Photo above shows Penstemon uintahensis in all its alpine glory at 11,500 feet on Leidy Peak in the Uintah Mountains, taken in August, 2008.

 

Dear Growing Friends:

Welcome to our 30th annual seed catalog! The 2018-2019 season was another busy one filling orders, but then my father took a fall in his house in late January, fracturing his tailbones in several places. After the initial rush to the emergency room in Colorado Springs, I spent nearly every day with him for the next several weeks while he was trying to recuperate. After a week's stay in the hospital, he was moved to a rehabilitation center for 3 weeks, during which time we made the decision that he should move to a retirement home. So for the next few months, I was busy finding the appropriate retirement home, moving him in, getting rid of an incredible amount of furniture and other household items, cleaning the entire house, having the roof replaced and selling the house. I had lots of help from my wife and daughter and other people, but I was unable to steal away for even a few days to take a botanical trip here and there. So I missed the entire spring and early summer blooming season. That's OK by me, family always comes first. It was late May before the house was off our hands. Of course, during this time there were numerous other estate affairs and other legal issues to deal with. By late June, my father's health had stabilized enough that me, my wife and daughter could go on a long-planned trip to London and Ireland. My wife Claudia's mother was originally from Ireland and she has always wanted to visit. So we spent 10 busy days touring many of Ireland's scenic highlights, including Dublin, the Ring of Kerry, Blarney Castle, the Titanic Experience, the Cliffs of Mohr and many others. In London, touring Kew Gardens was a real treat for me, seeing lots of plants in full bloom which I had never seen before. I especially enjoyed the cactus and succulent greenhouses and the outdoor xeric plantings. I felt like a little bit at home there. We also drove up into County Mayo, Ireland where my mother-in-law was from originally. This capped the trip for Claudia. Speaking of driving, that was an experience unto itself. Both Ireland and Britain drive on the left hand side of the road and some of the back roads were very narrow. The first couple of days were harrowing as I was trying to get used to driving "oppositely", especially when your vehicle is a fat SUV trying to pass tour buses. Thankfully my daughter did most of the navigating for me.

Right before our trip to Ireland, my daughter and I took a short trip to the canyonlands of western Colorado and eastern Utah. Our first hike was down into Mee Canyon and we had no idea what we were getting into. It sounded interesting in the guide books. It's a 1500-foot drop into a steep canyon with ladders, ledges and keyholes to traverse. The scenery was spectacular, to be sure, and at the bottom is one of the largest alcoves on the Colorado Plateau. Carved out over millions of years by the stream, it is over 300 feet deep and about a quarter mile long. The hard part was returning because it was all uphill and we were very tired and sore by the time we regained the truck. The next day we hiked around Arches National Park the best we could to enjoy some more outstanding scenery.

I did take a short botanical trip in mid-June to try and find the "blowout" Penstemon haydenii in the sandhills of northern Nebraska. This is federally listed as endangered so I had no plans to collect any seed, I just wanted to get some pictures of plants in bloom. Leaving my motel in Valentine, it took me about 3 hours of hiking, searching various blowouts before I finally found 4 plants in bloom. That was fun! Driving across Nebraska, I saw lots of Penstemon grandiflorus everywhere. I didn't know it was so common here.

After returning from Ireland, my father's health became an issue once again as he was retaining too much water. So a couple of more hospital trips and a new prescription did the job of returning him to his original weight. So by mid-July I was able to take my first collecting trip to western Colorado and Utah. This area had obviously gotten quite a bit of winter and spring moisture as I noticed from our Mee Canyon trip so I was able to collect Castilleja chromosa in abundance, Mirabilis multiflora, Hedysarum borealis and Penstemon duchesnensis. Oddly enough, the Asclepias cryptoceras did very poorly, setting practically no seed. In order to keep an eye on my father's health, I had to keep my collecting trips short (about 4-5 days) which pretty much limited me to adjacent states (Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico). In late July, I was able to go up to Wyoming for a few days and found some Lewisia rediviva seed, as well as Penstemon paysoniorum and Pulsatilla patens.

In early August, returning to Utah once again, I found some populations of Yucca harrimaniae that had bloomed in abundance, setting copious seed. I was hoping this might mean a lot of Shepherdia rotundifolia seed as well but not a single plant had set. I think I found two whole berries after searching dozens of bushes. In the remote canyons comprised of the Claron limestone formation, however, Aquilegia scopulorum had bloomed very well, although it was a challenge collecting much seed because the plants were so widely scattered. A couple of days later found me in the Beaver Dam Mountains of extreme southwestern Utah where I was thrilled to see that Penstemon petiolatus had bloomed very well and the local Yucca brevifolius v. jaegeriana populations had also set lots of seed. It was also very hot, surpassing 108° F. A couple of weeks later, I checked on the blue-flowering Phlox pulvinata cushions in southern Wyoming to see if they had set any seed and there was some available at last. I had been trying for the past three years but the local flora didn't feel like producing anything. Back in northern Wyoming, Aquilegia jonesii and Erithrichium aretioides provided a small bounty.

