December 3, 2019

We are getting set to start on the new plant additions to the website which should be done in a month or so. Good thing the office has lights for these short winter days! And if holiday gift ideas are challenging you, Far Reaches gift certificates can be used online or onsite and conveniently fit in any stocking size.
It’s Giving Tuesday today; please consider our associated nonprofit, Far Reaches Botanical Conservancy. Here is a brief profile on a plant in the FRBC collection that means a lot to us.
Lilium oxypetalum var. insigne is found in cultivation, usually in the hands of a scant few growers and collectors. This diminutive purple variant of a normally yellow flowered species hails from the Himalaya and has some similarities, at quick glance, to Lilium nanum and the allied genus Nomocharis.
This particular plant was grown from seed given to us by the iconic Jim Sutherland when we visited him in 2013 at his Ardfearn Nursery in northern Scotland. He was 80 at the time. Jim is a retired nursery inspector which afforded him ample opportunity to see what was being done wrong and what was being done right. He took the lessons learned and created an impressive array of enclosed raised beds on a slope watered by an ingenious system of capillary irrigation by flooding each bed just enough so that the pots could wick up water without wetting the leaves.
This was important because Jim was growing some of the most demanding of alpines which resent wet foliage and this clever system prevented a host of woes. He took us under his wing and showed us the inns and outs of his operation, such as how to pot efficiently. We mentioned labeling was always a problem and into the house we went for tea and biscuits before going into his office for a demonstration on how he engraved permanent labels.
It was a dream for us to be tutored by one of the legends in the rock gardening and nursery community in the UK. We shared the bond of plant hunting as he had been to Nepal, China, Siberia, Chile and the European mountains. It wasn’t long before he asked if we would like some seed of plants he thought very special and you can guess our answer to that. This exquisite Lilium oxypetalum var. insigne is one we flowered from seed Jim shared. When it flowers, time and distance lose their hindrance and we are again walking the garden and nursery with Jim, scarcely believing our good fortune to be spending so much time with him. It is well past time for another visit and we hope we can correct that in this coming year. In answer to the unspoken question, we have very young seedlings coming along, so it will be a while but you can relax a bit knowing they are in the pipeline!
Please support the Far Reaches Botanical Conservancy today so we can continue to collect rare specimens for introduction to North America. Thanks!

November 2019

Here at Far Reaches Farm, we are enjoying a pretty benign stretch of weather that is quite mild, generally gray and sometimes a bit rainy. It is leaving plenty of time to work outside in what is proving to be a drier-than-normal November. We say this with apologies to most everyone else in the country who has an early dose of winter. We will get our comeuppance before it is all over, rest assured.

It is time to think about holiday gift certificates judging from the number ordered today. Online gift certificates can be available quite quickly while the admittedly prettier mailed gift certificates will take a bit longer as they are mailed so planning in advance will let you appear to be very relaxed and casual during the holidays. Although we are closed for on-site retail until next spring, online orders can still be picked up here. And this is important because going abruptly cold turkey or rather, cold Tupistra is not ideal, the week of December 15 is our last shipping week until sometime in February weather permitting. And as a murmured aside to our West Coast gardeners, exceptions can be made during this time.

Figure 1.1 Plants make excellent stocking/boot stuffers. See?

Folks ask us what we do during our off season – travel, relax or just play. After we stifle a small scream, we remind them that our online mail order goes 24/7/365 and it is during our “off” season that we think back to Newman’s memorable rant on Seinfeld years ago: “ Because the mail never stops. It just keeps coming and coming and coming. There's never a letup, it's relentless. Every day it piles up more and more, and you gotta get it out, but the more you get out, the more keeps coming in!” We are not complaining one bit – thrilled, in fact, and thank you for keeping us all productively engaged preventing that whole scenario of idle hands and the Devil’s workshop. Although a weekend or two tinkering in that workshop might not be the worst thing.

Kelly and Sue returned from the Far Reaches Botanical Conservancy plant hunting expedition more or less intact with some exciting plant introductions so two primary goals were well met. This challenging adventure was possible thanks to the generosity of FRBC members – kudos to all. With Giving Tuesday coming up soon, the FRBC is a horticultural nonprofit worth considering. Sue is busy sowing expedition seed while doing her best Sinivali impression that Wiki says is the goddess associated with fecundity and easy birth which we hope translates to a high percentage of quick germination. There will probably need to be offerings.

Disporum 'Night Heron'