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!


The Desert Northwest
PO Box 3475
Sequim, WA 98382


A snapshot of the Sequim Garden Show from 2015.


10 Year Blogiversary!

Can you believe it was 10 years ago that I started this blog?  I’m not sure I can.  Here’s a link to the very first blog post.  You will see that it is very exciting (not).  I think I just wanted to have something on there so people would not go to just a blank page, and I didn’t feel a lot of pressure to produce meaningful content right off the bat.

I have a total of 110 blog posts.  That amounts to just shy of one per month, but there have been periods of more activity interspersed with some long breaks.  This year I am going to attempt to be a little more frequent and consistent with the posts, but not unrealistically so.  I’ll be happy if I manage to post twice per month, but maybe give myself a break if it’s a little less frequent during the very busy season.

So on this exciting occasion, let’s do some reflecting.  A lot has happened in ten years.  When I started this blog not a lot of people were on Facebook (including me).  This blog was my outlet for information and connecting with plant people.  Now that has all changed.  But Facebook isn’t quite what it used to be either.  I almost think separate social media platforms are needed for discussing plants and political banter.  I’m glad I didn’t totally give up on my blog.

In ten years I feel like I have almost started learning how to run a nursery.  (The nursery itself goes back to 2005.)   From a financial standpoint the nursery continues to do slightly better every year.  If I can meet some goals this year perhaps it will do a lot better.  One likes to be optimistic!  One of those goals is to transition to a complete online shopping cart.  What’s holding me back, you might wonder?  Well, it’s simply that there are many steps between assessing inventory on the ground to the finished product of a functional shopping cart.  I need to count quantities, write descriptions, find photos, and more.  Oh well, I will get there somehow.  I believe in working hard but I am also quite meticulous.  I have opted to keep putting it off rather than do a sloppy job of it.  Other processes such as shipping, potting up, inventory management and so forth continue to be more streamlined, a word which makes this fact sound impressive.

Looking ahead in the nursery department, I did not get terribly far afield this year to collect cuttings.  I did not go on any plant hunting trips or botanical exploration in natural areas, not even locally.  But the propagation area is full, mostly of cuttings from friends’ local gardens, so there will still be a lot of great stuff for sale next year.  Notably, we visited Mike Lee’s Arbor Heights Botanic Garden in West Seattle, which is really coming along nicely.  If we’re lucky perhaps I’ll manage to post photos of that in the near future. Many cuttings from Mike are already rooting.  We also returned to Hummingbird Hill Villa, about which I posted a year ago.  We went the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Arctostaphylos ‘Austin Griffiths’ was already blooming!  We thank the owners of these gardens for their generosity.  (The funny thing is, nearly six weeks later I still haven’t quite finished processing the Hummingbird Hill cuttings.  But they have been carefully stored and, remarkably, they still look fine.  I continue to go through them as the chance allows and hope to finish tomorrow.)

Besides all these cuttings, I’m also hoping to increase our selection of seed-grown plants like Eucalyptus and Acacia this year–plants we haven’t offered a lot of in a while, but we should.  And I’m also looking through some of the stuff we used to sell way back when the nursery started and asking, what can I propagate that we haven’t offered in a long time, that people would want to buy?

Also in the works, I am hoping to re-introduce seeds for sale.  But it is going to be a rather humble beginning, as many of my sources back when we had more seeds are no longer available.  Various plants/trees froze, and I haven’t done any collecting in the Southwest, or around Seattle.  So this may not be a huge deal.  But as the chance arises I’ll just continue to collect what I can.  So far I have managed to collect about 15 species from plants like Eucalpytus, Callistemon and Leptospermum in quantity enough to sell.  I’ll see what else I can come up with.  Stay tuned for more news about this hopefully by February!

