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

See Us This Weekend at the RSBG Sale in Federal Way! Also, 2017 Schedule of Sales and Events

I’m a little late as usual, but I think we’ve finally sorted out what events we have planned for the season and when, so here they are. Not listed is the Sequim Garden Show, which was announced in the previous blog post and via e-mail, and has already passed us by. It was the third weekend of March and went pretty well as always. We thank those of you who came out to see us for that event.

As usual, a complete list of events we are participating in is followed by my commentary:

April 14-15 (This weekend!) – RSBG Spring Plant Sale in Federal Way.  See also this list of vendors.

May 20-21: Grays Harbor Home and Garden Show, Elma. See also this site.  Map to the Fairgrounds Event Center where this show takes place.

May 26-27: Spring Open House here at the nursery in Sequim.

June 23-24: Early Summer Open House here at the nursery in Sequim.

July 22: Plant Sale at Heronswood Garden, Kingston.

August 11-12: Mid Summer Open House here at the nursery in Sequim.

September 9: Salem Hardy Plant Society Sale, Salem, Oregon.

September 16: Plant Sale at Heronswood Garden, Kingston.

September 22-23: Fall Open House here at the nursery in Sequim.

This weekend there is really way too much going on. First there is the RSBG Spring Plant Sale in Federal Way this Friday (tomorrow) and Saturday, which is the most important one since we will be there (ha ha). But there is also Hortlandia, the huge HPSO sale in Portland (Saturday-Sunday) which draws plant geeks from all over the Northwest, and the NARGS (Rock Garden Society) spring plant sale (Saturday only). I wish we could be at all three. So how is a plant nut to choose? Well I have the answer: Go to the RSBG sale Friday (first!), the NARGS sale Saturday, and Hortlandia Sunday (if your April plant budget isn’t exhausted by then). Problem solved. Fortunately, I’ve given you an entire half day of notice to plan all this out.

Our next event is the Grays Harbor Home and Garden Show in Elma, Coming up on May 20-21. This is a new event for us, but of course we like to try almost anything once. I’ll bring fewer manzanitas and succulents, and lots of plants that love the coast, like Olearia, Leptospermum and conifers. Despite our nursery name we actually sell an extensive range of plants that do great with high rainfall. Some of you may recall that I grew up in Olympia, and tested a lot of plants there that we still produce and sell. We thank John Kugen for connecting us with the organizer for this event.

The Salem Hardy Plant Society sale was the first we might have considered dropping, due to the travel distance/expense (and we didn’t do as well in 2016 as previous years). But this year they are moving to a new location closer to I-5 (Seabright Gardens). So we’re sticking with it, since the new venue may bring in more people, especially from the Portland area; and because if we drop it we’ll have no events in Oregon in 2017, which would be unfortunate. This is a great chance for you Portland folks who will miss us at Hortlandia to send in your special requests and take advantage of our expanded inventory, which is at its most diverse in late summer!

Now for the usual review of what are we not doing, and why? I feel like this is important just so people don’t wonder if we are out of business or dropped off the face of the earth or something. The big one of course is Hortlandia. After skipping it in 2015, we were back last year and it did about as well as usual. This year our main reason for skipping it is the schedule conflict with the RSBG sale (according to my notes, this was also an issue in 2015). The RSBG sale makes more sense for us in terms of travel expenses, less time away from the nursery, and seeing people who only come to that sale. We regret that we can’t be at Hortlandia and hope to return next year.

We missed a Heronswood sale on April 1st, and there will be another on May 13-14 we have decided not to attend, and leave a space open for someone else. The reason for this, as I noted on my January 5th blog post, is that we need to spend enough time at the nursery to stay on top of things here. I have come to realize that when I spend too much time away from the nursery in the spring, I start getting behind on projects to where things snowball out of control. So I’m trying not to let that happen this year (also the reason I haven’t been spending as much time online since March). You also have to consider that each plant sale doesn’t just “use up” the day(s) of the sale itself, but also basically an additional whole day required to prepare for it, and a couple hours unloading and putting away what doesn’t sell at the end. If I do three sales in April (as in last year) the amount of time consumed really adds up!

