|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 27th annual seed catalog!
So by May 24, I was ready to go out in the field again and I wanted to see what was going on in southern California. The drought was already in its fifth year and I was hoping maybe there were sufficient winter rains, at least north of the Los Angeles area, to allow a decent floristic showing. I started the trip in western Colorado and discovered a pretty decent response, although it looked like rains had been patchy because one canyon might be blooming but the next completely dry. I discovered whole shelf rocks covered with blooming Ipomopsis congesta plants, their white globes highlighting the red sandstone. Pink-blooming Calochortus nuttallii, Grayia spinosa, bright yellow-flowering cryptanthas, and the bright red tubes of Echinocereus triglochidiatus blazed across the western slope. Driving through Utah which was mostly very dry, I was overjoyed to find that at least a section of the San Raphael Desert had received enough rain to prompt Caesalpinia repens into blooming. Unfortunately, all of the Asclepias cryptoceras sites I checked revealed few if any plants. Also I could find no evidence of Penstemon utahensis; most could barely produce a few leaves, let alone bloom. Reaching the Flagstaff area in Arizona, I drove into the known Lewisia brachycalyx sites and discovered they had bloomed well and were setting abundant seed. Mertensia macdougalii, Phlox woodhousei and P. grayi fared less well, barely leafing out. Further south into Arizona, bloom was more sparse, only a couple of Calochortus kennedyi plants blossomed where in good years hundreds dotted the landscape. Calliandra eriophylla, Agave mckelveyana, Dudleya collomiae made a decent showing but I discovered later that moisture was so limited that seed set was poor or non-existent. However, I was thrilled to discover a whole hillside where Penstemon pseudospectabilis had proliferated by the hundreds. Farther south near Quartzite, Jojoba plants managed to produce a few berries. By the time I reached the Anza-Borrega desert in southern California, everything was as dried, brown and parched as it could be. 300 miles further north and west, driving over Walker Pass and down into the Lake Isabella area, I was shocked to see just how bad the drought was. The hillsides looked like late summer, all brown and dried, even the grasses barely leafing out. In good years these hills are green and alive with dots of color from delphiniums, alliums, anemopsis, dudleyas, etc. About two weeks later after returning home, I learned on the news how devastating fires had swept through this region, destroying many homes. Our hearts go out to the beleaguered residents of southern California and hope that the drought will end soon. Continuing westward, I finally wound up in the Lockwood Valley area, surrounded by the San Emigdio and Pine Mountains. At last, some color! I found several species of calochortus, Dicentra chrysantha, alliums, triteleias, delphiniums, hesperoyucca and many other plants in bloom (late May.) The red form of Calochortus kennedyi was the highlight of my visit with dark orange to burning scarlet-orange blossoms. I also found populations of C. venustus and later, at higher elevations, C. invenustus. Delphinium parryi ssp. purpureum flowered by the hundreds in one remote valley. Allium howellii v. clokeyi lit up road embankments here and there with their white globes. Triteleia ixioides with its golden yellow stars lit up whole hillsides. Astragalus purshii v. tinctus was blossoming at higher elevations with its purple and pink pea-flowers. I found a plant I had never seen before, Zygadenus brevibracteatus, with its airy panicles of creamy flowers. I headed north and discovered two populations of Dudleyas I hadn’t seen before above the San Luis Obispo area: Dudleya abramsii ssp. murina with its myriad straw-colored blossoms and D. lanceolata (a standard form with bright orange-red flowers on long flowering stems.) The central valley of California was already surpassing 100° F. (38° C.) each day but I kept driving on, determined to reach southern Oregon by the end of the week. I looked around the Middletown—Mt. St. Helena area for any signs of Erythronium helenae and found a few seeds but not much. Exploring ridges where I had seen Fritillaria pluriflora and Allium cratericola in years past revealed very little activity. Further north, east of Redding, CA, I found Calochortus coeruleus had set some seed, unlike previous years. Around Yreka, the fields of Sisyrinchium douglasii had not bloomed at all and the Phlox hirsuta plants were struggling. Conditions improved somewhat in southern Oregon around Medford and the Illinois Valley. It was obvious that the erythroniums, dodecatheons and trilliums had bloomed about two weeks earlier than usual and by the time of my arrival (early June), there were already large cracks in the ground due to the early heat. Nonetheless, there was sufficient seed of Erythronium hendersonii, E. citrinum, Dodecatheon hendersonii, Asarum marmoratum, Trillium rivale and Calochortus tolmiei to warrant collections. I could find no evidence that any of the sagebrush violets even bloomed (e.g. V. hallii, nor V. beckwithii, later, in Idaho.) Heading across the barren plains of eastern plains of Oregon, I was delighted to discover that the blue form of Phlox hoodii had bloomed well and was in full seed, something I have been trying to get for years. So I shacked up in Burns and spent the better part of a day crawling around on the ground, picking phlox pods one by one. The next day, heading home across Idaho and Wyoming, I discovered that these areas were also shockingly dry, but curiously enough, just a little further south on the Wyoming-Utah border near McKinnon, Penstemon acaulis was in full bloom and ditto for P. yampaensis in northwestern Colorado.
Temperatures in western Colorado and eastern Utah hit up to 108° F (42° C.) during mid to late June while collecting Calochortus nuttallii, Ipomopsis congesta, Asclepias cryptoceras, Caesalpinia repens, Mahonia fremontii, etc. with very little cloud cover. I think I drank at least two gallons of water a day. For relief I ventured into some of the high elevations areas of Colorado’s northwest plateau of oil shale. I discovered whole areas at about 8500 feet (2600 m.) covered with Astragalus lutosus, Gaillardia aristata, Calylophus lavandulifolius, Hymenoxys acaulis and Penstemon caespitosus, and found a small population of a miniature form of Aquilegia barnebyi and the weird Mentzelia multicaulis.
As I mentioned last season, I have decided to discontinue the publication of the printed catalog. I did issue a letter to all customers last year but this year there will be no more mailings. Even though I am now 63, I don’t plan retire any time soon but I have to keep a more watchful eye on my father and his declining health.
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
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 2016 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!
To Contact Us:
This entire website is protected under copyright law and no part may be reproduced by any means without written permission of ALPLAINS.
Last Major Update: November 18, 2016
Minor update: December 18, 2016
Last minor update: January 8, 2017