Finally, I’ll mention that I’m hoping I feel like I can afford to cut back on regional plant sales a bit this year.  It’s tempting to try to fill every weekend with one event after the other, but I have to consider how much valuable nursery time I am missing, and how far behind I get in the spring (especially on potting up cuttings and seedlings) by not staying home as much as possible.  I’ll be making some decisions about that soon, and I’m certainly not giving them all up. I have already reserved my usual booth at the Sequim Garden Show, which is coming up the third weekend of March.

How about this cold weather?  I admit we view it as a bit of a hassle when it lasts this long. We have now had three separate “arctic blast” type events, which is an awful lot of them for one winter, and we still have a good deal more winter to go.  Between everything being frozen and me being sick for that brief period after Christmas when we were above freezing, there have been periods where work has kind of come to a standstill.  (That’s why the Hummingbird Hill cuttings aren’t done!)  But when I can, besides sticking cuttings, I continue to clean up the first three greenhouses when we’re above freezing.  I have also organized my bamboos, which needed doing, and cleaned out the shade house, and I have a big project going now with organizing pots. Winter stuff, we might say.

We did not get a lot of snow, which is good.  No more than an inch fell at any one time, though with everything being frozen, there is still some out there now.  “Snow is a good insulator,” the saying goes, but what they don’t tell you is that it’s hardly worth it when snow cover on the ground substantially drops the air temperature at night from what it otherwise would be.  So we say no thanks to snow if we can avoid it.  Our coldest temperature has been 20°F, which is annoying but it could have been much worse.

And, importantly for my personal sanity, the freezing weather is great for catching up on various projects indoors that have been neglected for too long.  Spreadsheets about plant hardiness, organizing files, cleaning e-mail inboxes, cataloging photos, and the like.  I have been about five years behind on listing all the plants pictured in the photos I have taken.  But now I am catching up!  I have to know where to find the photos of various plants on my hard drive if I am going to use them.  The only unfortunate thing is it is just on a spreadsheet–If there were any fancy photo organizing programs when I started this 11 years ago, I did not know about them.  Now I think that’s too big of a leap to make.

I suppose that’s all the news that’s fit to print, and then some!  I’m sure most of my readers are looking forward to winter being over as much as I am, so we can all get on with planting!  Here are a few random photos:


Nursery on December 6th.


Little plants all snug and warm in the greenhouse.  Isn’t that cute?


An ice plant covered in ice.  It seemed appropriate. Isn’t it an ice plant?

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 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 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.


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


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


Grevillea and Banksia section, freshly cleaned up.


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.


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


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


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.


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!

Spiky Plants of Sequim

About two weeks ago I took my youngest family member on a bicycle tour of some of the spiky plants growing around Sequim.  I thought I would share the photos, but first I’ll make mention of a couple brief notes.

Did you miss our fall Open House the weekend before last?  Well that may be because I neglected to advertise it.  Or perhaps that isn’t the reason.  In any case, we’re planning to have one more open day this year on October 29th.  Stay tuned for more information on that!  Of course, you’re still welcome to come out by appointment on another day if you like.

The other big news is greenhouse 4 is finally done.  Well, it doesn’t have doors, or irrigation, but these are minor details.  The main thing is it has plastic on it and looks great.  The plastic expands when it is warm and contracts when cold, so it has to go on when it is warm (or hot) and sunny or it doesn’t fit well.  Thanks to assistance once again from our volunteer Bob, we got the job done just in time last week, when it was sunny and relatively mild.  Now of course the fall-like weather has set in.  We are happy to have some new uncluttered and open space as it will help us to clean through parts of the other greenhouses that are overcrowded.

Finally we (well just me actually) had the pleasure last month of visiting a nursery I really like, Wild Ginger Farm, which is located southeast of Portland.  They specialize in alpine plants and have a fine selection of Penstemons, Lewisias, Lilies, dryland native plants, and much more.  We thank Truls Jensen, the owner, for a nursery tour.  Very nice folks. We recommend you check them out!

All right, now on to the spiky plants tour!


