It is a dilemma. Most of us in the nursery business chose to be here because of our
fascination with plants, arrived at either through gardening or some kind of nature
study. But too soon we find ourselves rushing around with so many details to attend
to, so many jobs that have really nothing at all to do with plants, that we lose
track of the reason we wished to be doing this at all. There is so little time for
the lazy afternoons of quiet observation and contemplation, the ambling through the
garden or the woods or the mountains, that brought us to this place in our lives.
There is no time to putter.
Still, we try to make the time. I like getting up early, especially on spring or
summer mornings, and getting into the nursery when no one else is there, to spend
some quality time alone with the plants. I treasure the time I get to sit on the
edge of a raised bed and spend an hour or so in weeding contemplation. I enjoy the
evenings when I do take the time to notice what is around me without my mind rushing
10 steps ahead of my body, always thinking of the next project, but missing the moment.
I love walking through the garden unconcerned, casually picking a weed or two, not
obsessing or even caring about what isn't done, but instead, just absorbing the beauty
and peace that is there. I love the days spent away in the woods or the mountains
or the Columbia River Gorge, when I can start to restore some inner balance that
has tilted off center. I admit that it too often feels as if I am stealing those
days away, though in truth, they are the more important. And though these times are
more rare than I would like, they do happen. Perhaps it is just a matter of changing
perspective and priorities. I really haven't been able to figure out how to do this
quite yet. But I'm trying. So today, on this second day of the new year, 2006, my
resolution is to 'take more time to putter'. Wish me luck.
So, on to the plants. As we like to do, we continue to find and grow new and interesting
plants. What's new in the catalog this year? Some lovely perennials for the shade
garden - the exquisite white flowered Paeonia japonica comes to mind, and the gorgeous
new Anemone nemerosa 'Stammer Berg' with doubled up fringey petals of pink-tinged-green.
Cimicifuga elata, one of our best and least common NW woodland perennials, is available
this year. We have found it to be a very agreeable garden plant. Clematis columbiana
var. tenuiloba is another of the unusual species Clematis that we like so much. There
are some new epimediums. with more on the way. There are some cool new ferns, a puffy,
double white, extremely fragrant Viola odorata, and, well, lots of things. We have
been selling Leucosceptrum stellipilum on and off for the last few years. It's on
again, so anyone who did not get one previously should take a look at it. This year
we are also carrying its sister species Leucosceptrum japonicum. Trees and shrubs?
Cornus alternifolia 'Golden Shadow' is sure to be popular, as is Cornus kousa var.
chinensis 'Sunsplash'. And we are really excited to have Sinocalycanthus raulstonii
'Hartlage Wine'. There were some losses last year on the newest maples (and some
of the freshly grafted conifers), so we were not able to get them to all of you who
wanted them. We are trying again, and with all good intentions we are listing them.
So far they look good, but unpredictable and inclement weather has a way of playing
havoc with young grafted material, so we are never 100% sure until they start to
grow in spring. We can't keep enough of the Ghost series of Japanese Maples in stock.
We are only listing a couple of them in this catalog, but we will have more on the
WEB site as they becomes available, along with other Japanese Maple cultivars. More
gardeners are discovering the benefits of conifers, and Bill has chosen some great
new ones to offer. Sequoiadendron giganteum 'France Beauty', Thuja orientalis 'Frankie
Boy', Thuja plicata 'Sunshine', Thuja plicata ‘Holly Turner’, Pinus parviflora 'Goldilocks',
Pinus strobus 'Mini Twists', Pinus thunbergii 'Frosty Patches', and Taxodium distichum
'Peve Yellow' come immediately to mind.
