Winter is really a fun time at Xera Plants. We are busily propagating and sowing seed and scouring what seems like the whole world for new plants. And of course you know that there are thousands of new, new, new and improved plants waiting to adorn nursery shelves.
We don’t grow a whole lot of patented plants. Not at all because we dislike them and admittedly they are a huge cash outlay. But we are very careful now having been burned on a number of occasions from new plants that failed to perform or were (very) difficult to grow . Imagine a flat of 72 plugs at $4.oo a piece, nearly $300 including shipping and all but a few squeak through winter. To abuse a much bandied term: its unsustainable.
Most of all we are careful because if you run out of a patented plant and you can’t get any more for the season this tends to piss people off. The consumer doesn’t understand and it is infuriating as a supplier. We really like plants that we can quickly make more of if the demand is there. And it is not a bureaucratic mess.
We just want to grow good plants.
I really think there should be more species being grown. They are tough, and can be as spectacular as any shrunken deep orange blob with white flowers that you shell out big $$ only to have it become a root weevil festival. There is fantastic charm in wild species- I was first convinced of this when a friend who grew Rhododendrons years ago showed me the way. He introduced me to the fantastic range of this genus that was already beautiful without the artificial intervention of man. They were tougher plants and beautiful in form. The flowers are somewhat subtle, And unless you want your Rhododendron to have buds that fly open and reveal a clown, a magic bunny, in pornographic colors you may be disappointed but I think the charms of the species are wonderful.
Not that we grow them and considering some awful bugs and diseases they are afflicted with I glad we don’t. Doesn’t mean the gardener should shun them.
We have a bunch of new plants to thrill gardeners this spring. Greg and I tend to go for the sturdiest all around garden plants, and we don’t care for fussy, fussy new plants which can be a crap shoot. We want to sell good, solid plants accompanied by the most information we can muster. Fads come and go, but when all of the new plants have been shaken though the system perhaps we will find some amazing, classic, winner. This does happen. See: Geranium x ‘Rozanne’ as as an example.
As for the weather, the next three weeks are looking very mild and wet. As we have seen in CA over the last week, El Nino can bring prodigious moisture there so it looks like a classic scenario. Already systems off our coast are splitting and weakening. One calling card effect of El Nino. So rain in CA and bland and mild here has me seriously wondering if the 23ºF we dropped to on December 2, is our low for the year. In the past cold Novembers that has usually been the extent of the whole winter. It was that way in 1955 and 1985. So we shall see.
Lets hope for milder rather than wilder. We deserve it.
Have a wonderful Holiday Season from all of us at Xera Plants.