So with Heronswood sales in July and September we can still hope to be invited to, we thought it made sense to drop the spring events at Heronswood.

The Gig Harbor Garden Tour was pleasant and well managed. But we learned it is not the right venue for selling our products (no money lost, just time), so we are not participating this year. I highly recommend this event for anyone who wants to see some impressive and well-tended gardens. Many of the garden art vendors bring creative and beautiful pieces to this event as well.

And I think those are about all the changes from last year. Changes we made further back have been discussed in previous blog posts and can be read about by scrolling back to find them.

And yes, we did add one open house this year from the usual three. Well, sort of: technically we had four last year, only the last one, in late October, wasn’t announced until September. This year we managed to plan them all out in advance on dates that make sense, concluding that people aren’t thinking that much about planting by late October (even if they should be). If we can catch a few more people that way, that will be great; and at the rate I am potting stuff up there will be a ton of new plants available by summer. The mid-summer open house is the same weekend Fronderosa used to be, and although we can’t claim to be as diverse as Fronderosa, at least we might draw in some people who miss having an exciting plant shopping event in August. This will also be our first May open house in years and I think we can be ready enough.

Finally, we’re open to possibly adding another event or two anytime from about mid-June on. Let us know if you think of anything we should look into!

As usual my post has gotten quite long-winded, so thanks for reading. We look forward to seeing you at one, two, several, or all of these events! And of course if you can’t make it, there’s always mail-order.

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.

Sequim Garden Show This Weekend! And 2016 Schedule of Sales and Events

Well it’s that time of the year again: The time when I invite you at the last minute to the Sequim Garden Show, and then try to come up with a (more or less) complete list of the plant sales and events where we will be selling in 2016. If I were really clever one of these years I might manage to remind you of the Sequim show more than a week in advance. But for now we can be impressed that I manage to find time to post this at all, considering how far behind I am on everything.

As a side note, I’ve been building some new benches for the Sequim Garden Show to display our plants. I’m kind of having fun designing something that doesn’t take up space when collapsed and makes the plants look good. Perhaps I’ll post some photos of them later when all of them are finished and painted.

I am actually more enthusiastic than usual for the Sequim Garden Show this year. Last year we did great at this show. You wouldn’t know it from the web site but this year we actually have FAR more good looking nursery stock to bring. It’s in Sequim and it’s this weekend! Here’s the link to the web site.

So here is a list of the sales and events we are planning to do this year. It is as complete as possible for the time being, but it is inevitably subject to change.

March 19 – 20: Sequim Garden Show, right here in Sequim

April 2nd: Heronswood Early Spring Open, Kingston, Washington

April 8th – 9th: Hortlandia, Portland, Oregon

April 15th – 16th: Rhododendron Species Foundation Spring Plant Sale, Federal Way, Washington

May 14th: Heronswood Spring Open, Kingston, Washington

June 3rd – 4th: Spring Open House here at the nursery in Sequim

June 25th – 26th: Gig Harbor Garden Tour, Gig Harbor, Washington

July 23rd: Heronswood Summer Open, Kingston, Washington

July 29th – 30th: Mid-Summer Open House here at the nursery in Sequim

September 10th: Salem Hardy Plant Society Sale, Rickreall, Oregon (near Salem)

September 17th: Heronswood “Fall”? Open House. I hope they don’t call it that, since it will still be summer. Kingston, Washington

September 23rd – 24th: Fall Open House here at the nursery in Sequim. Take a day trip to the peninsula and enjoy free admission to Olympic National Park on the 24th!

In addition to these events, we are considering selling plants at the Port Angeles Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays, just on an experimental basis. This is only an idea for now, but we’ll make an announcement here if we actually decide to do it, and if they let us.

Some notes and further thoughts follow:

This will be the first year for us doing the Heronswood Early Spring event. We have done most of the others since they began but not this one. While everyone else will be there with their cutesy spring ephemerals and whatnot we will have the usual supply of Grevilleas and Leptospermums, because, of course, they are not just for summer. We’ll see how that goes over. I hope the weather is nice!

