It’s not quite October and already I’ve had to decide what we will grow for next year. Seed sowing is underway and began in late August with some species, shrubs mostly, with seeds that need a warm and moist treatment period in order to germinate next spring.
In some cases, the decision of what to grow began earlier in the year when seed collection was made in the field (no seeds=no plants!) The mix of natives we grow has changed each year as I learn more about the demand for each species, as well as how difficult they are to germinate and/or keep alive. One year I grew close to 50 lovely little cushion buckwheats (Eriogonum ovalifolium), choice plants for a rock garden; within the following year I sold perhaps 20 and killed most of the rest (root rot!)
Another year I was intrigued by Western coneflower (Rudbeckia occidentalis) and, as they are pretty easy to grow, produced about 100; two years later I had 80 overgrown plants that got tossed.
Over the past two seasons the biggest factor leading to species being dropped has been time, specifically mine. The business has grown each year but has taken off recently in the production of woody species for environmental restoration projects. Most of these plants, like roses and willows, are much easier to grow then alpine wildflowers (and more lucrative; selling 2000 of one species trumps 20). So, with some mixed feelings, more of the wildflowers we’ve grown, especially the fussy ones, are getting the axe. If you ever wanted to buy a Douglas buckwheat or a showy penstemon come soon as their days at Derby Canyon Natives are numbered!
See ya, showy penstemon
Hasta la vista, mountain balm/coyote mint (Monardella odoratissima)
Note to alpine and rock garden enthusiasts (including me): I can’t help but pocket seeds of cool plants when out hiking in the mountains during the summer. I hope to come up with some special plants every year; ask, and we’ll see what we’ve got! I hope those seeds of mountain pride (Penstemon newberryi) germinate well…