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April 2006 Newsletter

Seasons greetings to all! First off, I must apologize for the delay in sending orders and putting the new seed list on my web site. All orders received and pending trades have been filled as of now, so if you did not get something you ordered, please contact me.

I have been off seed collecting in the most magical of places! This, of course, is Narnia. Unfortunately, in Narnia it is always winter and never Christmas. So, while I looked continually for interesting plants with ripe seed, I found that everything was buried under the snow: not once did Father Christmas give me any reward for my efforts.

Now that I am back in Poulsbo, however, this 44 degree windy weather feels downright hot! And I am ready for spring! In fact, even though we have not had any significant above average weather in at least two months, I am sure one of these days it will suddenly get to about 90 degrees and all my plants will get roasted, as occurred last year.

Bearing in mind my need to prepare for events such as this, as well as (to keep a long story short) two weather related catastrophes that occurred last winter (and some more minor non-weather-related catastrophes), I have decided to make some changes in the operations of The Desert Northwest.

To start with, I'm canceling the spring 2006 shipping season for plants, because most of my plants are simply not up to par. Partly my time has been taken up by building greenhouses and recovering from last winter's disasters, but also, the cold spring has really slowed everything down. (On the other hand you could say that buys me some time!) I will be focusing more this year on taking better care of my plants that will be for sale, rather than trying to do everything at once, and just try to get a nice inventory prepared for the spring 2007 season (I may skip the fall 2006 season as well; I'm not sure yet!).

Second, I will continue to offer seeds at any time. However, I'm going to keep the seed list a little bit on the small side or I will never keep everything organized. Considering the rising costs of shipping plants, I may consider restricting future mail order plants to small sizes (i.e. less than 1 gallon) and work towards building up a stock of larger unusual plants for local retail sales. This is at least a year or two in the future, so stay tuned!

Third, and related to the previous point, I am going to offer fewer of those really tender Mexican things and focus more on plants that are not completely hopeless for our climate, and will not require as much heat to overwinter successfully in the greenhouse.

So in summary, the ball is still rolling, albeit slowly. For now I will continue to offer seeds and hopefully add more interesting content on the site to generate interest. My commitment to quality of plants, seeds and information remains the same.

I have lots of exciting new seeds!!!!! I am keeping prices the same for those items that I offered last year, and quantities with each packet will also remain the same. I continue to have great confidence in the quality of my seeds, since I collected all of them myself once again, except for Nolina nelsoni, which comes from a knowledgeable desert-plant-enthusiast-friend.

Desert plant growers in cold areas will be interested in my high altitude collections of a couple Agave and Yucca species, including A. parryi, A. neomexicana, Y. schottii, and Y. elata. Of particular interest is a collection of Y. elata subsp. verdiensis, an exceptionally cold-hardy, though smaller, form of this fabulous, and, I think, underappreciated species.

My most exciting collection, in my opinion, is the rare Nolina parryi subsp. wolfii, a little-known giant Nolina from the interior mountains of California. I have never heard of anyone else offering this plant, though it may be in some botanic garden somewhere. It ought to be very cold hardy too!

Lastly, I have added a new discussion board to the web site! I think this will be a lot of fun, and a place to discuss anything from native cacti to propagation to dry gardening with species from around the world. Please visit my discussion board and share your experience!

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