Last year we skipped Hortlandia. This year we will again be back at Hortlandia. Yay. However, we will have a limited amount of nursery stock due to lack of vehicle space (I’ll probably rent a car). So I’m kind of doing it just for fun. But I will bring the coolest and most exciting stuff we currently have in stock.

Last year we skipped the Clackamas County Spring Garden Fair in Canby. I hope to get back to that event again sometime, but probably not until all vehicle/trailer issues are resolved, which still hasn’t happened. So we are again taking another year off from that, but not giving up on it. (What happened to that trailer, you might be wondering? Well, I had it just about ready to go for Fronderosa last August, but it turned out the wiring needed more work, so we still haven’t used it. Then over the winter the vehicle with the trailer hitch on it died. Bottom line, cars hate me, but I knew that.)

The Gig Harbor Garden Tour is a new one for us as well. I don’t know what this event is like but we will just try it and see how it goes.

The Fronderosa Frolic in Gold Bar, which we had done every year since 2008, is sadly no more. It had a great run, but even by the time we joined on was (so it was said) not as spectacular as it had once been. It would be interesting to analyze “what happened” to make this sale go from an exciting event to one that was gradually less interesting each year. But the ultimate cause probably has to do with the general troubles faced by the nursery and garden industry as culture becomes more globalized, out of touch with nature, and disenchanted with local horticultural events. Times have changed and the nursery business must adapt. I am glad to have been a part of Fronderosa while it lasted.

It felt good not doing the NHS fall sale last year, which is also a shadow of its former self, and which always seems to be the same weekend as something else we like better. So I guess we’ll have to skip it again.

We look forward to seeing you at one of these events. You can even come to all of them! We will be impressed.

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

2015 Schedule of Sales and Events!

Is it 2015 already? Why didn’t somebody warn me this would happen?

Well that was an exciting few weeks—first I had way too much going on at once, then I got sick. Then my hard drive crashed. (Fortunately I had backed up all my files.) After waiting a bit to get my computer back with a new hard drive, it took another day or two to get files transferred and programs downloaded. So for all those reasons, it’s been a challenge to keep on top of emails. I think I am now caught up but if I owe you correspondence, just write again and bug me; I don’t mind.

Now we look into the future once again to try to predict where and when we will be selling our plants this year, besides mail-order and by appointment which are always available. We are taking it a little easier on ourselves as far as spring sales, which tend to drain all my energy at exactly the time of year I need to be putting work into the nursery. So here they are, in chronological order.

March 21 – 22: Sequim Garden Show this weekend! Yeah that’s coming right up. I guess you’ll have to really drop whatever you’re doing to make that one! Well, I would have provided more advance notice had I had my computer for the last two weeks.

April 17 – 18: Rhododendron Species Foundation Sale in Federal Way. Hopefully this year it won’t pour down rain all of Saturday. That was exciting.

May 16: Heronswood garden open and sale, Kingston.

May 29 – 31: Spring Open House here at the nursery in Sequim!

July 25: Heronswood garden open and sale, Kingston. I expect we’ll be bringing some extra cool stuff to this one.

July 31 – August 1: Summer Open House, Friday and Saturday only. (The date on the main “open house page” is incorrect but I’ll fix that soon.)

August 8 – Fronderosa Frolic, Gold Bar, Washington. I’m glad Judith is still hosting this event. As with last year it will be one day only.

September 12: Salem Hardy Plant Society sale in Rickreall, Oregon (just west of Salem).

September 19: Heronswood garden open and sale, Kingston.

September 25 – 26: Fall Open House in Sequim, Friday and Saturday only. Early fall is a great time to plant and our availability is usually at its peak around this time!

So here’s the “what’s different this year” section, along with some further random thoughts.

We’re skipping “Hortlandia,” the big HPSO April sale this year, since it conflicts with the RSBG sale, which costs us less in travel expenses and we think we will do better there given the type of stock we currently have more of. We still like it though. Hopefully we’ll be back next year.

