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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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

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.

NEWSLETTER: We’re OPEN Oct 29! And new plant list.

Dear Plant Friends,

I’ll be producing the e-mail newsletter version of this tomorrow, but for now let’s make sure this actually gets up on my blog.  As announced in the previous blog post, we’re having one final open day this year, which will be October 29th, a week from Saturday!  Come on out!  I’ll attempt to entice you with some nursery photos below.

But first, let’s talk about miracles.  If you never believed in miracles, now you should.  Because, after months and months – no, years – of pledging to update the plant list, and on multiple occasions making good progress on it but never managing to quite finish the job; I have actually, finally done it, for real!  And that is nothing short of miraculous.  Now you can go to http://www.desertnorthwest.com/catalog and actually see what we have, and not see what we don’t have.  Imagine that!  And that is a remarkable achievement.

Now, a few comments about the new catalog are necessary.  First, you’ll notice that some photos and descriptions are still absent from the list.  But I can fill those in over the winter.  Although people increasingly rely on smartphones and google to find the plant information they need, I still think it is of value to produce our own content.  So I’ll be working on that.  I’m also considering some other changes to the appearance of the page to make it easier to read and more colorful.  We’ll see what I decide to do.  And yes, I will update the “featured plants” on the home page someday!

Second, you’ll notice a major change to our pricing and shipping policies.  All shipping/handling costs are now included in the price for mail-order purchases, and a minimum order of $40 applies.  We could call it “free shipping!” and be gimmicky, but in reality we have simply opted to absorb those costs by raising prices accordingly on mail-order sales.  (I don’t know, maybe I should call it “free” anyway!  Hmmm…)  I’ll be writing another blog post soon elaborating on the reasons for these changes.

However, if you buy from us in person here at the nursery, our prices are unchanged from before (since the cost of shipping does not need to be covered in that case), and there is no minimum purchase.  In fact, unlike a lot of mail-order nurseries, very few of our prices have budged since we opened the nursery in 2005, and those not by much.

We must also note that the format of the catalog has changed from category-based to strictly alphabetical.  Honestly that was a major part of what was holding me back, as far as getting this update accomplished.  I actually wrote the script of the web site myself long ago, and while I’m sure there are now easier ways to do this stuff, I felt like I need to get on top of this “the old fashioned way” first.  Sort of a personal sanity issue, you might say.  And I have finally had to admit that to do so, it is much easier if I only have to maintain a single alphabetical list with all descriptions and photos.  Previously, as you may recall, I had an alphabetical list with the name only and cross-links to the plants with descriptions and photos listed under their respective categories, with separate pages for each category.  Then within the categories were more cross-links for plants that belonged under more than one category, and plants known by more than one botanical name.  What a mess.  Anyway, I finally “bit the bullet” and opted for the easier A – Z only format.  But even just to make that transition took a lot of time, and I had to write a new script for the new alphabetical page (now divided into eight pages) and copy all the plant names, descriptions and other information into it.

But, I still like the category-based format, so the categories are still noted in each plant description.  I think they have value, both in terms of planning one’s garden, and when considering plant relations and adaptations.  Hopefully someday we’ll get as far as an online shopping cart with multiple layers of categories possible.  This A – Z list with categories noted under the plant names is, in my view, a step in that direction.

Then once I got all that done, I had to rewrite the order form, and the “Info/Terms” page to reflect the changes to ordering and shipping policy/pricing.  And now it is time to write this newsletter and update the e-mail list before sending it.  I’m not complaining; it’s just nice when I feel like people understand all that goes into this!

The list for larger plants – stuff we don’t ship – still isn’t done and current.  I hope to attempt to do that early next week, so I’d say you should check the web site at http://www.desertnorthwest.com/local/retail.html about Wednesday or so and you’ll see our list of larger stock.  The fact that I have completed the retail list gives me hope that this too will get done!

