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 28th annual seed catalog! 2017 was another busy season filling orders. Thank you again for your continued support! Because of abundant rains in the desert southwest during the winter months of 2017, my year started much earlier than usual. I was in Tucson for their annual Gem and Mineral show and noticed that much of the flora around town and in the valley areas were already starting to bloom. Much seed was left from the previous year during the drive to and from Tucson, so I was able to collect seed of many desirable species such as Dasylirion wheeleri at a high elevation in New Mexico, Erythrina flabelliformis, Sophora secundiflora and Sophora arizonica, to name a few.

In mid-March, I started in the Guadalupe Mountains southwest of Artesia, New Mexico and worked my way west. Yucca torreyi was in full bloom, along with Arbutus texana, Ungnadia speciosa and Sophora secundiflora. In the valleys between Las Cruces and Lordsburg, millions of poppies (Eschscholzia mexicana) and other annuals were in riotous bloom. By the time I reached southern Arizona, the sheer variety of annuals and early-blooming perennials was astounding. There were verbenas, Penstemon parryi plants by the thousands, mentzelias, sphaeralceas and so many other tiny plants covering the desert floor. The annual I most wanted to find, though, was Mohavea confertiflora, and I found a few populations in washes here and there in southwest Arizona and southern California. Known as the “Ghost Flower,” these ethereal plants have pearlescent, creamy, spotted blossoms, tightly packed in the apices, hence “confertiflora.” In southern California, in the Anza-Borrego Desert, millions of Hesperocallis undulata plants were just starting to bloom, along with abronias, oenotheras, camissonias, and another favorite, Eremalche rotundifolia, with its mallow-like pink flowers and large reddish-orange spots. Mentzelia involucrata and Langloisia setosissima were also in full bloom, covering rocky crags. Millions of Encelia farinosa bushes were in bloom, covering entire hillsides with their fragrant yellow blossoms. It was such a contrast to the previous year when the entire desert was as dry as could be, apparently lifeless.

I returned in mid-April to collect seed of some of the more desirable annuals and was greeted by another round of blossoming plants — all of the perennials were beginning their show. Most of the cacti species were in full bloom by now, ferocactus, mammillarias, echinocereus and many others. Hyptis emoryi bushes, Dudleya saxosa, ocotillos, nolinas, agaves and countless other flora were adding their color to the raucous displays. In the Santa Rosa Mountains above Palm Springs, the Astragalus coccineus populations were the most spectacular I have ever seen, the brilliant scarlet blossoms seemingly on every rocky crevice and hillside. The bluish-lavender Allium fimbriatum heads poked out by the thousands. The indigo-blue sprays of Phacelia campanularia could be found under the manzanita shrubs here and there. The hesperoyucca, Agave deserti and nolina spikes were so numerous, it was difficult to walk through the brush. In the southern Sierras, I was thrilled to discover a small population of Pholisma arenaria, one of the strangest desert plants in existence, popping out of pure sand. The uncommon Mentzelia jonesii was also found here. On the western side I came across a large population of Lewisia rediviva but it appeared a bit different from the usual forms I’m familiar with, commonly seen in the high mountain valleys of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Here in the Sierras, the leaves were longer, more numerous, slender and curled, especially near the tips and the abundant blossoms were dark to pale pink, so I am calling this population the “Mariposa form” for the area they are found in (which later burned in July).  Driving through the Frazier Mountain and Lockwood Valley areas, I could not find a single calochortus blossom that had covered the hillsides a year ago. Instead, I found a large population of Asclepias californica with its bicolor blossoms of maroon and cream-yellow. Further north, Allium cratericola heads were poking out from their serpentine habitat by the hundreds. I also discovered a miniature form of Fritillaria recurva. Somewhere high on Mt. St. Helena, Erythronium helenae and Fritillaria affinis plants were coming into bloom. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to revisit until late June and most of the erythronium seeds were gone.

On April 30, 2017, my daughter Emily and my wife Claudia and me went on a hike for which we had been training for several months — the Confluence Hike, southwest of Moab, Utah, where the mighty Colorado and Green Rivers meet. It’s in the middle of a remote area of the “Needles District” of Canyonlands Park. The hike is 11 miles round trip and goes up and down several times, into and out of several canyons and it took us 7 hours to finish. The scenery was spectacular and the confluence itself was majestic from our perch 1000 feet above on the canyon rim. We were exhausted but elated and celebrated with a mexican feast that evening. The next day, of course, we were so sore and tired we could barely walk but we still had to drive the 8 hours back to Denver. Definitely worth the effort but I don’t think I would want to do it again.

In early to mid May, I once again traveled back to the deserts and California to collect seed of the plants seen blooming back in April. I was hoping to collect Ranunculus andersonii seed in Utah but they didn’t even bloom. In fact, most of Utah seemed to be in a drought condition, as evidenced by the devastating Brian Head fire a couple of months later. I don’t know how much damage it caused but I remember when I was staying in Beaver on June 26, I could see the entire mountain ablaze at night some 30 miles to the south. It continued to burn for several weeks until the monsoon rains came and flooded the area. I retraced most of my steps made during my earlier desert excursions and managed to collect seed of most of the species seen. It was getting pretty hot already, temperatures in the 90s to 100s.

