February in the Pacific Northwest can be chilly, cold, and damp. Wearing a spring-colored orange raincoat, the color of a Echinacea ‘Tiki Torch’, doesn’t fool the weather gods. They didn’t care how cute, colorful, and spring-like I looked, they whipped me into a frost angel.
I was in Seattle to speak at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, with an extended stay to visit with my friend, Nancy Heckler. Sharing with me some of her favorite haunts, Nancy took me around. Included in our travels was Far Reaches Farm, in Port Townsend, WA.
Visiting nurseries and gardens in the winter months tells a lot about the caregivers, and the pride they take in their place. If the gardens can wow you in winter when no one is really looking, then you know they will be even better when open for the season. The gardens at Far Reaches Farm were top notch. I couldn’t get over how neat and tidy the nursery was.
It was obviously well taken care of, it was crisp and clean, and everything had it’s own place. It was also obvious a lot of care was given in all aspects of the business, from propagation to shipping. All facets were organized and thorough.
Far Reaches Farm is owned and operated by Kelly Dodson and Sue Milliken.
As Kelly gave me the nickel tour, I learned about Far Reaches Farm and I learned that Kelly was a lover of the wildlife, just like me. Rarely did we stay on topic as Kelly shared a wildlife story–visiting birds or insects, nesting habits, and the variety of wildlife that visited the farm.
Far Reaches Farm is a nursery specializing in rare and unusual plants. As Far Reaches Farm tells it,
“We propagate and grow most of our own plants ourselves, which allows us to grow many more impractical species than we should.”
Ha! That is where the fun begins. I need to study the catalogue to better acquaint myself with their fine selection.
With around 5,000 taxa, these folks are plant obsessed. The 130′ sunny display border looked good, even in its winter’s dormancy. I knew of about 75% of the plants…leaving about 25% new to me, and wondering why. I get around, but Kelly and Sue get around more, with plant hunting exhibitions and exchanges with other nurseries and botanic gardens. They are in touch and hip to what is happening in the horticulture world.
The shade garden under lath is lovely. Bermed garden beds, with paths following the shape, are filled with shade-loving treasures. Again, I was unfamiliar with about a quarter of what I saw there.
I went home with a Bergenia ‘Eric Smith’, which I’d seen earlier that day at Heronswood and wanted it then. So you can imagine how happy I was to find it at Far Reaches Farm. I’m not sure Bergenia is something I can grow. I have not seen it growing in Raleigh. It may be the case that it exists, but I hadn’t discovered it before.
Another score was a black stem Hydrangea macrophella ‘Nigra’. This is another plant I’d not seen growing on the East Coast, but I am willing to give it a try. There were a few other treasures that will be shipped to me for spring planting.
I would have acquired more, but I just petered out. It was so cold. The good news, they are also a mail-order nursery. Their website is but a click away, and I can go on it when sitting by the glow of a warm home fire.
If you haven’t checked out what they are up to, it’s worth a click through.