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.

Long Anticipated Exciting Spring Newsletter! (LATE PUBLICATION)

Editorial note: Well, I kinda goofed here. I sent out an email newsletter a few weeks back, but with so much preparation to do for the open house I didn’t manage to put it on my blog. Here I am adding it just for the sake of consistency because all the other ones are on here. So the open house is over and done, but that’s really not a big deal since you can always shop by appointment or come to the next open house July 26th. And anyway, the nursery looks better now than it did a few weeks ago.

Dear Gardening Friends,

So oh yeah, it’s spring! And it hasn’t been a bad one at that, we think. Not too cold but enough rain that we’re not watering all the time yet. For some of you, I know, it was TOO MUCH rain, but here in Sequim it didn’t feel that way.

Without further ado let’s announce that this weekend is our first open house of the year, and we would be thrilled to have your visit on Friday, Saturday or Sunday! Or even all three. Not only that, I have gotten myself together and put the open dates for the season – with directions and a map – back up on the web site right here. And not a moment too soon! Heh heh.

We like to start these things relatively late in the season after the regional plant sale mayhem is mostly behind us. It is also hard to get all the plants we crammed into the greenhouse for winter set outside and spread out in early spring, or else the deer will eat it. But by this time of year they not usually hungry enough to be a nuisance. (Yeah, someday we ought to do something about a fence.)

What? Did I hear that you still don’t have Grevillea victoriae subsp. nivalis ‘Murray Valley Queen’? You know, the one that is covered in showy red-orange flowers from October through May and keeps hummingbirds in your garden all winter. Well, we now have at least 100 little plants in 4” pots that want to go home with you. At $14 each they might sound pricey, but these are basically big enough to be a “1 gallon” plant and they look GREAT. Actually, we might have a few 1 gallons ($16) about ready to sell by now too. In any case, this plant is a great investment at any size! More details on our web site here.

So what else is new? Grevillea ‘Poorinda Leane’ is an excellent all-around hardy and tough shrub with nice foliage and apricot flowers. In the Australian plants department, our purple leaf form of Leptospermum lanigerum is back (little pots and a few 2 gallons), and we also have (not yet listed on the web site) a limited selection of hardy Eucalyptus including the world’s tallest non-coniferous tree, Eucalyptus regnans. Our Callistemon (bottlebrush) selection remains excellent, and includes the red-flowered ‘Woodlander’s Hardy’ and our own Callistemon sp. aff. sieberi that gets loaded with cream flowers in early summer. And we have a really cute, HARDY selection of C. viridiflorus blooming NOW in little pots.

Our succulent selection continues to improve. We now offer some nice 1 gallons of Agave montana, Yucca schottii, and as usual the native cacti Opuntia fragilis and O. columbiana. We also have a number of interesting 4” succulents that haven’t yet all made it onto the web site, such as Sedum palmeri (hardy form), S. praealtum, S. kimnachii, Graptopetalum paraguayense and the exquisite Crassula setulosa. Finally, an extensive selection of hardy ice plants is coming along; some of them are a little on the small side but we promise they are too cute to resist.

The selection of Chilean plants, New Zealand plants, and conifers remains excellent; and anyone wanting about 50 1 gallon Azara microphylla can take them all for just $300. Now there’s a steal of a deal. 2 gallon Arizona cypresses – and under-appreciated drought tolerant tree for the Northwest – are looking good. And this is your chance to get a little Araucaria angustifolia for the bargain price of $24. (Hey, YuccaDo was charging $30 not long ago.) This super-rare relative of the iconic monkey puzzle tree has comparatively bright green, lax needles and grows FAST. Some of you will have seen photos of the one I planted in Olympia in 1998 that is now approaching 30′ tall. You know you have room for another 100′ tree in your yard, and they won’t last long, so get one while you can!

If you can’t make it to the open house, our next regional plant sale appearance that we know of will be in Kingston at Heronswood on July 12th. In fact that remains true even if you do make it. How about that!

We want to thank all our customers who have done business with us at these plant sales, and via mail-order, and here on-site. Fun Fact: Did you know that we charge the same prices for our plants wherever we sell them? Hey, we are all about fairness around here.

Hoping to see you around,
Ian & Co.
The Desert Northwest
PO Box 3475
Sequim, WA 98382
mail@desertnorthwest.com
http://www.desertnorthwest.com

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A very happy Araucaria angustifolia in Olympia, August 2003. OK, so this isn’t the best picture, but there’s a Eucalyptus neglecta right behind it that I don’t want to cut down just yet (and anyway, the Araucaria grows taller, just not as fast).

2014 Schedule of Sales and Events!

It’s that time of the year again – the time when I have to predict the future and announce what plant sales and events we plan to be at. So here goes. Dates first for easy reading.

And don’t forget you can always specially request plants to be picked up at these events!!

March 15 – 16 – that’s this weekend! As always we kick things off with the Sequim Garden Show, a great local show that is worth the drive from outside the area, and timely if you have an early spring gardening bug to appease. This year I am hoping a large banner I ordered that says “WATER WISE PLANTS” will arrive in time and will draw more attention to our booth! We’ll see if it makes a difference.

After that I have four more weeks to get the nursery in gear for spring, which is a luxury I have not had the last few years. The Bloedel Reserve sale, which has been huge for us in the past, is not happening this year. I hate to say it but I am not really feeling too bad about that, since three major plant sales three consecutive weekends is VERY difficult & I always felt completely burned out by the end of it with the spring season still in full swing and demanding my attention.

April 12 – 13. So next it’s Hortlandia (Hardy Plant Society of Oregon) in Portland. This seems to be the Northwest’s biggest and best these days, worth the trip from Seattle! Some people even come from exotic far off places like California and Spokane.

April 18 – 19. Rhododendron Species Foundation sale in Federal Way, Washington.

May 3 – 4. Clackamas County Master Gardener Spring Fair, Canby, Oregon. This is a new one for us. Hey, we’ll try anything once!

May 17. Heronswood garden open and sale, Kingston.

May 30 – June 1. Spring OPEN HOUSE here at the nursery in Sequim!

July 12. Heronswood garden open and sale, Kingston.

July 25 – 26. Summer OPEN HOUSE here at the nursery in Sequim! We’re making this one a two-day event this time; you can still come Sunday but please schedule an appointment.

August 9. Fronderosa Frolic in Gold Bar. Haven’t heard from Judith yet, but assuming it’s on we’ll do it.

September 6. Heronswood garden open and sale, Kingston.

September 12 – 13. Northwest Horticultural Society Fall Sale in Seattle, not confirmed but probably doing it.

September 13. Salem Hardy Plant Society sale.

September 20. If we can, we’d like to try the HPSO Fall Plantfest (Portland). This is not confirmed.

September 26 – 27. Fall OPEN HOUSE here at the nursery in Sequim! We have pushed this one way back this year due to all the other weekends in September being full. We hope that by that time people will still have money left over for plants, and we may get a little rain by then putting people in the mood for planting. As with the summer open house this will be Friday and Saturday only.

If we can think up anything to do in October we’d like to do it. I wouldn’t mind adding an event in July or August also, if it were only one day. Ideas are welcome.

Also note that we will not be at Sorticulture this year. It was a great, fun event and we did not lose money, but it was not worth the logistical challenges. It was really tough to keep the nursery watered simultaneously with all the back and forth to Everett.

Despite the challenges, regional sales are a lot of fun because it is a chance for us to catch up with other nursery folks as well as customers who live too far away to visit us at the nursery. We hope you will come out to one (or several) of them and see us this year!

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Sequim Garden Show. Hey this looks like fun, right?

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