There is still no Bloedel Reserve Plant Sale, which is too bad. I have one nursery friend in the know who swears it will be back soon, and another who swears it will never be back. So that’s interesting. If they ever have another one, we’ll do it, despite the challenge of preparing for it.

The Clackamas County Master Gardener sale. That went OK, but not great; and I expect we’ll give it at least one more shot, but not this year. It’ll be more worthwhile if I have my trailer ready to go, which I still don’t at this time (another project on my list!). (The trailer not being ready is also a factor in choosing RSBG over HPSO, for that matter.)

HPSO Fall Plantfest (which, ironically, is actually in summer). Last year I said I hoped we would do this but we didn’t end up actually doing it. I’m pretty sure that’s the same weekend as the SHPS sale so we’ll probably once again not do it and stick with SHPS, unless something changes at their end. That is a long way off so who knows.

NHS. Unlike last year, there is nothing on their web site this year that confirms they are having a sale in September, the one they have had for many years. Will there be one? When will it be? Who knows? Perhaps they haven’t decided yet. But if they are, it is certain to land on one of those weekends we are already doing something else. The two times we tried to do it in coordination with the SHPS sale at the same time, the added stress hasn’t been worth it. So, for those reasons and others, in all likelihood we’ll be giving it a pass even if it’s on.

Just for fun, and because I need to test out the new image editing software I downloaded (GIMP), here’s a random photo of our booth at the Salem Hardy Plant Society sale.

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Colvos Creek Nursery Closeout Sale

Who’s ready for some sad news? Well we have some really downer news. (Where’s that “Brace Yourselves” internet meme when I need it?) After approximately 39(?) years of business, Colvos Creek Nursery is closing its doors. That’s right, they’ve been selling interesting, rare, and very cool plants since before I was born.

Unlike many nursery closures, this seems like less of a casualty of the economy than a casualty of circumstance. (Just in January owner Mike Lee told me that business was going well with interest in their plants on the rise.) You can read about the reasons for their closure here.

Thankfully there is a positive aspect about this: this Saturday is the final day of their closeout sale, with all plants being 50% off! So this is your chance to get on over to Vashon Island and get some cool stuff. (I’m making the link to their web site really big so no one misses it!) If you can’t make it this Saturday, you should contact Mike and see what could be worked out.

I need to say a little bit more about Colvos Creek, which currently consists of Mike Lee (founder and long-time owner) and Vor Hostleter (expert plantsman and possibly co-owner, I’m not sure).

I am supremely disappointed about this closure, personally. Colvos has been a great inspiration for what we do here at The Desert Northwest. I believe Mike is among the very best plantspeople in the Northwest, if not THE best, even if he is not as well known as some. His knowledge about plants, and the cold-hardiness of all kinds of plants (including many so rare virtually no one has tried them), is nothing less than encyclopedic. And he’s a really nice guy to boot. Now that Mike is freed up from the nursery I expect him to write a book. Or perhaps several.

Also of significance, Colvos Creek has been a long-time pioneer for water-wise gardening in the Northwest. For decades they have been quietly promoting the use of many of our favorite drought tolerant plants like Arctostaphylos, Grevillea, and Callistemon for Northwest gardens.

Not only that, their availability was saturated with the rare and edgy, rivaling Heronswood in the 90’s or Cistus Nursery for hard-to-find cool stuff. (I say “was,” but the stuff they have now is still cool, as you will find if you visit.) For example, way back in January 1998 I bought an Araucaria angustifolia from Colvos Creek, which is now the tree you see pictured in the previous blog post! If you see hardy Agaves or tree-sized Embothriums in gardens around the Seattle area, there is a good chance they came from Colvos.

Colvos Creek Nursery had a great run, and certainly outlasted most mail-order nurseries. We are grateful for their inspiration. We want to do all we can to ensure that all they have contributed to horticulture in the Northwest and beyond does not go unrecognized.

We also secretly hope this closure is only temporary, and Mike and Vor start producing more plants again. But don’t tell anyone.

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