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 31st annual seed catalog! I think it is safe to say that most of us found 2020 to be a tough and challenging year. We had a triple whammy here in U.S. with the COVID-19 pandemic spreading across the globe, record drought in the western states and then record wildfires, most of which could not be extinguished without some help from Mother Nature in the form of rain and early snowstorms. California suffered most of all with a record 3 million acres burned nearly across the entire state. Every western state had some degree of fires burning and Colorado was no exception. On Aug. 10, I had the bad fortune of being stopped by the Grizzly Gulch fire in Glenwood Canyon, having arrived just before the fire broke out. Traffic was backed up for miles on the interstate and was being rerouted elsewhere but I decided just to go back home. With conditions that hot and dry, I figured I should not be out in the wilderness. To make matters worse, the usual monsoon rains made a very sparse appearance, leaving the forests and mountains even more parched. The largest fire in the state’s history burned west of Fort Collins for three months and despite two snowstorms, it is technically still not completely out as of Nov. 9. Then there was the East Troublesome Fire burning through the towns of Granby and Grand Lake on Oct. 22, almost reaching Estes Park a couple of days later. Nearly the entire town was evacuated and only a snowstorm three days later stopped its advance. Hundreds of homes and other buildings were destroyed. I won’t even try to summarize all of the conflagrations in other states but needless to say, I decided it was safest to stay home most of July and August.
Besides, the fact that so many fires were able to ignite so easily indicated to me that little rain or snow fell during the winter of 2019-2020 so there would be little chance of finding plants that had bloomed and set any seed. During  the few trips that I did take, I indeed found that to be the case. There were exceptions here and there, allowing me to acquire about 60 new collections. Southern Utah and northern Arizona seemed to fare best, as I found Talinum brevifolium, several sclerocactus populations, Phlox grayi and Lewisia brachcalyx near Flagstaff, Dudleya collomiae and Agave parryi to have bloomed well and set decent amounts of seed. Early blooming species such as Oxytropis multiceps, Hymenoxys caespitosa v. acaulis (the dense form in Wyoming) and Physaria condensata also performed well. I found a canyon in northern Arizona containing sporadic populations of Amsonia palmeri. Though each individual flower is rather small, they occur in large clusters making this one of my best new finds of 2020.
I wasn’t even able to venture out until about mid-May due to the restrictions in place due to the COVID virus, just as the country was getting used to wearing masks, social distancing and other protocols. Most businesses were still trying to figure out how to operate under guidelines which changed almost daily. All this made it confusing and uncertain as to how to travel. I took every precaution while staying in motels and getting food, most of the time I just got take-out and ate in the room. As May and June wore on and COVID cases started declining and restrictions became more relaxed, I was able to travel with a bit less concern for my safety and this is when I was able to make most of the collections.  In Wyoming, Townsendia spathulata and the alpine form of Phlox hoodii at about 9500 feet did well enough to collect adequate amounts of seed.
The white form of Pediocactus simpsonii in the Uintah Mountains at 8000 feet set a good amount of seed but lower down, just across the border in northwest Colorado near the town of Dinosaur, I spent 3 hours combing the bare sandstone shelfrock for pods of Astragalus chamaeleuce. In the end I did find quite a few pods but they were very sparse.
During a hike up one of the canyons near Estes Park in early July, I came across a few blossoms of Lilium philadelphicum. A return trip in Sept. in between fires burning revealed no seed set. This small lily is rather rare in Colorado but it would be nice to get some progeny — maybe next year!
Once the fires started as a result of the rapidly escalating heat in July, especially in California and the Pacific Northwest, I didn't even bother to venture in that direction.
Many species bloomed well in the spring but apparently did not have enough moisture to set seed. For instance, hiking in the Jemez mountains of northern New Mexico, I came across fields of Iris missouriensis in full bloom but upon return 2 months later, there was hardly a pod with seed. It looked like most of the flowers simply fell off.
In central Wyoming where I was checking on the Astragalus barrii populations, the full force of the drought became apparent. I could not even find any plants that had leafed out and the high plains had that horrible dry and brown look.
In mid-May, my wife and I took a little trip into Utah to do some hiking. Their restrictions were a bit more relaxed due to fewer COVID cases and Bryce Canyon had just opened back up a couple of weeks earlier. We hiked up to Calf Creek Falls, a waterfall over 100 feet tall in the middle of canyonland territory and saw many trees and bushes in bloom along the trail, well fed by the riparian habitat. The next day saw us in Bryce where we took a couple of the local hikes to see another waterfall and the world-famous hoodoos.
A short trip to the Utah-Wyoming border area to collect seed of Penstemon acaulis was modestly successful, apparently the plants had received enough moisture for a decent showing. The Echinocereus triglochidiatus plants north of Vernal set abundant pods, the most I have ever seen so I was able to stock up on this most northern population of this handsome and ubiquitous species.
I had planned to collect some Jamesia americana seed from a large population in southern Wyoming but fire ripped through the area before they had a chance to fully mature.
Higher-elevation species in central Utah such as Eriogonum umbellatum v. porteri, Aquilegia scopulorum, Silene petersonii, Castilleja applegatei v. viscida and Monardella odoratissima must have received just enough winter moisture because this was probably the most enjoyable collecting of the entire summer. Anything below about 10,000 feet was shockingly dry. On Pike’s Peak, when I visited the alpine fields at 12,000 feet checking on the zygadenus, I was shocked at how dry and dessicated the tundra looked.
In early October, my wife and I took another trip to the western slope and Utah. We toured vineyards in the Palisade area while my wife tried numerous wine tastings at the myriad showrooms. This area has several festivals each year like the Peach Festival but they were all cancelled due to the virus so tourist traffic was very light. The next day we hiked two slot canyons, Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyons, about an 8-mile round trip. Slot canyons are a special and mysterious world in the canyonlands so it’s always a thrill when one has time to visit. Afterwards we toured the Goblin Valley with its profuse and astounding hoodoos.
By late October, COVID-19 cases across the nation and wildfires in Colorado and California started exploding once again so I decided not to take any more trips.
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 I have decided to take it one year at a time. 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 three 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 and my travels.

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:   November 10, 2020