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 32nd annual seed catalog!  2021 was another challenging year for all of us with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to spread across the globe and the drought continuing across all of the western United States. The best conditions were right here along the Front Range and into the mountains east of the continental divide thanks to several snow and rain storms in March, April and May. I took a couple of trips to neighboring Utah in early and mid-May to assess conditions for the local flora but it was obvious very little winter moisture had fallen. Some plants were blooming like a remote field of Allium nevadensis near Moab but upon return to collect seed, the tiny heads had shriveled and dried up without setting seed. The same scenario played out amongst most of the flora in eastern Utah. At least I was able to explore a few more slot canyons and discover lots of rock art.

But the biggest event to happen to me personally was the death of my father in late May. That marked the end of field explorations and I was plunged into the world of estate handling, funerals, military notifications, account transfers and endless family matters. Being his only child, it was my sole responsibility but after several months, everything got done and I learned a lot about handling these matters. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t want to do it again. The Air Force gave my father a military funeral complete with a nine-gun salute and the ceremony of the unfolding and refolding of a flag of which I was the recipient. It is now displayed in a triangular box on the main beam of our house. Now both of my parents are gone, my mother having passed back in 2014. But on the positive side, my daughter got married just a few days after the funeral. She married a fine young man of Scottish heritage and they seem very happy together. My wife and I are proud to call her husband our son-in-law. So life goes on.

I was only able to take a couple of day trips down to the Florence and Canyon City area in June and July to collect a few species that I haven’t been able to for a while like Melampodium leucanthum, Menodora scabra and Zinnia grandiflora. In March, I took a short trip to the Guadalupe Mountains west of Carlsbad, New Mexico to check on conditions there but it was obvious no winter moisture at all had fallen. The Sophora and Ungnadia shrubs did not bloom at all. I was able to collect some Arbutus texana seeds left behind from the previous year, though it involved some acrobatic skill to climb up a few trees and figure out how to hang on while grasping a few clumps of shriveled berries. Later, up a mountain in central Arizona, I found quite a few pods left on a population of Escobaria vivipara which bloomed nicely when I visited about 6 weeks later. The only other interesting find was seeing hundreds of Dichelostemma capitatum flower heads on the south side of the mountain, looking very similar to a blue-flowered allium. I also paid a visit to the extensive Phlox grayi fields west of Flagstaff only to discover mediocre bloom. At least there were plenty of Juniperus deppeana seeds left from the previous year. During my initial trip to Utah in early May, I checked the Penstemon utahensis populations and was disappointed at how little bloom there was. The local flora bloomed well and allowed collection of more Hymenoxys acaulis, Calochortus gunnisonii (Plains form), Mertensia lanceolata and Thelesperma filifolium.
With all of the fires raging across the Pacific Northwest, California and Idaho, I did not even bother to venture to those areas. I could not leave the house for more than a week anyway, due to having to handle some family matter which seemed to crop up on a weekly basis. By the middle of September, most everything was settled so me and my wife decided to take a 5-day trip to Utah to do some more hiking and viewing more rock art. We hiked up and down Crack Canyon with its gnarled “swiss cheese” wall formations and the split-level “subway.”  Then on the other side of the San Rafael Swell, we hiked up to the Wild Horse Windows, two large caves with a huge hole in the roof and more rock art on the inner walls. On our rock art day, we saw the Rochester Panel, the Buckhorn Panel and numerous panels in Nine-Mile Canyon, including the fabulous “Great Hunt” scene.
In mid-November, I finally mustered up the energy to take one last trip into Arizona to see if the monsoon had delivered any seeds.  I visited several sites that I haven’t been to for several years. In the mountains of western Texas, the Silene plankii populations had bloomed but set very poor seed. I did find a large number of vines of Ipomoea cardiophylla with its sky-blue flowers. Also the local population of Acacia constricta set abundant seed. In New Mexico, I found very little to collect with the lone exception of a few large Sphaeralcea incana bushes. In Arizona, exploring up a canyon where I had seen Sedum griffithsii, Sedum stelliforme and Heuchera sanguinea v. pulchra in years past, I could not find a single plant that had bloomed. Apparently they depend on winter moisture. I did find, however, numerous plants of Salvia lemmonii with seed so that visit wasn’t a total waste. In the Mazatzal Mountains where I had seen Fritillaria atropurpurea and Fremontodendron californica bushes blooming back in April, I could find no significant amount of seed in November. At least there was some Agave toumeyana ssp. bella seed available at the higher elevations.
I noticed that everywhere I went, whether in Texas, New Mexico, Utah or Arizona, I didn’t find a single Yucca plant that had bloomed. They depend on winter moisture and no matter how much monsoon rain may fall, they will not bloom out of season.

Now for the big question: do I continue the seed business or not? While I am financially able to retire from the business, I still find the work fulfilling. I would not want to stop taking botanical trips even if I did stop offering seeds. I did consider closing down shop during the hectic summer months when I was in the midst of settling my father’s estate but after concluding most of the work by September, I decided I would at least continue the business for one more season. But with many countries overseas restricting seed importation, my customer base is declining rapidly and I may be left with only being able to service my customers here in the U.S. With more than half of the income gone, it may not make any financial sense to continue. So I will wait until next spring before making any final decisions.

As I mentioned in my last letter, 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.

Also, four 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!

 

To Contact Us:

 

Fax:       303-621-2864

E-mail:   alandean7@msn.com

 

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Last Update:   December 1, 2021