Some of the nursery highlights include a great selection of smaller-growing cold-hardy Opuntia cacti, and quite a few Olearias, Callistemon, Leptospermum and other stuff that you need.  Araucaria angustifolia is back, along with Eucalyptus regnans, the world’s tallest non-coniferous tree!  The selection of hardy Hebes is much better than it has been in a while, and lots more.

Did you know that you need a Leptospermum namadgiensis?  I am convinced this plant is so tough it will grow about anywhere.  It comes from one of the coldest parts of Australia and can handle single digit temperatures.  It has bronzy new growth and always looks super year-round.  It takes drought, wet, poor soil and the deer don’t eat it.  But let’s get to some nursery photos already.

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Here are those Leptospermum namadgiensis, don’t they look nice?

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More stuff in the Australian section… heaps of Callistemons, Leptospermums, Drimys lanceolata, some very cute Ozothamnus coralloides, and more.

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Grevillea and Banksia section, freshly cleaned up.

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In the center of this photo we have a new Grevillea introduction we are calling ‘The Precious’.  (I thought the Lord of the Rings would be a fun theme for Grevillea introductions.)  It was a chance seedling, probably of ‘Poorinda Leane’, that popped up in my parents’ garden in Olympia.  You can be among the first to try it!  Then at left is Grevillea ‘Pink Pearl’ which we haven’t had in years (nine years maybe?), and a few Lomatia myricoides in the foreground.

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Manzanita (Arctostaphylos x ‘Sunset’) with silverleaf oak (Quercus hypoleucoides).

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Agave neomexicana and A. montana, both hardy west of the Cascades.

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Griselinia, Corokia, Carmichaelia australis (look that one up, it’s cool!), Hymenanthera and Olearia in the foreground, cactus table with hardy fuchsias underneath in the background.

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This is Banksia integrifolia subsp. monticola flowering in the back of one of our stock houses.  It is the largest Banksia in the wild, reaching a height of over 100′, and it is disjunct from the usual coastal form, occurring well inland at an altitude of 3,000 – 5,000′ in New South Wales.  Sounds like just what you need, right?  And we have them in 1 and 2 gallon pots only!  I need to get those back on the mail-order list sometime.

Anyway, we’ll call that good for now.  Thanks for reading!  Remember if you can’t make it on the 29th, you can still e-mail for an appointment at anytime.

Have a great fall!

Better Late than Never

This is where I offer a quick update to let everyone know I’m still alive. Now I have once again been very delinquent in maintaining the practice of posting our nursery newsletters to this blog. I send them by email and I should post them here but I sometimes just can’t get to it all. For the sake of consistency I think I ought to post them here even if they are old news. So you can look at those below if you are really bored and want something to read. I know some of the information about past events isn’t going to do you much good at this point.

As we head into winter my level of occupation with the nursery and other important pursuits continues apace. There is no “winding down” with the tail end of the fall season, at least not this year. Retail nursery people might not get this, but I would be happy to put them to work on a number of tasks if they are bored and want to work for free. Ha ha.

Most importantly we are in the process of building greenhouse 4. (I said that in the newsletter below.) If that gets done before winter strikes, life will be much easier because there will be plenty of room in the greenhouses for all the stock that needs to go in. If winter decides to show up in mid-November again, then I am going to have to shove everything into the other greenhouses and end up moving it twice and not be able to reach everything. That is a lot of extra work but if it is what I have to do we will do it. I think this greenhouse will be done by about Thanksgiving, but it’s not that I got a late start– I have been clearing a pile of rocks out of the way since August. Generally, the stuff sitting outside that needs to come in can take a little frost, and sometimes more, but real winter– mid 20’s or below– really needs to hold off a few more weeks or I will have to ask for my money back.

Soon-to-be-assembled greenhouse 4, all the posts set and just a few large rocks still left. I moved all those rocks just after I took the photo.

Soon-to-be-assembled greenhouse 4, all the posts set and just a few large rocks still left. I moved all those rocks just after I took the photo.

