Far Reaches Farm: A Plant Geek’s Fantasy!

Sometimes we put off doing things that are easy because we think we can do them anytime. For me one of those things was visiting the enigmatic Far Reaches Farm in Port Townsend, which was only 45 minutes drive away when we had the nursery in Poulsbo, and is still about 45 minutes away now that the nursery is in Sequim. So I have no excuse for not having visited a long time ago. So finally last Saturday I took advantage of the beautiful summer weather and brought the family out for my first visit to this exciting horticultural destination.

Far Reaches portrays itself as “a plant geek’s fantasy” and it’s easy to see why the moment you drive up. Anyone who thinks there’s nothing exciting going on in Northwest horticulture, and the frontier of rare and exotic new plant introductions, has obviously not been to Far Reaches, and owes himself a visit. In the past few years Far Reaches has rapidly become western Washington’s premier source for rare and interesting botanical treasures (although we like to think we have some pretty cool stuff at the Desert Northwest too!). While proprietors Kelly Dodson and Sue Milliken frequently travel abroad on botanical expeditions bringing back various treasures, they are also actively engaged in an often overlooked practice that is just as important; that is, the preservation and propagation of a wide variety of plant introductions old and new that have excellent value in Northwest gardens yet have still never caught on in general nursery commerce, remaining very scarce. There is such a broad variety of unique plants that deserve a chance in our gardens, and here you can find many of them in one place.

In addition to the extensive outdoor sales area and two or three sales greenhouses, Far Reaches also has well-established display beds full of interesting plants, including some of their unique collections, and also featuring a pond with a newly planted bog garden, a green-roof gazebo, and more. A major highlight is the shade garden, which is spread out underneath a grand-scale classic lath house, and packed full of very special and unique shade perennials, ferns, and shrubs. It is a great place to stroll or sit and relax, although I didn’t bother since I was too busy looking at all the plants. Unsurprisingly, in less than two hours I had assembled an incomparably diverse collection of goodies to bring back with me, including a handful of hardy Agaves and cacti, two Leptospermums, and a wonderfully horrendous-looking climbing Ephedra from South America. (And no more than one of each, of course!) Among Far Reaches’ collections is a large number of Kniphofia and Crocosmia varieties, and you are certain to always find an excellent selection of these for sale.

The nursery is easy to find, but hours vary so you will want to check their web site before heading out; or better yet you can subscribe to their newsletter. Although I haven’t seen the official word yet, I suspect they will be open most weekend days through September and October.

Switching gears here, I must include a quick Desert Northwest business side note: If you want to find us in the Seattle area, we will be selling plants in Seattle twice in September. On the 10th, we will be at Bellevue Botanic Garden for the Northwest Perennial Alliance fall sale, which runs from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. We will also be at the Northwest Horticultural Society’s big fall sale, which is the 16th and 17th. It has traditionally been in the hangars at Magnusson Park but this year the sale has moved to North Seattle Community College (check the NHS web site for details!). I hope to see you there; if you’ve been following our blog stop by and introduce yourself!

Finally, here are a few more shots from my September 4th visit to Far Reaches.

Shade garden.

Lobelia tupa still doing it’s thing in September – magnificent!

Great containers.

Kelly talking to shoppers – it was pretty busy the whole time we were there.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Loree / Danger garden
    Sep 06, 2011 @ 21:39:38

    Oh I am SO jealous!!! I got to hear Kelly and Sue talk about their adventures recently at a plant nerd gathering, such cool plants and neat people…I’m hoping they’re going to be at the HPSO sale this weekend…of course I wish you were going to be there to!


  2. Ian
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 12:55:58

    Yes I think they said they were going. I think I may try to get into HPSO next year; from what I hear it is pretty good from a nursery business standpoint. For out of town visitors I recommend a circuit from the Desert Northwest, to Far Reaches Farm, to Dragonfly Nursery, and if you have time to visit Vashon Island then Colvos Creek and Dig. Sounds like a fun day right?


  3. kate
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 16:30:38

    Ian, after reading this, I was just going to ask you to recommend a circuit for visiting the Desert NW, Far Reaches and anyone else you could think of in the area…. I haven’t been to Colvos Creek in years; I used to adore the display gardens. Never been to Dig or Dragonfly, either. PS Let me know next time you’re in Portland – I’d love to rope you into another talk for us!


  4. Andrea Sawyer
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 23:09:05

    I too finally made it to Far Reaches this summer – such a treat! My husband and dog were bored silly (nongardening pair) as I gleefully assembled a large selection of treasures. Kelly is a genius at creating hysterical plant descriptions on their tags as well, I think I read them all!


  5. Ian
    Sep 20, 2011 @ 16:21:40

    Kate, I think we could arrange that. I shall have to provide a report on Colvos Creek soon!

    Andrea, yes, I appreciate Kelly’s creativity as I can tell you it is quite a challenge sitting at a computer writing interesting plant descriptions making each one great! At least it is for me…


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