So here we go, and as 2006 begins, Bill and I wish you happy gardening. And be sure
to take some time to putter
I went walking late yesterday afternoon at Battle Ground Lake. It’s a short walk,
about a mile around this little caldera of an ancient volcano. It was a crispy clear
day, with ice patches forming in the shadows, frost rimming fallen leaves. No other
humans were there as the day turned dark – but I was hardly alone. A flotilla of
ducks were taking off and landing with regularity, breaking the silence with their
splashing as they kick-started their take off. I watched a big Blue Heron, in slow
motion time, gracefully unfold his big wings and take off from his perch on a drowned
log, like a dancer. For a while I sat silent on a bench watching a little wren hop
around, picking at invisible seeds on the muddy bank. He was almost at my feet before
he looked up and saw me, and, startled, took off like a shot. I was hoping he would
stay. I was mesmerized by the flight circles of a large soaring bird and was astonished
when I realized it was an eagle. I heard the elusive soft hooting of an owl from
I heard a big cedar tree moaning. I put my ear to it and had to peer inside the hollowed
out base to see if there was some sort of animal making this eerie noise, but no,
it was just the tree moaning in the wind. Huge boulders are covered with moss there,
thick and emerald green like some lush upholstery job. Tree trunks are covered with
moss, especially the Big Leaf Maples, where spores are nurtured and little Licorice
Ferneries grow. The ground is covered with moss. Rocks are covered with moss. Downed
logs are covered with moss. The benches and signs are covered with moss. I think
I would be covered with moss if I stayed too long. I love moss. Really, I can’t get
enough of it. Sometimes I bring some home and put it in shallow dish of water on
my table to look at and to smell and try to identify how many different kinds I have
in my small sample. It’s as pretty as roses.
I read somewhere that every day is filled with perfect moments. Its true. One just
has to look and listen.
I think back over this last year and certain moments stand out in my mind, as clear
- Sitting high on a hillside near the top of Dalles Mountain on a cloudless spring
day, the hills covered with happy, bright yellow Balsamorrhiza, a vast field of
small sunflowers against a deep blue sky. I felt like I was inside of a Vincent Van
- A exhilarating windy rainy afternoon in early spring, hiking to the top of Wind
Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge to an ancient spirit quest site, sitting in
a worn hollow with my back against an old Douglas Fir, out of the wind, where so
many must have sought refuge before, and feeling so strongly the energy of generations
- Alone on Silver Star Mountain on my birthday as the setting sun was changing the
distant hills to shades of blue-gray and hazy purple before my eyes, the wildflower
meadows so crisp and full and colorful.
- A warm summer night, the night of the blue moon, Maggie and I driving on impulse
to the Stonehenge replica on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge – a
mere 2½ hour drive - to see the full moon rising. As we drove up to the site it was
already dark but, with perfect timing, the big orange moon was just half way up on
the horizon. We watched as it rose, casting shifting moon shadows through this surrealistic
place that sits on a bluff overlooking the bare hills of eastern Oregon and Washington,
with the Columbia River winding it’s way below, glinting of moonlight.
Perfect moments can be found anywhere, anytime. They are certainly all around us
in our gardens: the setting sun lighting up a Red Twig Dogwood in the winter landscape
- trees in the fog - a plant combination that pleases - a fragile poppy lit up like
a lantern when illuminated from behind – the amazing color combinations within just
one autumn leaf - one perfect flower - a full rainbow against a gray sky, arching
over a row of sunlit trees - a warm quiet night full of stars, the scent of daphne
filling the air, and good friends to share it with. We are fortunate indeed.
So I could go on and on, but I’m running out of room, and now we must talk about
plants. Ah, yes, plants, and the big word this year is conifers. As the garden matures
their presence becomes ever stronger. They are really showing their true form. They
are the framework that gives the garden strength and substance at any time of year.
And yes, some do take up lots of space with time, but there are conifers that fit
every size garden and every style of gardener.
There are over 50 new selections on our list this year (some of these are returning
from years past). There are weepers like Tsuga heterophylla ’Thorsen’, Sequoiadendron
gigantea ‘Pendula’, Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Sparkling Arrow’, and Picea omorika
‘Gotelli’s Weeping’, minis like Pinus mugo ‘Mr. Wood’, Pinus uncinata ‘Grune Welle’,
and Sequoiadendron giganteum ‘Blauer Eichzwerg’, abstract forms like Juniperus rigida
‘Hi Kari’, Pinus monticola ‘Rigby’s Weeping’, and Larix kaempferi ‘Diana’. There
are golds, blues, variegated forms. All kinds - take a look.
We have some gorgeous new variegated maples this year, some neat new ginkgos, and
new hydrangeas, among other offerings in our Trees and Shrubs section. And of course,
we continue to add to our perennials offerings.