A 5' tall pile of rocks that I moved from the space where greenhouse 4 is going. By the way, did you know that rocks are heavy?

A 5′ tall pile of rocks that I moved from the space where greenhouse 4 is going. By the way, did you know that rocks are heavy?

What else do we do in winter? Well last winter, I did a lot of organizing papers in my house. It had been neglected and put off for a few years but I made a major dent in that stuff and got organizeder. (That should be a word.) I had some other house projects to do as well—building shelves and that sort of thing. Also last winter I did a lot of cleaning up in the greenhouses. Stock gets old, gets weeds in it, roots into the ground, etc., and needs attention. But I did not do nearly enough. This year I shall be far more aggressive about it. I also expect more success since I have new soil, unlike last year. New soil with no weed seeds in it gets me off to a much better start each season. And I also did a little planting in the ground last winter. But this year I want to do a lot more. We’ll see how far I get, but I probably won’t get too serious about it until that greenhouse is done.

This is the Grevillea section. It is already cleaned up, but there is much more work to do in other areas. The kneeling pads, broom and dustpan are placed to make it look as if someone is working on it.

This is the Grevillea section. It is already cleaned up, but there is much more work to do in other areas. The kneeling pads, broom and dustpan are placed to make it look as if someone is working on it.

A new pile of soil with no weed seeds in it. Yes, it really is as exciting as it looks.

A new pile of soil with no weed seeds in it. Yes, it really is as exciting as it looks.

Here are some plants that are in the ground, and have been for just under a year. There are few weeds in this spot because it still hasn't really rained under the large douglas-fir trees where these are planted.

Here are some plants that are in the ground, and have been for just under a year. There are few weeds in this spot because it still hasn’t really rained under the large douglas-fir trees where these are planted.

This Arctostaphylos manzanita 'Montlake' is also in the ground. The cage is in place to protect it from giant, evil rats with antlers.

This Arctostaphylos manzanita ‘Montlake’ is also in the ground. The cage is in place to protect it from giant, evil rats with antlers.

In winter, we still ship, but we try to pay attention to the weather. If it’s bitterly cold where the plants are going, or en route, we wait until a break in the weather. Shipping along the West Coast is certainly not a problem, as long as we are above freezing here. We also continue to be open by appointment.

In theory we also work on the web page. I don’t even want to say anything about that because this is like the sixth time in a row I have said I am going to update it and then I can’t quite get it done. But someday I will, and when it happens I will certainly announce it here.

Late fall is also when we propagate nearly all of our cutting stock. We do not have a mist propagation system yet, so we find that cutting propagation works best during a relatively narrow window from late fall up to about New Year’s. We are constantly on the lookout for cuttings of new and interesting things, so guard your plants carefully! Ha ha, yes that was a joke. (Or was it?)

The beginning of fall cuttings. At left is Romneya, which I haven't propagated in several years.

The beginning of fall cuttings. At left is Romneya, which I haven’t propagated in several years.

Here I am attempting something experimental. Certain easily propagated plants such as Hebes and Fuchsias have been stuck in their individual pots with potting soil. As long as they can root without bottom heat I think it may just work.

Here I am attempting something experimental. Certain easily propagated plants such as Hebes and Fuchsias have been stuck in their individual pots with potting soil. As long as they can root without bottom heat I think it may just work.

I also have numerous “family commitments” as we might call them. So that’s all right, and I don’t feel like I’m wasting time even if I’m not spending as much on the nursery as the nursery would appreciate.

So that is what we are up to. And here are those newsletters that should have been posted here months ago. Better late than never, right? Hey, at the rate we’re going that could be our motto.

***************

July 29th Newsletter
The Desert Northwest SUMMER OPEN HOUSE! …and more news.

