Greetings from Juniper Level! We hope you are having a great winter if such is possible. If you are near Oswego, New York, we’re really sorry that you are buried under 5′ of snow, but I bet your perennials are staying warm. We have just had our fourth snowstorm of the winter, which is quite a bit for our area. We haven’t had more than 3″ at a time, but the road crews are still about to mutiny.
I’m just back from a week of speaking and nursery/garden hopping in Kaahlifornia (Austrian Ebonics), from San Diego north to Santa Barbara. It was a real treat to speak to the Garden Club of America Horticulture Committee at the Huntington Botanical Garden along with old friends Ann Lovejoy and Richard Hartlage. The staff at the Huntington was wonderful and I can’t recommend a visit there highly enough If you have any interest in aloes and agaves, the Huntington Desert Collection alone is worthy of a full day visit. It was also a treat to spend time at the Quail Botanical Gardens north of San Diego, and Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens. Quail Botanic Gardens has a much more tropical feel with fabulous plant collections from around the world. Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens focuses on California native plants and is a tremendous resource for studying the wide array of native plants.
I visited quite a few nurseries as well. In the retail world, Nuccio’s Nursery in Pasadena was just delightful. I had heard of Nuccio’s for years, but the chance to spend half a day with Tom Nuccio was very special. He is a tremendous lover of all plants, not just the azaleas and camellias in which they specialize. Just south of Los Angeles, I was able to stop and visit the mail order nursery Kartuz. I’ve ordered from Mike Kartuz since the 1970’s and never had the opportunity to meet in person. His mail order nursery specializes in house plants, especially gesneriads and begonias. Nearby was Buena Creek Gardens of Steve and Donna Brigham. This charming nursery is home to a wide array of plants from daylilies to California natives. Steve had visited PDN many years earlier and it was great to have an opportunity to finally visit his operation. It shouldn’t be much longer before his fabulous new variegated (stable) daylily hits the market.
I was also fortunate to stop by a number of wholesale operation including Rancho Soledad Nursery which specializes in huge sizes of agaves, aloes, and palms; Hammer Nursery, home of world renown plant explorer Gary Hammer, Greenlee Nursery, home of ornamental grass guru John Greenlee, Native Sons Nursery of plantsman Dave Fross and his wife Rainey; San Marcos Growers where Randy Baldwin produces landscape size specimens of a treasure trove of rarities; and Rancho Tissue Technologies where owner Heather May is tissue culturing an array of plants that have never been done before.
Speaking of agaves, we are coordinating a meeting of agave collectors to be held in the San Francisco area from April 9-11. Brian Kemble at the Ruth Bancroft Garden has put together a great program for April 9 at the Ruth Bancroft Garden, which will be followed by other tours and chances to network with other agaviphiles. If you want to spend a few days talking agaves and aloes, drop us a line at email@example.com for more details.
If you participated in our Top 25 contest, the first month results are below. I hope you will find your choices in the top, but if not, don’t fret as the top sellers often change dramatically as the season changes. Be sure to “root” for your top picks as we post the standings each month. If you didn’t get your entry forms in before our Feb. 15 deadline, you are welcome to play along at home and study for next year’s contest.
In the category of other trivial data, we like to pass along our nursery analysis of where our customers are located. This month, we thought you would be interested in seeing the list of states that produced the most orders for 2003. Is your state is in the top 25? If not, why?
1. North Carolina
2. New York
7. New Jersey
14. South Carolina
If you have inquired about volunteering in the construction of the waterfall on Mt. Michelle, this project is underway. If you live near the garden and are interested in helping on this project, please email garden curator Adrienne Roethling.