So, good gardening to all, and we hope to hear from you this year!
I have always been interested in ‘the big picture’. Before we started in this business,
I had been on my way to a study of nature. Wild plants held the strongest attraction
for me, and I began a personal study of them. It gave me a real practical purpose
to go where I wanted to go – to the woods, to the mountains, on long drives through
the wide open hills of eastern Washington and Oregon. Then we started the nursery
and it seemed like a way to actually make a living and still justify the trips. Well,
as anyone in a small business knows, reality does not always match up with the plans
we might have for ourselves, and the time available for such things became farther
apart as the demands of the business took over. But now, this year, I started to
read seriously about plant evolution – a fascinating subject for me, but I quickly
realized that I did not understand well enough the geological time frames that I
needed to know. That quickly morphed into a study of geology, and as it stands right
now, I am stuck in geology ! It is so interesting and there is so much to learn.
It has taken some of the time away from the study of plants, but I will come back
to it, with a deeper understanding of the big picture. But what it has defined for
me above all else is how much everything in the natural world is so interconnected,
including us, that to really understand one part of it, one has to have at least
a sense of the rest. Obviously this will never end. There is too much to learn. I
think it will keep me busy for the rest of my life. There are worse ways to spend
a life. And this year, once again, I start this new year with a resolve to take the
time I need for this search, as it really is a search for meaning and understanding.
Hope springs eternal, as they say, and the world is an amazing place.
But plants still rule, so on to the business of this year. What’s new? We have over
100 new plants for sale (some of these were offered on our fall list), but some stand
out in my mind. There are a few of our own introductions again. Juncus effusus ‘Blonde
Ambition’ is here – a chance seedling found growing on our greenhouse floor many
years ago, a fun twist on the already twisted Corkscrew Rush, but this one is bright
gold with a corkscrew of a green stripe up each leaf. Epimedium ‘After Midnight’
is ready with its galaxy of white stars against a backdrop of dark chocolatey brown
leaves. Hosta ‘Purple Haze’ and the dynamic Hosta ‘Silver Lining’ are finally available.
We have been offering some Roscoea all along, but this year we have Roscoea ‘Brown
Peacock’, with its tall, purple, cornstalk-like stems and leaves. (Images from China,
spring, 1996, are imprinted on my brain like the photos in a family album, and I
clearly see the meadows filled with R. cautleyoides, R. tibetica and lots of purple
ones, probably R. auriculata, and R. humeana. I made a few selections at the time,
but did not know much about them, really, and if I ever get back in flowering season
I will be more aware of what I am looking at and will be able to recognize the superior
selections that are undoubtedly there.) There are also quite a few new small flowered
Clematis to choose from.
Burgundy leafed Mukdenia rossii ‘Crimson Fans’ promises to be popular, as do both
Echinaea ‘Prairie Frost’ and E. ‘Sparkler’, 2 new variegated Coneflowers. We are
excited that the incredible Podophyllum ‘Kaleidoscope’ has returned. Japanese Maples
are extremely popular and this year, among others, we are carrying the new ‘Ghost’
For the conifer collectors out there, Bill is grafting lots of new ones - there is
something for everyone, for those just venturing into the conifer world and to those
who think they have it all. To the beginners, I strongly suggest starting with something
new and unusual. You will be glad years from now as they mature, as you will definitely
have something your neighbors won’t have, and trees are not as easy to replace as
perennials. Some new forms this year are the golden Picea sitchensis ‘Bentham’s Sunlight’
with a fascinating history, the strictly pendulous Picea omorika ‘Berliner‘s Weeping‘,
the twisty branched Picea pungens ’Curve Ball’, the flat lying Larix decidua ‘Puli’
and the little bun-like form of Pinus mugo ’Little Delight’. For great colored foliage,
try Pinus parviflora ‘Ogon Janome’ (not new to this catalog, but a classic beauty).
and for pure cuteness, nothing beats Picea abies ’Pusch’ with its multitudes of upright
cones on such a little plant.
And don’t forget to keep checking our WEB page for updates!
Even though these are out of date, I kind of like them, as a little insight into
what I was feeling and thinking at the time, so I have included them.