Dear Plant Friends,

Welcome to another dry Northwest summer. While this summer has been drier and hotter than average by a significant margin, there is still nothing unusual about the fact that it has been dry. Lest we forget, it gets pretty dry around here every summer, just not as early and not this hot. So while some of us are scrambling to keep everything watered, we here at the Desert Northwest continue to propagate as quickly as possible more exciting water-wise plants for your garden.

This newsletter is to remind you all that we will be open this Friday and Saturday, July 31 and August 1, for our annual summer open house. (See http://www.desertnorthwest.com/openhouse.html for details and directions.) Unlike the spring open house, this time we will be putting signage back up in the nursery, although we don’t have signs for everything. The “overly attached plants sale” will be on once again: that means 50% off the regular price of anything that is rooted into the ground through the bottom of the pot (or otherwise shabby). The numbers of these have diminished somewhat compared to the spring sale, but not quite as much as we would like, and a lot of new and fresh nursery stock has been piled in front of the old stuff until we have time to deal with it. Which we will. Oh yes we will.

What’s new as far as plants? All of a sudden Australian tea trees (Leptospermums) are back and we have a lot of them! L. namadgiensis and L. ‘Eugene Hardy’ in particular are very useful garden plants, making a beautiful fine textured screen that tolerates drought, any soil and the deer don’t touch it (yes, for real!). Available primarily in the 4” pot size (but a few odd larger ones), these grow fast and will be impressive in the garden within a year or two. Colorful new growth and early summer flowers are nice too. The silvery L. cunninghamii and deep-green ‘Highland Pink’ are also still available, as well as others.

Then we have the manzanitas (Arctostaphylos), which are among the most valuable water-wise plants for Northwest gardens, and our selection of these is now on the upswing once again! These are mostly in the 4” pot size but a limited selection of larger sizes can also be found. There are too many types to list, but they include both the popular hybrids such as ‘Pacific Mist’ (back after a long absence) and ‘Howard McMinn’, along with a limited number of wild selections of species and hybrids native to Washington, Oregon and Northern California. The much talked about Xera Plants selection A. x media ‘Martha Ewan’ is also available (although you won’t see it on the list yet, because they looked too small a couple weeks ago when I made the list).

Complimentary to manzanita is the genus Ceanothus. We currently offer a nice form of C. impressus, as well as a huge mystery hybrid Ceanothus that ought to make a fabulous large-scale groundcover and be hardy to subzero temperatures. Some forms of C. prostratus also look like they’re just about ready to sell (also not yet on the list). This native species is slow-growing, cute and rarely offered.

And of course there is all kinds of other cool stuff available as usual, but I don’t want this newsletter to get so long that we don’t make it to the end. OK, but just one more thing: Telopea truncata. What is it, you ask? Basically it’s an Embothrium relative from Tasmania but with dark red flowers in tight clusters. It is super rare! People have been asking me about this for years, and at last I have managed to produce a nice crop of them. They are little but look great!

So what’s up with the web site? It still says 2013 on the plant list, which I admit is now way out of date. However I do HAVE a new list, and it’s just a matter of getting it on the web site. Actually I almost finished that about two weeks ago when some other stuff came up and I just couldn’t quite get it—oh well, hopefully soon. In the meantime I will attach for your viewing pleasure an up-to-date and CURRENT list of our plant availability to this e-mail.

If you can’t make it to the Open House this weekend, come and visit us at the Fronderosa Frolic in Gold Bar the following weekend (August 8). (See http://www.fancyfrondsnursery.com/events/) And as always, you are welcome to request plants from our list that you might want and we will bring them!

Thanks for reading! We hope to see you soon.

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

*************

September 18th Newsletter
The Desert Northwest OPEN HOUSE, Late Summer Update and Special Offer!

