NEWSLETTER – September Open House and Sales! Featuring Conifers.

Greetings Friends Against Boring Plants,

September is here, and despite it still being summer, our fall rains have arrived early! And it looks like more is on the way this weekend. Of course we all know fall is a great time to plant, and that is especially true of early fall, and it is even more true in weather like this. We have been doing a little planting ourselves.

So here is what we have in the pipeline. This weekend is our final open house of the year! (Details/directions on our web site as always.) Then after that we have two regional sales coming up: The Salem Hardy Plant Society sale, Sept 14th in Salem, and the Northwest Horticultural Society sale, Sept 20-21st in Seattle. We welcome your special plant requests for either of these sales. After that, well, there is still mail-order, and you can always visit the nursery by appointment!

You hear often that “fall is a great time to plant,” but is it really true? Well, yes, in fact, it is. Studies have shown that many plants make more root growth in the fall than at other seasons. And we have certainly noticed that plants set in the ground or potted on in the fall have a great advantage in the next growing over those whose planting was delayed until early the following spring. Not only do they start growing faster and better, but they look greener and healthier too, with fewer physiological problems.

As we are highlighting different groups of plants with each open house event, I thought this time we would go with conifers. (Even if I have already mentioned some of these earlier.) They might not be listed on the web site yet, but we still have a few Juniperus maritima left. This is one of western Washington’s most special native plants, being found only in the ‘Salish Sea’ area and a few isolated pockets of the northeast Olympic Peninsula. A true relict from the Holocene warm period, this is a great drought tolerant, conical, small tree for the garden producing berries that attract the birds. It is uncommon in the wild and very hard to find in nurseries.

In the Juniper department, we also have an ever-increasing selection of Juniperus communis var. saxatilis forms from various places around the Northwest. This is a nice groundcover that grows slowly enough to be considered well-behaved. For something shrubbier, we also have an upright form of J. communis. And just in case you need something extremely drought tolerant that will keep the neighbors out, we have a few Juniperus oxycedrus. This Mediterranean species makes a big prickly tree! Just don’t plant it too close to anything else.

Getting back to rare and special Northwest native conifers, Taxus brevifolia, the Pacific yew, is a nice small tree that thrives in shade. It is easy to grow but slow, and with its glossy, dark needles I think it can look a bit exotic in the right spot. We also still have plenty of Modoc Cypress (Cupressus bakeri) in stock (small size only). This beautiful tree occurs farther north in the wild than any other Western Hemisphere cypress, and has fine, soft, grey foliage. Although easily hardy in Northwest gardens, it remains very rare. We have a few other rare Cypresses in stock too, like C. austro-tibetica and green Arizona cypress (C. arizonica subsp. arizonica).

Looking at a few more West Coast conifers, you can also find at our nursery Pinus jefferyi, which does great here and looks much like a Ponderosa. We also have a new crop of the deep green and vigorous Cupressus pygmaea and the beautiful C. macrocarpa ‘Donard Gold’. And we have just a few of the very rare Torreya californica, a yew-like tree with long sharp needles that can eventually reach quite a large size!

Port Orford Cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) remains a great choice for well-drained Pacific Northwest gardens. We carry an excellent large-growing blue form of it as well as the fabulous upright cultivar ‘Blue Surprise’. If you want to try something different we also have some little starts of ‘Chilworth Silver’.

The beautiful Chilean conifers Podocarpus salignus and Prumnopitys andina remain available in ample quantities, as does Fitzroya cupressoides, the “Patagonian redwood” which can live longer than 1,000 years! Some other fun Southern Hemisphere conifers in stock would include the golden totara, Podocarpus totara ‘Aurea’ from New Zealand, and the weeping Tasmanian Huon pine, Lagarostrobos franklinii. We also have an exciting form of Afrocarpus falcatus that has proven hardy at the J. C. Raulston Arboretum in North Carolina. This is usually regarded as a houseplant in our climate but why not try it outside?

In the smaller Podocarpus department, we continue to have plenty of Podocarpus lawrencei ‘Purple King’ with its beautiful purple winter color, as well as P. alpinus ‘Red Tip’, and the plain green form of P. alpinus, and P. nivalis which makes a nice little groundcover.

Finally I shall mention a couple of Asian conifers: Podocarpus macrophyllus, which is often sold as a houseplant though it is actually completely hardy outdoors in the Northwest. With its huge strappy leaf-ish “needles” it hardly even looks like a conifer. And Cephalotaxus harringtonia is a fun plant with a tiered branching habit and dark green needles. It does great in the shade, and both of these will appreciate summer water.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you soon!
Ian & Co.
The Desert Northwest
PO Box 3475
Sequim, WA 98382
mail@desertnorthwest.com
http://www.desertnorthwest.com

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