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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

We'll Miss You, High Country Gardens

hcg covers copy
Sadly, I think I'll remember 2012 mostly for the closing of two of my favorite garden resources, Wind Dancer down in Salem...and now, as I found out last week, High Country Gardens, which is based in New Mexico.

I'm sure most of you have heard of HCG...and I certainly talked about them quite a bit over the past few years. Getting their catalogs (above) has always been a treat...filled with colorful photos and ravishing descriptions...they always made me salivate a bit! Sadly, due to drought, wildfires, and a slumping economy, HCG was forced to close its doors, ending 19 years of selling amazing plants.

hcg spread
HCG grew many different plants, but their focus was in xeric, or water-wise, plants. I first discovered them years ago, back when I lived in Nebraska. The idea of Xeric gardening was still pretty new to me back then...and browsing the HCG web site was the first time I had seen Xeric applied to anything other than Cacti & Yuccas...it was amazing!

Of course, that was about the same time I moved to Portland. For the first few years I lived in Portland, I was a renter...and never did much gardening, since I never knew where my next home would be. I had a few small gardens...but nothing terribly involved. For a time, I forgot about HCG...I lived in Portland, OR, after all...what did we need drought-tolerant plants for!

agastache
After you live here for a year or two, however, you realize that it's only rainy during winter. During summer, it doesn't rain...like, AT ALL. It's a little freaky when the rain stops like someone threw a switch. Unless you really want to spend the entire summer watering constantly, having a few plants that are at least a little drought-tolerant is pretty beneficial.

After we finally bought our first house, and I started planting the garden, bit-by-bit, I remembered all the online nursery websites I used to spend time on...but couldn't order from, as I didn't actually have a garden. I re-discovered HCG...and ordered a few plants that first year. It was my first time EVER ordering plants online...and you all know that feeling...the first time you open up the box and are stunned to find scrappy, spindly plants!

I planted them, however, and they grew rapidly and were beautiful, even in their first year. It was also the first Agastache I ever purchased ('Desert Sunrise'). I had been convinced to try them because of the glowing praise and great photos on the website. As you all know by now...I was HOOKED! After seeing how healthy and vigorous the plants were, I was now a loyal customer.

HCG box closeup  039
Over the past few years, I've ordered a few more plants from them each winter, to be delivered in the spring...and it was always exciting to get off my bus after work and see that familiar box, full of plants, ready to be unpacked. It's sad to think my order this spring was also my last.

september backyard  1178
So, I thank you, Dave Salman and all the crew there in Albuquerque...I know I'm not alone in saying, you'll be sorely missed.

37 comments:

  1. I'm very sorry to hear that! I've never ordered from HCG, but I've read about them a number of times. You hate to see an independent business that offered something unique close down.

    By the way, I didn't know you were from Nebraska originally. Never lived there, but visited Lincoln frequently for a job I used to have, and traveled from Omaha to Scottsbluff on a few occasions. Go Huskers!

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    1. It's always sad, isn't it. Yeah...born and raised in Nebraska...although I don't think I'd ever live there again...it's pretty harsh!

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  2. I'm very sad to read this. I've loved High Country Gardens for quite some time, and credit them for introducing me to the wonderful world of agastaches. Coming from California, I had drilled into my brain the importance of drought tolerance, and while it was definitely a different situation in Portland, in my earlier days of gardening I building a garden that didn't require watering during the summer. Such a loss.

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    1. I was also introduced to Agastache by HCG, and I can't imagine my garden without it.

      Who is going to be the "go to" nursery for Agastache now?

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    2. Me too, LeLo...I can't imagine just how different my garden would be had I not learned of Agastaches!

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    3. I wish I know, Alan...there isn't really anyone else out there who has dedicated time and effort into developing (and promoting) them as much as HCG.

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    4. I hope they come back. I found out almost immediately--there were some rumors out there--and even some known book publishers I knew in the gardening community (not to mention Dave's Garden website) were shocked when I first mentioned this & apparently informed them...I see their online order website now "appears" to be up & running...it looks legit but I am looking to verify this, of course, before I forward any card info, in the event it is a very unusual scam ! I ordered maybe 400 plus plants over the past decade plus from them...if they have or do return, I hope we will support them en masse ! Jeff

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  3. Hi Scott, I'm not familiar with HCG, but your love and enthusiasm of agastache resonated with me and I've got my first two plants in the ground thanks to you..via HCG. You are so right, if we don't plant some water wise plants in PDX, we are a slave to watering all summer.