Most of August and early September found both me and my wife renovating two of our basement rooms. Claudia wanted to turn Emily's old bedroom into her "woman cave" and I needed to reorganize my seed room. After several years of hard use, my seed inventory was overflowing with junk seed, ones that have died off or in some way become useless. So I tossed about half of my inventory to make room for new collections and reorganized all of the storage cabinets for better "flow." There was even room for an extra bookcase to house our ever-growing collection of books. I must have hundreds of floras and other books about botany, plants, gardens, etc.

Toward mid-September I drove up to the Uintah Mountains in northeastern Utah to see if I could get some Penstemon uintahensis seed. This is another great plant which has not even bloomed for the past 3 years. Although not abundant, I did find a small population that was productive. I also was able to collect some of the Uintah form of Mertensia viridis. Not an official designation, but the Mertensia plants here near the tops of the Uintah Mountains are very green, oblong and almost succulent in texture.

In early October I found time to travel to that botanically interesting area covering southeastern Colorado, western Oklahoma and northeastern New Mexico. The Yuccas there had bloomed very well and set abundant seed, including the small population of Yucca neomexicana. Here you also find the northernmost population of Prosopsis glandulosa, the mesquite tree. I have seed but it is impossible to thresh. A little further south, the northernmost population of Chilopsis linearis was both in seed and in flower, given all of the recent rains that had fallen. There were also hordes of tarantula spiders everythwere on the roads. In addition, I encountered bats flying around, two skunks on the road, one that I almost hit, and a badger hissing at me. Further south, in the Guadalupe Mountains, I was overjoyed to find some of the Yucca torreyi plants still had pods which I could barely reach. The last time I had any seed of this outstanding Yucca species was back in 1995.

In mid-October, right after the Big Freeze, my daughter Emily and I decided to return to Utah to hike in some other areas not seen before. This was her fall break from her music teaching duties at a high school in Aurora. Our first visit was to some slot canyons which neither of us had seen before. There are 4 slot canyons close to one another, accessed by a very bumpy, sandy road 30 miles southeast of Escalante, Utah. The first slot, Coyote Hollow, was a breeze, what one would expect, easily walked through, the canyon sides 20 to 50 feet high or so. Then we started up Peek-a-Boo gulch and finished in Spooky gulch. These two slots are much more challenging, requiring more athletic climbing ability than hiking. They are very narrow and twisting, requiring you to take off your pack and carry it. It is necessary to turn sideways in many passages and you risk ripping your clothes and your pack. We came through relatively unscathed but a number of people got stuck. Also, there is a 20-foot drop in one section which might be difficult for some people to negotiate. The next day we did a loop hike in Bryce Canyon which has all sorts of strange and unusual rock formations (called hoodoos) in many bright colors ranging from orange to cream and all shades in between. The next day we drove across the San Rafael Swell, home to more amazing rock formations. Another good father-daughter bonding trip!