Greetings plant people! We write to remind you of several things. First off, NEXT weekend, on September 25th-26th, is our FALL OPEN HOUSE, our final open house event of the year (directions at http://www.desertnorthwest.com/openhouse.html). Fall rains are here and it is a fine time to plant (except really tender stuff). Come on out and shop till you drop! If that doesn’t work for you, we’ll be at the Heronswood sale THIS weekend (the 19th) in Kingston (details at http://www.heronswood.com). And if that doesn’t work, there’s still mail-order and appointments at any time! You’ll have to keep reading for the special offer part. Are we tricksy or what?

While everyone may be talking about fall, we haven’t forgotten that it is still technically summer. We like to remember these things because we don’t fear the heat. And what a summer it has been. We extend our sympathies to those who have suffered losses from the unusually bad wildfire season this year. I figure this summer has been a bit like the Holocene Warm Period of 7 – 10,000 years ago; when Garry oak, golden chinkapin and sagebrush dominated western Washington’s vegetation: hot, dry and sunny with smoke in the air half the time. Only we’re not accustomed to that.

More importantly (ha ha), our gardens are not used to it! I’m seeing all kinds of established plantings, usually of species that prefer summer water, that look either very stressed or fried to a crisp. And even some native plants and other water-wise species are under stress. When the weather deviates from normal, root systems are simply not equipped to draw water deeply enough from the soil to sustain the plants in good condition. Except cacti; they do fine.

This leads me to my next point. Our selection of hardy cacti is expanding! A few months back I took some cuttings of 15 or so different Opuntias (prickly pear cacti). They don’t have any new growth yet but they are rooted and ready to sell. We promise lots of new growth next year, and as long as they have good drainage, yes you can plant now—these are all super-hardy types including some native to Washington. Did we mention they have fabulous flowers? This is why we need a few display beds. But hey, we’ll get there sometime.

So, what about the rest of our plant availability? It’s actually on the upswing, and more on that below. It seems every time I send out a newsletter I say I am almost done with an update to the web site, and then never quite manage to finish it. That is really lame since it is so far out of date. On the other hand, I suppose it is a good sign I am keeping busy enough with ongoing maintenance and orders from people who email and ask about availability (and this is very much welcomed) not to have much time to work on it. Let’s just say I haven’t given up, but I’d best refrain from making any promises as to when that update will appear. For now I will append to this newsletter the July 2015 availability list which is reasonably up to date. This is the same list I sent out with the July newsletter, but I’ll send it again just for fun.

Now if you come out to the nursery, you’ll find there is actually MORE available now than even the July list shows, particularly in the 4” pot size. This is because a lot of the cuttings I potted up in May and June matured after I made the list. This includes a broad range of items from manzanitas to Grevilleas to Chilean and New Zealand stuff. So there are actually lots of new (and returning) treasures available, and no telling what you will find! I’d better mention Grevillea juniperina ‘Molonglo’ which we have not had in many years. We also have to note Ceanothus impressus really does impress us. And yes, Telopea truncata is still available.

So about that special offer. If you show up at the open house, I’m offering a free plant of either Arctostaplylos densiflora ‘Howard McMinn’, Arctostaphylos ‘Pacific Mist’ or Leptospermum namadgiensis—yourchoice!—with any purchase of two plants or more. Hey, if you blow a lot of money here I might even give you more than one. Don’t you just love gimmicks?

The Overly Attached Plants Sale continues yet again—that means 50% off the regular price for plants that are rooted through the pot and into the ground, or otherwise severely distressed. There are a few less of these than in July but I have not had the time to deal with these that I had hoped for. Perhaps I will in the coming months. (This had really better be the last time I do this or I will have some major problems next year.) Oh, and our familiar gray canopy died in the windstorm, which is tragic. If I had been using my head I might have put it away first. Maybe if the Heronswood sale goes really well I’ll feel inspired to buy another one next week, probably something smaller.

As long as I’m rambling enough to mention the canopy, I may as well note that construction of greenhouse 4 is underway, with the goal of being completed around early November! We can hope that the room to spread out will be just what we need to improve the nursery’s organization going into the future. We hope to move a lot of stuff around over the winter when it is done. Watch for an update on that, and other happenings, on my blog! I ought to have more time to provide updates on this stuff come late fall and winter.

