In a time when water is low and worries are high, anguished gardeners watch helplessly as cherished plants succumb to drought: trees that shaded generations of family, heirloom flowers from ancestral lands, and perennial beds are withered and brown. We need help, we need heroes; we need Superman. Just in time, he’s back.
Though things looked dire, our Superman didn’t withdraw to the Fortress of Solitude; western gardeners are made of tougher stuff. What David Salman did was forge new partnerships, bringing High Country Gardens back from the ravages of its own kryptonite: forest fires, drought, and the economy. Teaming with American Meadows, the beloved source for tough, xeric plants is back in business, right here in Denver at Center Greenhouse.
“I’m excited about the future; in a sense, this is embarking on a new career. I can spend more time and effort on plants, speaking, and writing,” said Salman, who is eager to work with the Vermont-based company. “American Meadows is letting me continue my role as Chief Horticulturist; I’m responsible for the choice of plants in the catalog. They have the marketing expertise; I’m still able to educate people, make the selections, and keep our eco-friendly focus. Our catalog is a little smaller, but still maintains a good breadth of selection, still focused on unusual, unique, garden-worthy plants.”
American Meadows, with its emphasis on wildflowers, was a perfect fit for purchasing High Country Gardens. “We’re excited to have High Country Gardens as a brand, because it’s something I’ve looked up to for a while,” said Ethan Platt, President. “We have no desire to change it; it’s too good a brand to mess with. And David is really a unique resource – we’re eager to work with him.”
Maintaining a small research facility in Santa Fe, Salman and two of his long-time growers continue to develop new plants for the western landscape, sending cuttings and stock plants here to Center Greenhouse where the plants are grown. With its roots in Denver firmly established, the 64-year old company is a leader in propagating and growing plants for wholesale to garden centers. “We’ve increased staff by 10 employees just for this partnership,” says Brian Yantorno, Vice-President of Center.
Center Greenhouses’ expertise is what Salman was searching for to take over care of plants as close to his heart as family. “These plants need specific conditions to propagate them; you can’t do it in many places, not southern California, not the east coast. I wanted to choose the very best wholesale growers to grow the best,” said Salman, who moved his production over the past month and a half. “It was a huge move – imagine packing up a 2-acre house with thousands of plants, then getting them re-established in the new location.”
Celebrating their 20 years, High Country is offering 20 exciting plants, featuring their 2013 Plant of the Year, Phlox ‘Perfect Pink’ (Phlox nana). The west Texas/New Mexico native is a showcase of the glory xeric plants possess: long blooming flowers of deep pink with a white eye on a tough, long-lived plant.
Or snap up the new hybrid Skullcap ‘Dark Violet,’ (Scutellaria) with its masses of blooms in rich, seductive tones of reddish-blue. “Thank goodness I’m not a dog, because if I only saw in black and white, I’d be poorer for it. That’s what caught me about this plant – the color,” said Salman, who spent 5 years developing it for the catalog.
Hummingbird lovers will flip over Agastache ‘Desert Solstice’, a flower-packed powerhouse hybrid of blooms for our feathered friends. The orange and pink, spikes sport 50-percent more flowers than its hybrid cousin, ‘Desert Sunrise,’ and tolerates the richer soils of amended perennial beds.
Check out highcountrygardens.com for more xeric plants, or contact them at 800-925-9387 Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. mountain time.