For the final trip of the season, I wanted to do something really different so I decided to drive to the Ozarks to see the changing leaves, reportedly at their best in late October into early November. Unfortunately, the early freeze we had in mid-October killed all of the leaves throughout northern Arkansas, Oklahoma, north Texas, Colorado and probably everywhere else north of this line. All of our valley trees were changing color beautifully, then that cold snap in mid-October killed everything. Most of the leaves stayed on the trees but they were colored shades of muddy green and brown. At least the show in the mountains was pretty good. I did tour Crystal Bridges Art Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, which was worth the drive, so it wasn't a total loss. The rest of the trip I wanted to see how many Yucca species in Texas I could collect seed from. I started with finding small populations of Yucca freemanii in extreme southwestern Arkansas which some consider to be a variety of Y. arkansana. Unfortunately, I could not find a single blooming stalk and no seed. I started driving towards Dallas and around the Tyler area, I discovered rather large populations of what later proved to be Yucca louisianensis. I remember seeing these in bloom when I was driving from Dallas to Shreveport, Louisiana many years ago in late May. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures then. It would be interesting to see how far north this species can survive. The next day found me cruising through the back roads of Palo Pinto county, Texas to see if I could find some Yucca pallida seed and I was not disappointed. I was amazed to find how much seed was left after all of the rains and wind that must have gone through in the last two or three months. Further south in the same day, I came across a large population of Yucca constricta, looking much like a non-arborescent version of Y. elata. The days are very short in November so by the time I got to Fredericksburg, it was pitch black. The next day, it was raining in the morning so I headed for Kerrville. By the time I arrived the rain had let up and I started finding small populations of Yucca rupicola here and there. Unfortunately, after driving miles and miles through its native habitat, I could not find a single stalk with seed. Further, though, near Menard, I discovered a nice population of Yucaa reverchonii in full seed so the day was saved. Later, heading towards Ozona, I came across one lone plant of Yucca treculeana which actually had a number of pods left on it. The plants were very scarce here and later, consulting some population maps, decided that I found some plants at the very northernmost part of its range. I wound up in Alpine, Texas that night when at about 10 pm a cold front came through, initially triggering a severe electrical storm, followed by torrential rains. By morning, the temperature had dropped from the 70s to the 40s and it was still raining and very foggy. I could not drive anywhere, so I spent the day touring Alpine, visiting the Museum of the Big Bend and the numerous art galleries. I find the Chihuahuan Desert flora fascinating and every block in town reveals some new plant. I even got permission to collect some Parkinsonia aculeata which had neat chained pods at the time of my visit and bright yellow flowers in the spring. The next day, the fog had lifted somewhat and I drove up into the Davis Mountains and found a couple of Agave havardiana stalks which provided a good amount of seed. Driving north on my way home, I checked the Leucophyllum minus populations near Pecos and all of the seed was gone already. Leaving Roswell, NM the next day found me in central New Mexico around mid-day and I discovered a transition zone between Yucca elata and Y. glauca where hundreds of plants exhibited many characteristics between the two species in various combinations. I also found by pure luck a good amount of Penstemon jamesii seed right where I stopped to get the Yucca seed. I arrived home with six new Yucca species and a few other goodies, not bad for such a whirlwind tour of Texas.

I know many of you are wondering whether I have decided to retire from the seed business or not and at this point in time, I cannot definitely say when I should retire, but it is likely this will be my final season, at least for overseas shipments. I still love to travel and want to take botanical trips every once in a while but this ageing body is slowing me down. It is important to stay active, however, and taking a hike every now and then fits the bill. There are other factors which may cause me to simply give up the business quickly so if you see any seed varieties you want, I would order it while you see it. Also please forgive me if I take a bit longer than usual filling your order, I'm not able to work as long every day like I used to. I do plan to retain the domain name of alplains.com and I am thinking of turning it into a resource for U.S. plants. I have many more pictures I can post and I could expound on the habitat and culture of all of the plants I have offered in the past plus many more never listed.

As mentioned a couple of seasons ago, I decided to discontinue publication of the printed catalog. I did issue a letter to all customers the year before and I think by now all of my customers have gotten the message. I’m grateful many customers have continued to follow me on the website alone and to continue supporting me in my endeavors.

And in the interest of self-promotion, I would like to mention, mostly for the benefit of new customers, the following:

In late 2011, I had the great honor to receive the Marcel Le Piniec award from the North American Rock Garden Society for "enriching and extending the range of plant material available to American rock gardeners." It has been a privilege to collect seed and introduce to the horticultural public many new species of plants. My customers are the cognoscenti of the horticultural world and are a wonderful group of people who have shown me nothing but kindness and encouragement in my endeavors. Thank you sincerely for all of your patronage and support over the years!

We also continue to offer seed from the extensive cactus and Yucca collections of Jeff Thompson, an expert in this area for over 30 years. Now numbering nearly 200 different kinds, they can be identified by the "JRT" (field) and "TC" (cultured) numbers in the listings.

We also thank Donnie Barnett for a selection of Opuntia seeds, indicated by "DB".

-- Alan D. Bradshaw, Proprietor

 

NOTE:

 

The twelve main seed catalog pages list ALL collections that are available for sale. In the interest of saving myself considerable computer time, I am no longer maintaining the "New Items" pages and I apologize if this causes anyone some inconvenience.

Items listed on the "Archives" pages are NOT AVAILABLE but are listed there for your reference. When a collection sells out, it will be moved to the "Archives" pages.

The 2015 catalog was the last printed catalog issued by us. For the 2016 season, there was a mailing with a cover letter announcing the end of printed catalogs along with a synopsis of my travels and a list of new collections made in 2015. After this, there are no more general mailings. All collections will be maintained on the website only from now on.

For your reference, previous printed catalogs are available for $3.00 each. Issues available are: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.

 

Our Photo Gallery continues to grow. We will be uploading many more photos in the weeks and months to come. Stay tuned and watch our website grow!

 

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E-mail:   alandean7@msn.com

 

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Last Update:   December 1, 2019