Just What Is The Desert Northwest?
First and foremost, it is a nursery. But we also like to think we are a somewhat special nursery because of certain unique objectives and principles we hold. Here are a few of our founding principles.
The Pacific Northwest is dry every summer, yet most of us still haven’t managed to effectively plan our gardens around this fact. We think that successful gardening should rely less on irrigation and more on appropriate plant selection and gardening practices. To that end we offer an ever expanding range of plants that adapt to the climate of the Northwest needing no supplemental water once established. We also advocate variations on this theme according to the situation, including “common sense gardening” and xeriscaping.
Rare plants and conservation
Most nurseries offer a narrow range of the same sorts of plants – yawn. Even the largest and most prestigious garden centers offer only a much narrower selection than most people realize, when compared to the vast selection of Northwest-adapted, garden-worthy plants found throughout the world. So many of these plants offer exciting prospects for gardeners, yet it seems no one is thinking outside the box. Included in this category are many hardy cacti and succulents that are not commonly grown in the Northwest simply because the public regards them as “unconventional.”
Additionally, we strongly support ex-situ conservation as a valuable complement to the protection of rare plants in the wild. Many rare or threatened plants should be promoted as garden plants both to promote public awareness of them and to serve as a genetic resource in case of extinction in the wild.
Lest we seem too locally focused, many of the plants we grow are just as worthy of cultivation in other parts of the country as well, and the more broadly they are grown and known, the more effectively they will be preserved.
Experimenting and researching
Because nurseries traditionally offer a limited selection of plants, information about the performance of vast numbers of plants in Northwest gardens is lacking, simply because few gardeners (or no gardeners, in some cases!) have tried them. We are out to alleviate this problem by trialing all kinds of rare and exciting plants in our garden, frequently in a variety of settings, and keeping detailed records of their performance over time. We also study the climate and flora of various parts of the world with the objective of introducing and trialing more plants from these regions.
Species rather than cultivars
Here’s a point where we distinguish ourselves even from most other specialty nurseries. We do not hold to the idea that cultivars – those plants deliberately bred in cultivation, for garden use – are necessarily better than wild species of plants. Some are certainly excellent, but far too many are nothing more than marketing ploys by plant breeders seeking to make money from patent rights: these plants often prove to be very wimpy and short-lived garden subjects. Others seem redundant: one can only have so many variations on a theme before it gets boring (does the world really need another Hosta?).
We offer only a very limited selection of cultivars. More commonly, we select individuals of species with superior genetic traits, or simply grow from seed which promotes genetic variability. We believe that, on a broad scale, maintaining genetic diversity and using plant species that exist in nature ultimately creates a garden that is stronger, more care-free, and more tolerant of disease and drought. In almost every other nursery one sees exactly the opposite trend: more cultivars, more patented plants, more high-maintenance plants, and less genetic variation.
Local, environmentally responsible production
Fifty years ago nurseries were businesses that grew plants and sold them. Today, many retail “nurseries” (which might be more accurately called “plant stores”) don’t propagate or produce anything at all – rather, stock is purchased from wholesale nurseries and plant brokers, and sold to the public by salespeople who frequently have no direct experience growing many of the plants offered. While we don’t think this business model is inherently evil, we feel that it is not the way of the future in the nursery industry as the public becomes more interested in supporting local production. We propagate and grow all of the plants we sell here at the nursery in Sequim. Growing our own stock has always been important to us, and we do not buy in plants from other nurseries for resale. This enables us to offer the best possible advice about every plant we offer, since we have direct experience with them all.
Our cultural practices adhere to the principles of organic gardening: we do not use chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or anything else environmentally irresponsible. We do not collect plants from the wild: rarely these are grown from responsibly, legally collected seed or cuttings, but most often, we will have obtained our stock plant from another source and increased it here at the nursery.
Educating the public
We believe that gardeners are increasingly interested in ways of saving time, money, and water. Also, we think there are many out there who remain passionate about plants regardless of the state of the economy or other concerns of the day. To that end we have begun publishing articles about plants and gardening on our web site. We are available for advice in developing your xeric garden via e-mail or in person. We hope that many more classes, handouts, other resources, and possibly books will be in our future.
Family and friends
We are a small business that would not be able to succeed without the aid of family and friends with various projects. We wish to acknowledge their generous assistance which has taken many forms over a long period of time.