First we have this Yucca patch just outside of town.  These appear to be Yucca glauca or a similar species (there are several that look more or less like this).  Might not be all that exciting for some of my readers, but this is actually a very rare plant in these parts, one which nurseries almost never sell even though it is easy to grow and does great here.  The homeowners (one presumes) have tried to kill this thing off a time or two, but it always returns from the roots.


In another yard, here’s a perfect, mature specimen of Hesperaloe parviflora.  I have pictured this plant on my blog before… a really long time ago.  (I’m sure you all remember that, right? Ha ha.)  It has grown nicely since then; I guess it really likes Sequim!


This Opuntia engelmannii on Hammond St. is probably a “child” of the large specimen of this species that used to grow at a storefront in Carlsborg.  I’ve posted about that plant before as well.  It’s nice to see someone who likes cacti enough to keep them going.  I have seen a couple others around town too, which are probably all this same clone.


Here’s a yard on the south side of town planted by someone who really likes interesting plants.  This is a Dasylirion that appears to be too green to be D. wheeleri, but I can’t be certain.  I can hardly tell these things apart and they are kind of a taxonomic challenge.  It may be D. longissimum. I wonder where they got it?


In the same yard, an outstanding specimen of Yucca rostrata.  Just look how happy this thing is in Sequim.  (The Gunnera in the background isn’t exactly what I think of as a combination plant for Yucca rostrata, but like I said this yard is definitely about the plants!)


Then right in downtown Sequim along Washington Street (which is basically Sequim’s main drag), the city (presumably) has planted some cute little Yuccas.  I think this is again Y. rostrata but it will be a few years before it looks as good as the specimen pictured earlier.


This wider shot shows where they are planted, in little islands on both sides of the street.  I actually think this is great.  But I have a few questions.  Did whoever selected these know how tall they can get?  Are they going to be a problem being planted so close next to those large deciduous trees?  (I have to admit I didn’t even notice what those were.)  How long will it be before someone complains about getting poked by them, and the city is pressured to take them out?  That would be a shame, but not really surprising if it happens down the road.


Not spiky, but this is Arctostaphylos densiflora ‘Howard McMinn’ at the new Sequim Civic Center.  We sell this, and a few plants from our nursery have found their way into city plantings.  In general, I am pleased to see the city getting a little more adventurous with the use of dryland plants (we’ll ignore that dogwood at upper left for now).


Also not spiky, but I have passed this Eucalyptus gunnii on Cedar St. a million times without stopping to photograph it, so I figured I’d better do that.


Now what is this, across 5th Avenue on Spruce St.?  Hint: it’s not a spruce.  (Although spruces are prickly.)


That’s right–it’s an honest to goodness Agave.  Although not enormous it is certainly large enough to make a statement.  The owners had this plant in a pot for a long time.  After a while it apparently grew too large to overwinter in their sunroom, and they let it sit outside in a pot for a year or two, even through a winter that went down to 17°F.  It must have rooted into the ground from its pot because I later saw it tipped on its side for a couple months. For a while there I was worried they were going to get rid of it or something.  But no, they just wanted to create this special planting bed to put it in, which took them some time. Now it looks happily at home.


The big question, of course, is what kind of Agave is it?  It looks a good deal like A. americana, but one does not expect that species to survive 17°F in a pot without a scratch in the Pacific Northwest, as this plant did.  In my experience A. americana gets frost damage in a normal winter, and the couple times I put it in the ground it failed. However, it’s not totally out of the question, as there is a good deal of variation in different clones of A. americana.  My next best guess would be A. protamericana, but who knows.  It’s happy and I’m enjoying keeping an eye on it.

Well, if we went a little farther out of town there would be a few more plants I could show you, but that was all I had time for that morning, so it will have to do for now.  All of these plants are rather special.  Some might consider them to be “pushing the boundaries” of what will grow here, but I just think of them as plants that make sense in a relatively drier part of the Pacific Northwest, and require virtually no care.  It’s not like the Agave needs that drip emitter on it! They are actually very practical, and they look different than the same boring stuff everyone else puts in their yards.

