Saturday, February 11, 2012

High Country Gardens, Albuquerque

Since I’ve been receiving the High Country Gardens Catalogue for years I made it a point to visit their store in Albuquerque when we passed through last October.

Unlike Plants of the Southwest, which appeared to be almost at full operating capacity, it was obvious that this nursery was slowing down for the season. Perhaps an indication of the plants they carry, and the customer they target, although there were still a few things that caught my eye.
Roosting pockets! Who knew there was such a thing? (probably everyone but me)

Here we have another made-up Agave name. These A. vilmoriniana

Were going by the name Tentacles Agave…why! They already have the common name Octopus Agave, why Tentacles too!? (I realize this isn’t High Country Gardens branding but rather Proven Winners…who obviously isn’t going to be asking me to be a blog spokesperson anytime soon).

Pumpkins, it was October after all.
A branded Monrovia shop.
Love the veins on the back of these leaves.

More branding…have you seen the Hort Couture line in your local nursery?

Cordyline ‘Mocha Latte’…such wonderful colors!
More Nursery shots…
Hosta and Heuchera…in full desert sun!

Oh ya…now you’re talking!
According to the label these are Yucca thompsoniana

New Mexico Century Plant, Agave neomexicana…SEXY!
According to their signage this one is native to SE New Mexico and is one of the most cold hardy Agaves, 1.5ft tall and wide, zone 5.
Zone 5 people! That’s cold. Since we’re on the subject here’s a tiny one in my back garden, purchased last Spring at the Leach Botanical Garden Plant Sale. It’s done well this winter! (although it's surrounded by winter debris)
Apache Plume, Fallugia paradoxa
This monster was labeled ‘smooth agave’ and I think it’s an Agave desmettiana

Since this will be my last post with photos from Albuquerque I wanted to share a couple of pictures I took not at High Country Gardens but at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico. The front of their building…with its tall Yucca Elata (? I’m guessing) and gorgeous Cylindropuntia.

This is the courtyard in the back of the building, off the gift shop. I love LOVE the gate, and really wish I had a courtyard.
Finally, I did already share this sign on another post but it needed to be shared again. Route 66 as it goes through Albuquerque has dozens of fabulous old signs, many of them featuring desert plants, I could have spent a whole day driving the length of metro Route 66 and taking pictures of the signs. As it was this was the only one I captured.
Bye-bye Albuquerque!

29 comments:

  1. Love the Falugia paradoxa!

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  2. Uh oh... now you have me on the hunt for agave neomexicana!!! I think my friends at southlands can probably hook me up. It's really interesting all the branding that goes on. Proven winners and monrovia are the most common out this way. There is another one that I forget the name of that often sells pretty exotic plants to costco that claim tropical cordylines are cold hardy - it's a sad tale. On a much happier note, all those plants look stunning in the southwest sun!! looks like you guys had such an awesome trip.

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    1. I'm with you on the neomexicana -- I'm thinking about taking a road trip sometime soon to find a nursery with decent size Agaves and Yuccas that I can try.

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    2. Louis, no doubt, Southlands seems like a great resource. We did have a great trip (I still have so much to post about!!!). I'm one of the only 5 people in North America without a Costco membership (or cable TV) so I don't get to see the plants at Costso...

      Alan, do it!!! And there is always mail order...

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  3. So jealous...would LOVE to visit High Country Gardens! They are pretty much the reason I became addicted to Agastaches. Actually...this is probably better...I get to see what it looks like...but don't have to endure the heat of Albuquerque to do it!

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    1. Go in the fall like we did, it wasn't hot but rather perfect.

      If they had Agastaches at the nursery I would have walked right past them. There are so many plants that everyone else knows and loves that I can't tell from a weed. We all have our focus but sometimes my love of yuccas and other spiky plants has me feeling like an imitation gardener here in the PNW.

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  4. Thanks for the tour, informative for me in that the reality is so different from my expectations based on the catalog. Those hostas are ridiculous in NM.

    I did love seeing the Neomexicana and the other succulents.

    Route 66 is amazing in that it still has some of the old character. It's about time to go back since it's been three years or so.

    Nice series on Albuquerque!

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    1. They had several succulents which I would have LOVED to take home with me, at the top was the A. neomexicana.

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  5. Entirely agree about the stupidity of renaming just for promotion! I remember years ago hearing about Sutera diffusa when it was first introduced - guess many gardeners haven't heard of it but I bet you have seen or grown Bacopa 'Snowflake' or other Bacopas. The original grower apparently said it would sell under its correct name so made up a new one!