    I am saddened by the loss of a meaningful small biz. I hope we as bloggers will continue to discover and support new establishments. You have been a great champion of several PDX metro area nurseries that in turn has introduced me to them. Cheers, Jenni

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    1. Thanks, Jenni...and I'm so excited for your Agastaches...they are such beautiful and easy-going plants :-) I agree...I think we have to constantly support our valuable area nurseries...or we risk losing them :-(

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  4. I'm so blue about this. I had plants earmarked already for the spring. :(

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    1. Me too! I had wanted to get that silver-leaved Vernonia they had...Deep Sigh :-(

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  5. I'm crashed about HCG, so sad.............

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  6. Well good grief! I did not know High Country Gardens was closing up. I have gotten many plants from them over the years also.

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    1. I think it was a big surprise to most of us...there was no real indication it was coming :-(

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  7. This is such distressing news. I have ordered from High Country Gardens and they were great. My Kitntzley's Ghost lonicera was the latest thing I bought last fall, and I only found it at HCG. I had no idea the company would be gone by winter. Sad. Thanks for this post remembering them.

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    1. I know, it's so sad, Laurrie...I think the same thing...if only I'd known...I would have ordered this fall, instead of waiting for spring :-(

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  8. Very sad indeed. Between weather and market inevitabilities I sure does seem a rough business climate.

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    1. It's definitely a sad reality...so many seem to be closing lately.

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  9. I was bummed to hear this... had gotten many plants from them when I was first establishing my drought-tolerant garden, and was looking forward to trying their side-oats gramma lawn substitute at the new place next year. *sigh*

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    1. Agreed...they were such a great resource for water-wise plants...they will definitely be missed.

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  10. Well said Scott. I will miss them as well, they certainly filled a special need in the gardening world.

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    1. Absolutely...they really opening my (and probably many others') eyes to the possibilities of xeric plantings.

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  11. High Country will indeed be missed. Their catalogs were always beautiful and inspiring, David was such a great advocate for xeric gardens, and their plant-shipping service was excellent.

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    1. Absolutely, Pam...it was always a treat to get a new catalog...and their plants were always well-packed and healthy.

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  12. Sad to hear! I've ordered from them and loved their catalogs.

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    1. Totally...I will SO miss getting those catalogs!

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  13. Sad news! Loved their catalogs and learned a great deal from them! I worry about the independent nurseries that are still struggling!

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    1. Me too...it just reinforces the need to really shop at those nurseries...we vote with our dollars who stays in business.

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  14. Ha - I save some of my catalogs, too...a few of HCG's, and most every one of Plants of the Southwest's. It was nice to see them expanding more into xeric accents / succulents over the last several years. My 'Tuscan Blue' Rosemary will be a living legacy, since I bought it at HCG's Santa Fe Greenhouses, watching all the locals jealous that they couldn't just plant it outside, like I could down here!

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    1. Hahaha...I know that feeling! I wish now that I'd saved more of the catalogs...oh well.

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  15. One of the best HPSO programs ever featured Lauren Springer, who did work with HCG in recent years. I rarely do mail order, but now I am glad to have their introduction, 'Swallowtail' columbine, to remember them by.

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  16. Black Chokeberry is a wonderful plant.plant is beautiful and produces edible hedelmiä.Kasvi is here and is growing well. Aronia melanocarpa grow is about 5 feet long when fully ripe. It grows well in full sun or partial sun. This shrub is also very adaptable to different soils. It also produces a beautiful dark purple berries and add color to yellow and red leaves in the autumn months.


    Black Chokeberry

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  17. High Country Gardens agastaches and ornamental grasses will live on here on the Connecticut shore.

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    1. Annie's Annuals might be a good alternate source for those Agastache lovers, she grows quite a few. I hadn't ever ordered from HCG because it seemed more oriented to climates other than my zone 9b/10a conditions.
      David in Berkeley

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  18. I too was crushed when I went to the HCG website and saw they were closing. I went back today (they still have the plant file pages running, which I like to use for reference) and there is a new message on the website - confusing because it says "January 2012", but the message seems to indicate that they might end up still doing mail order. "We are excited to announce that ... High Country Gardens will continue to still be available via mail order. We are still finalizing the details... stay tuned for the latest update on when our full selection of water-wise plants will be available to order for Spring 2013 delivery". I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that maybe I haven't been completely cut off from my supply.

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  19. http://www.highcountrygardens.com/

    Good news! High Country Gardens is back in business. We're celebrating our 20th Year with 20 New Plants. For more information, you can read David Salman's blog post about the transition: http://www.waterwisegardening.com/archives/1933

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