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!



Desert Northwest OPEN HOUSE this weekend!

Hi Folks,

Well, open house weekend has sneaked up on me again, but at least this
time I’m getting the newsletter out two days before the day of, instead of
half a day before (e-mail version only, not this blog post!). So as usual we will be open this Friday and Saturday with limited signage and all that. Details and directions are found here.

Also as usual, I’m still behind on everything, so the web site is still
not updated (I don’t even want to talk about that. LOL). But if you have
seen us at the regional sales, you know we have a lot of good nursery
stock out there that looks fresh and is ready to find a home in your
garden. It was interesting at the last open house how visitors gravitated
towards the somewhat overgrown greenhouses because they look “full,”
rather than the new greenhouse, which has a lot of great stuff in it but
may look “sparse.” Well the reason it looks that way is I’m not going to
fill it up with plants that looks rough because they needs attention.
First we pot it up, then put it out there, so everything out there looks
splendid. So don’t be shy about going into the new greenhouse—that’s the
one that still has no plastic on it, which is fine because it won’t be too

So not having the web site up to date, I’d better talk about some of the
exciting plants we have in stock. We may hope that a plant name or two
will jump out at you as something you have been looking for or have an
interest in trying.

In the Chilean department, Luma apiculata is looking good, and we have
plenty of both the “usual” form and hardy form selected by Sean Hogan.
This small tree has attractive peeling bark, showy white flowers, edible
berries and it’s evergreen. Also looking good now are Azara microphylla,
the rare A. dentata with conspicuous yellow flowers, some unusual showy
Escallonias we bet you haven’t seen; and little pots of Maytenus boaria, a
beautiful evergreen tree from Chile with fine weeping foliage.

In the New Zealand department, Olearias have received a lot of attention
lately on social media, and we have a whole lot of them available. One of
them in particular, an evergreen shrub with gray leaves and white flowers
smelling of coconut, has been talked about quite a lot. This plant has
been sold as O. cheesemanii and O. x mollis, but we’ll admit to stirring
the pot (no pun intended?) a bit by insisting (based on my research, of
course) the correct name for this plant is O. x oleifolia. In any case it
is a great plant, and we have plenty of it in 4” pots. We also have about
12 other Olearias in stock including the olive-like O. lineata, showy and
fragrant O. x haastii and toothy leaved O. macrodonta. Most of these are
in little pots but a few larger specimens are out there as well, and
anyway they are quick and easy growers. Also in the New Zealand
department Pittosporum colensoi is looking good, as are little pots of
Corokia cotoneaster (wire netting bush), Astelia nervosa ‘Westland’ and
Griselinia littoralis, and a million kinds of hardy Hebes.

Conifers are still looking great. Notably Araucaria angustifolia is back;
YuccaDo used to sell little pots of this for $30 so I don’t feel bad for
asking $24. We have a good crop of Juniperus maritima right now; this
tree-sized juniper is special since it only exists west of the Cascades
and is very rare. It is a fine drought-tolerant native tree. We continue
to offer Chilean conifers such as Fitzroya and Podocarpus salignus, both
looking great. And then we even have odds and ends like Chamaecyparis
‘Karst’ (—I’m now a little mystified as a google search turns up nothing
for this plant).

In the Australian plants department, we have our best selection in a long
time of Callistemon and Leptospermum in both 1 gallon and 4” sizes. If
you have been saying to yourself (as I’m sure you have) I need a bunch of
1 gallon hardly bottlebrushes, well now you know where to find them. Some
of the really showy ones like C. linearis var. pumila and our own ‘Hot
Pink’ are available and looking great. Our purple-leaf form of
Leptospermum lanigerum is looking good, as is L. lanigerum, L.
namadgiensis, ‘Eugene Hardy’, and others. The silvery Ozothamnus hookeri
‘Sussex Silver’ and O. coralloides remain available in quantity. Also in
the Australian department are a fine selection of the reliable, tough and
long-blooming Grevillea ‘Poorinda Leane’ in 1 gallon and 2 gallon sizes,
and G. rivularis in 4” pots, a very rare species with deeply cut, prickly
leaves and mauve flowers.

Mass production of the fancy Arctostaphylos species from the Siskiyous
continues to elude us, but we do have a lot of nice 1 gallons of reliable
manzanitas such as A. densiflora ‘Howard McMinn’, ‘Pacific Mist’, and A. x
media. We also have A. rudis which is exciting because it blooms in
December. Ceanothus ‘Blue Jeans’ and C. gloriosus ‘Emily Brown’ are both
looking good; these species have deep blue flowers and are not encountered
nearly often enough.

In the Mediterranean department, myrtles (Myrtus communis) are still a
thing, and we bet you don’t have a Cytisus sessilifolius. This yellow
flowered broom relative looks nothing like other brooms and doesn’t seed
itself. Tree heath, Erica arborea var. alpina, is also a good drought
tolerant shrub you need. What could be cooler than a heather that grows
10′ tall? Your neighbors don’t have that.

Finally, our hardy Opuntia table looks great; everything has put on new
growth. This table consists of perhaps 20 Opuntia selections, mostly from
smaller growing and native populations, but a couple larger types as well.
Of particular interest are a few of the Opuntia fragilis/columbiana (?)
collections from the interior of British Columbia that we have finally
gotten into production. They are kinda small but exciting for the avid
collector of hardy cacti. We also have quite a few forms of O. fragilis
and O. columbiana; the latter is from eastern Washington but it does great
out here in the right spot, such as in a rock garden.

Well if you have read this far, thanks for reading, and for your continued
interest in our nursery. If you are waiting to hear from us about an
order we hope to do some catching up in August and you are always free to
bug us again. We hope to see you soon if not this weekend!

Thanks, Ian & Co.
The Desert Northwest
PO Box 3475
Sequim, WA 98382