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    1. Thanks for the comment, I'm excited to find your blog.

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  6. Heucheras in full sun????

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    1. Kind of like Agaves in the shade?

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  7. Your parting shot is stunning. The colors really pop.

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  8. Hostas and heucheras? Would those really do well in an Albuquerque garden? I wouldn't think so, it might even border on irresponsible to sell them. Though I have sold my share of things that are ill-suited to our climate, but at least with a word of warning.

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    1. This reminds me of something my husband said when we were looking at plants and I knew something was a non hardy plant here only grown as an annual and he assumed otherwise. I don't recall where we were, probably a nursery here in Portland. He pointed out that there was zero signage or label that would tell a newbie gardener what I already knew. That's sad.

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    2. You may find several plants at High Country Gardens retail store that might surprise you that they would be able to survive the cold and the heat. David Salman, chief horticulturist at High Country Gardens collects plants from all over and grows them in New Mexico for several seasons to see if they will become hardier. If they acclimate after a few years, only then will he offer them for sale at the local retail stores. You will not see plants that will not thrive here being sold at the stores-he leaves that to the big box stores. The process and testing of plants in Santa Fe, Bernalillo and Mora is really quite fascinating, the greenhouses in Bernaliloo are state of the art.

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    3. Thank you for this information socialtech, I would love to see the greenhouses and hear about the testing.

      We have the same problem with the big box stores here...although I'm certain the comment I shared that my husband made was at an independent nursery. I think they were just assuming a level of knowledge that I too took for granted, and it took fresh eyes to point out.

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  9. Good review and points! *Desert* sun? I've heard Abq is "prairie grassland", so you must be mistaken or were a microclimate(!) :-) Hopefully, more customers in Abq will get where they are and stop asking for hostas, aspens, etc. Glad they sell yuccas boxed up instead of the more common practice of bare-root (helps them root better at their new landscape), as well as such stunning Agave neomexicana plants. (Y. rostrata and Y. thompsoniana are tough to tell apart as they can cross...the latter often more multi-headed with age)

    UNM - correct on Yucca elata, and that's Cylindropuntia spinosior (common name either Cane Cholla or Spiny Cholla). Cool courtyard. And a great motel sign...through the uprights, I see the foothill area I hike or bike in every few days.

    Thanks for showing a sampling of horticulture in the largest metro area in NM by far, with 1/2 the state's population. We have been highly overlooked, but no more, thanks to you and a few others. I hope to point you to some desert botanical treasures your next trip out, whether to opuntia-ize or de-hydrate!

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    1. While it kills me to think there are gardeners in Abq who don't embrace their location I guess I am guilty of exactly the same thing aren't I?

      Next time we are in the area I hope to meet up with you somewhere! The husband was dying for a quality dark beer...do you have those there?

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    2. I think you do embrace your climate, including the summer part of it. Many plants lusted after here embrace something we rarely are...colder, wetter.

      For sure! Plenty of beer here, including those Senor Danger would like.

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  10. Agave neomexicana does great here in Austin and can be seen in numbers at the Wildflower Center. That's where I fell in love with it, and now I finally have one in my garden thanks to a recent visit to the Natural Gardener nursery in SW Austin. I'll take you there someday when you visit Austin. ;-)

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    1. Yes please! Maybe the 10-yr anniversary of the Garden Bloggers Fling can be back in Austin? I'll come and stay a few extra days (Andrew too) and we can see all these places!

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  11. Those roosting pockets are rubbish (lol!), unless your fully secure it, it swings with the wind which the birds dislike hence they tend not to use it. Love all those Yuccas, I still gravitate towards them whenever I see them. Yucca thompsoniana is so prone to flowering which is its only disadvantage. Love that gate too!

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    1. I was thinking I needed to add a Y.thompsoniana to my collection but since you say that (and seeing the negative side effects of flowering on your blog) I'm thinking otherwise.

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  12. Despite the serious branding here I see a lot to love. High Country Gardens' catalog regularly seduces me, although one of only two plants I ordered from them last year (a Yucca rostrata) kicked the bucket after just three months.

    Agave neomexicana is wicked good! I must have one. And Cylindropuntia looks mighty fine too.

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    1. I suppose I should clarify that I don't have anything against branding, actually I appreciate the concept. Why wouldn't a brand want to have a recognizable identity? Monrovia has taken it to another level with their in-nursery shops but I don't see that as a bad thing. What I do dislike is when branding creates confusion for the customer/gardener.

      Yes that Agave neomexicana is wicked good and you do need to have one!

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  13. Their Santa Fe outpost is a real favorite of mine.

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