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

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.

What’s blooming on December 19th? You’d be surprised!

Traditionally, many people in the Northwest don’t think of December as a time of year for gardening. The days are short, it rains all the time and everyone who still doesn’t hate Christmas (judging from Facebook, this seems to be a growing trend) is busy with Christmas plans. Late fall, it is assumed, is when the garden goes to sleep so we don’t have to think about it until spring. If your garden looks ugly and dead by December, by which time we have usually had a few hard frosts, no one will judge you for it.

But after they see this garden on Whidbey Island, perhaps they will. (Is that how I wanted to start this paragraph? Maybe not.) Let’s put it this way. Hummingbird Hill garden, which we visited over the weekend, shows us how one can achieve excellent success creating year-round interest in the garden right here in the Northwest. It was created by the late Bob Barca, with a great deal of assistance from his family who continue to maintain it. Sadly, Bob passed away unexpectedly a couple years ago.

Mostly the photos below highlight the plants that are in bloom now. Of course, creating year round interest also involves making good use of interesting evergreen foliage and structure. That could be another whole post. For now though we’ll take a look at what actually blooms at this time of year around here, that more people should be growing. I think you may be surprised!  You’ll notice that Grevilleas are kind of a big deal.


View to the residence. I feel that a couple large Olearias and/or Leptospermums may have been removed from this area, but in a garden like this, who’s counting them?



A fine specimen of Grevillea miqueliana subsp. moroka greets you as you pull up.



Adjacent the front gate is Grevillea victoriae ‘Marshall Olbrich’.



Grevillea victoriae subsp. nivalis ‘Murray Valley Queen’ is truly one of the best Grevilleas. It is a prolific bloomer from October through April and sometimes longer, and hummingbirds love the flowers.



Grevillea lavandulacea ‘Penola’ isn’t quite blooming yet, though it’s budded up.


This is a newer cultivar selected by Xera Plants, Grevillea x ‘Neil Bell’ with good hardiness and large flowers.


It’s now been so long since I’ve worked in conventional nurseries that I can’t remember what this is. But hey, it’s blooming.


Melianthus major, not blooming, but it looked so great I had to include it in this post. Melianthus generally grows in winter in nature, and looks best when the weather is cool.



Arctostaphylos rudis, native to southern California, but it does fine in milder Northwest gardens.


Grevillea ‘Poorinda Leane’. Bob bought several of these from us (along with quite a few other plants) and they have all flourished, surviving below 10°F when they were much smaller (in November 2010). It is one of the hardiest and easiest Grevilleas to grow.


Grevillea victoriae subsp. victoriae, not as floriferous as ‘Murray Valley Queen’, but hardy and dependable.


Ooh it’s winter blooming heather. OK, not that rare, but it fits the theme.


Another manzanita, which is almost certainly the cultivar ‘Austin Griffiths’, a known December bloomer. If those flowers look an awful lot like that winter-blooming heather, well they are in the same family!


Grevillea x ‘Audrey’. This blooms nearly year-round in the Northwest.


Acacia boormannii, not blooming yet but in full bud. This isn’t actually hardy, however, and was certainly planted sometime after the aforementioned winter of 2010-11. Acacia pravissima, also not really hardy but tougher than this species, was in full bud as well. These should start opening up around mid-January or so.


Abutilon megapotamicum.


Grevillea x gaudichaudii, OK, it’s not blooming, but it looks so cool that we don’t mind.


Thanks largely to the nectar-rich Grevillea flowers, hummingbirds seem to really like to hang out in this garden!

So that will have to wrap it up and I hope you enjoyed the tour. I suppose I had better mention that we have most of these plants for sale at any given time, or at least similar items. If you want a garden with cool stuff that blooms in winter, you know where to find them.

Also as this is my last post of the year, let me say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! We wish all the best to you and your family.

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