In early June, Emily and I drove to Fort Worth, Texas for the finals of the thirteenth Van Cliburn Piano Competition, an event we have attended every four years since 2005. It is considered the Olympics of piano playing.  Both of us are piano players and musicians ourselves so to see the world’s best pianists perform their magic was a special treat for us. After listening to nearly 20 hours of music spread over several nights, the judges announced the winners on Saturday evening during the awards ceremony: the South Korean took the gold (no surprise after hearing his eloquent and haunting performance of Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto) and two Americans took the Silver and Bronze medals. Another exhausting week but we’ll remember this event for the rest of our lives.

By this time, the heat was starting to build here up north, the temperatures reaching well past 90. California was also suffering under even more punishing, relentless heat, temperatures regularly exceeding 100 degrees for weeks on end. I took a few more short trips here and there. I managed to gather a few more Penstemon utahensis seeds, Eriogonum shockleyi, Asclepias cryptoceras, Echinocereus triglochidiatus f. inermis, and most exciting, Phlox tumulosa. The winter rains came across most of Nevada, then stopped at the western Utah border, so I was able to collect not just the phlox but also Cryptantha abata, Scutellaria nana v. sapphirina and Eriogonum villiflorum. But just a few miles to the east, in western Utah, Sphaeralcea caespitosa and its associated flora were all dried up. Early July found me once again in California under sweltering heat this time but I managed to collect several erythronium species, E. klamathense, E. howellii, E. citrinum v. roderickii plus Allium siskiyouense and some Silene hookeri at the highest elevation I have ever seen. In Oregon, I found some good quantities of Erythronium oregonum, E. revolutum and E. elegans. I returned home, exhausted from all the driving and collecting and the heat, and rested for the next two weeks. In early August I drove to Logan, Utah and discovered along the way that a population of Yucca harrimaniae was just breaking into seed. The Asclepias asperula colonies near Logan set much more seed than the year before so I was thrilled to get some decent quantities for once.  On August 10, I drove up to southern Wyoming hoping to collect some more Phlox pulvinata (blue form) but it seemed as though not a single plant set any seed. The Trollius albiflorus did bloom so I got some fresh seed of that but still, it was a disappointing trip. A few days later I went up into the Colorado mountains hoping for some Eritrichium aretioides seed but very little was left; it looked like all of the monsoon rains had washed most of it away. I didn’t venture out again until August 20, when I went up to Wyoming to see my first full solar eclipse. I had seen many partial eclipses over the decades but when a full eclipse occurs just a couple of hundred miles to the north, I’m going to go. So did a few million other people. I stayed on the Beaver Rim that night, camping in the back of the truck since all of the motels were sold out months in advance. So that evening and the next morning, naturally I was out collecting some good quantities of Penstemon paysoniorum, P. laricifolius and Sphaeromeria capitata. The eclipse occurred at about 11:40 am and lasted for barely 2 minutes but it was an experience I will never forget. Afterwards, it took over 4 hours to drive about 100 miles up to Worland from Riverton, due to the thousands of cars filtering out of the area. I don’t think Wyoming has ever seen that much traffic since it became a state. I spent the next two days on the Big Horns and along the Beartooth Highway, collecting such gems as Douglasia montana, Arabis lemmonii, Trifolium nanum, Draba ventosa, Castilleja rhexifolia, Erigeron rydbergii and Saxifraga oppositifolia. Most disappointing was the fact the eritrichiums here also seemed to have set little or no seed.

In early September, I drove down to northwest Oklahoma hoping to find some Yucca neomexicana seed but not a single plant bloomed, nor did any of the Yucca glauca plants a few miles away. Just 20 miles to the east and all along Hwy 287 into Texas, thousands of Yucca glauca plants had bloomed abundantly. Such is the frustration of a seed collector. In mid-September, a trip to the Uintah Mountains revealed not a single plant of Penstemon uintahensis had bloomed but Gentiana calycosa was in full seed so at least it wasn’t a total waste. In early October, I took another trip down to the Guadalupe Mountains of southern New Mexico and up into a few mountains in southern Arizona to see if any late seeds could be found. Not a single Dasylirion leiophyllum in the Guadalupes bloomed, save for one small colony of a couple dozen plants in a remote area southwest of Artesia. No Yucca torreyi pods were left and the Arbutus texana berries were still too green to pick (6 months later! —  these take a long time to mature). Local landscape plantings in Las Cruces yielded a good quantity of Leucophyllum frutescens and near Silver City, Yucca elata was blowing off millions of seeds. The most exciting find was at 7200ft on Mt. Graham in Arizona where the Stachys coccinea population I had discovered back in 1996 had set seed, enough to offer again this most hardy form. A customer from Minnesota years ago told me his plants had lived through their winters. I was going to finish this trip in California by collecting some dudleya seeds but the wildfires were exploding at the time and decided to stay away. Our hearts go out to those who suffered losses in Santa Rosa and surrounding communities.

As mentioned last season, I had 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. I am now 64 and will probably make a decision whether to retire from the seed business sometime next spring. My health is definitely declining and have trouble with extended periods of driving and collecting so necessary to maintaining a decent seed selection. Plus my father is now 89 and his health is declining even more rapidly, so I need to keep a watchful eye on him.

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. Jeff and Marie Thompson offer a wide selection of cactus, mesemb and other succulent plants through their website, www.stoneycreekcacti.net.

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.

The collections listed on the "New Items" pages show only the new collections acquired during the 2017 season.  Returning customers may find these helpful.

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 will be 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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Last Major Update:   October 24, 2017