See you soon!
Ian & Co.
The Desert Northwest
PO Box 3475
Sequim, WA 98382
mail@desertnorthwest.com
http://www.desertnorthwest.com

NEWSLETTER: Spring 2015 Open House and OVERLY ATTACHED PLANTS SALE!!

Spring open house is this weekend, Friday through Sunday, details and directions about which can be found here. More about that below! But first, some whining:

Good grief, what a month! I am sorry if I have not responded to your email. To start with I had my SECOND hard drive crash of the season, which had the misfortune of coinciding with my computer guy being out of town. At least the hard drive was under warranty, but I still don’t have my main computer back (and the others don’t really work well enough to count). Then on top of that our internet hardware seems to have died. I hope we have that resolved in the next day or two. In the meantime I admit the emails are piling up. I’m here in the library typing this and for some mysterious reason STILL can’t get into my Desert Northwest email. (Which also means this newsletter won’t go out via email right at this moment.) I hope all this will be resolved soon, hopefully before I turn into a complete technophobe.

Then there’s the nursery. Earlier this spring I got off to a great start, but parts of the nursery are now in, shall we say, less than ideal condition because babies (of the human variety) don’t sleep through the night. They are also a major distraction but in a good way of course. So the end result is, I’ve decided to announce a sale on OVERLY ATTACHED PLANTS. All overly attached plants will be offered at… drumroll please… 50% OFF the listed price on the web site.

What’s an overly attached plant, you ask? Well, that’s a plant (generally in a 4″ pot, but even a few larger items) that just loves being at our nursery so much that it rooted itself right into the ground through the bottom of the pot before anyone managed to move it. In general most of these plants are still salvageable given the right care. You’ll see some that I pulled out, cut back hard and potted up earlier and they are now doing fine. I still have a lot more of that to do and fortunately all summer to do it. But maybe we can speed this process along by trying to clear a bunch of them out right now.

The only conditions are that “overly attached” is defined according to our discretion (but don’t worry, we won’t be stingy), and plants should be pulled under staff supervision (that’s me!). Reasons for this include making sure you, the customer, have realistic expectations about the plants’ salvageability/performance. We’ll want to determine that a good proportion of healthy roots are still in the pot. We may also want to cut it back for you and/or soak it in water, which will be available. Another reason is if you pull something from the nursery and later decide you don’t want it, we’ll need to attend to it/them that evening. They may not last if they are just left out in the nursery, especially if I don’t find them for a while i.e. if I don’t know they have been pulled. Finally, the usual quantity discount for one-time purchases of $200 or greater does not apply to these plants.

Now lest we think this is entirely a salvage operation or something, there is also plenty of good news. Certain sections of the nursery are in good shape such as the conifers (a great selection as always) and the Fuchsias. Our selection of things like Olearia, Callistemon and Podocarpus remains good as well as various Washington native cacti (all Opuntia, no Pediocactus at this time). There are even a few exciting things like Heteromeles arbutifolia, Grevillea x gaudichaudii and Brachyglottis ‘Otari Cloud’ out there if you poke around. So yes, there are still a lot of NEW plants in the pipeline, and hopefully clearing out some of the old stuff will make room for them to fit!! And as always, some of the usual stuff like Grevillea, manzanita and the like remain available.

I will not be putting up my usual signage for this event, so it will be beneficial to arrive with a list of what you have in mind. I will be here and available all weekend to assist you with any questions. One thing about my signs is that there are a lot of good plants in the nursery for which I have no sign, and people keep passing these by, so we’ll just see how it goes without signs this time and call it an experiment. Maybe some of the other good plants will get some attention!

So there you have it. This is the first proper “sale” we have ever had and will probably be the last for a long time! Unless we change our minds. Well I’d better stop typing before the library staff accuse me of hogging all the internet. Thanks for reading!

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

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