries’ to see the documentation of greenhouse construction and other exciting stuff.

Some may be wondering how we feel about the “lousy” weather we have been experiencing over the last couple years. Mostly I have been too busy working on the nursery (among other responsibilities) to have time to complain. I will say that a cool spring actually makes things easier in some ways – if plant growth is slowed down a bit by cool weather then I’m under less pressure to pot up those plants that don’t sell right away, before they become rootbound and leggy. I then have all summer to catch up which actually works out quite well. The other thing to bear in mind is that no matter how cool and dark it gets around here, we can never manage a truly “wet” Northwest summer. Unless you live in a swamp, sooner or later your soil dries out, and if your garden is thirsty then you’re watering, even if only for a short period for some years. Thus we continue to believe that what we are doing remains relevant and beneficial. We would also note that one of our coolest summers in history, 1957, was followed immediately by an exceptionally long and hot one in 1958. Anything can happen!

A couple other quick notes before I wrap this up. I mentioned the blog – I have been posting more regularly there about a variety of topics that you may find interesting if you have a professional interest in horticulture. Another way we are staying in touch is through Facebook or “the evil empire” as we sometimes call it. We have been posting brief updates there once or twice per week as well as the most current photos of the nursery. If you are on Facebook please consider going to https://www.facebook.com/TheDesertNorthwest and …(cough)… “liking” our page.

Finally, since I know you’re looking for something to do next weekend that doesn’t involve hanging out with people who don’t care about plants, we would like to invite you to the 2011 Fronderosa Frolic, which will be held at Fancy Fronds Nursery in Gold Bar (for more information see http://www.fancyfronds.com/frolic.cfm). We will be there along with all the most exciting Northwest nurseries with all the coolest plants, including some of our favorites such as Fairmeadow Nursery, Steamboat Island Nursery, Cistus Nursery, Far Reaches Farm , Dancing Oaks Nursery, and more! And you should come and buy some ferns from Judith at Fancy Fronds who is truly one of the coolest and most gracious nursery people around. If there are any special requests we can bring for you just let us know and we will bring them – we hope to see you there!

Thanks for reading and may your plants and gardens continue to prosper whatever life brings!
Spinosissimusly,
Ian & Co.
The Desert Northwest
http://www.desertnorthwest.com
mail@desertnorthwest.com
PO Box 3475, Sequim, WA 98382

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