10 Nov Plant Market Spotlight – Far Reaches Farm
Kelly Dodson and Sue Milliken are bonafide plant geeks. As owners of Far Reaches Farm, a specialty nursery located in Port Townsend, Washington, this offers the perfect excuse to indulge their life-long passion for plants and combine it with a nursery retail and wholesale operation. Don’t try this at home! It’s a lot of work all year-round, but Kelly and Sue are passionate about what they do.
Kelly has been in the plant business all his life. He first owned Reflective Gardens in Poulsbo, which was widely known for carrying a unique array of plants from China, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the more common but very useful Northwest natives. Sue is the former owner of Kate Brook Nursery in Vermont, which had an extraordinary collection of conifers, woody plants and alpines. They met while on a seed collecting expedition to China, and together opened Far Reaches Farm eight years ago.
Far Reaches Farm has an impressive 130-foot display border, at its peak in the summer months. They also have a shade border which is glorious in spring. It was revamped in 2010 to double its size, with plans to enlarge it even further. The garden gets its shade from lath wrapped in shade cloth which gives it an enclosed, intimate ‘garden room’ feeling. It is densely planted with treasures so it’s not for the faint at heart.
Also in the works are another sunny garden, and a bog garden. All of these gardens, of course, are just a shameless excuse to get new plants for trials and testing. But the gardening community benefits from Kelly and Sue’s dedication to bringing us the finest plants for our Northwest weather and growing conditions. If Kelly and Sue can’t grow it, we probably can’t grow it either. Think of all the heartbreak they are helping to prevent.
At the 2011 garden show, Kelly and Sue hope to be bringing a huge assortment of incredible plants. Some highlights include Meconopsis x sheldonii ‘Lingholm,’ the Himalayan Blue Poppy, and Chocolate Cosmos, Cosmos atrosanguineus. These both pretty much rule at the show and they promise to have a good supply.
They’ll also be stocking up on Podophyllum hexandrum; Arundo donax ‘Peppermint Stick’ and ‘Golden Chain’; Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’; a number of Crocosmia varieties, including ‘Carmin Brilliant’, ‘Emberglow’, ‘Culzean Pink’, ‘Lucifer’, and ‘Star of the East’, ‘’Coleton Fishacre’, ‘Queen Charlotte’; Ajuga incisa ‘Bikun’ (Frosted Jade); Kniphofia ichopensis and K. porphyrantha; Iris cristata ‘Tennessee White’; Paeonia mlokosewitschii and 200 others.
Plan to shop early on Wednesday if you want a chance at these new beauties they plan to bring: Arisaema triphyllum ‘Blackjack’, a black leafed Arisaema; Iris odaesanensis, a dwarf Korean species with lots of white flowers with a yellow signal; Crocosmia ‘His Majesty’, which has the biggest flowers of any cultivar, with a rich burnt orange back and an open orange-yellow face on tall stems; Crocosmia ‘Cascade’, managing to be ‘elegant yet assertive’; and finally Iris lactea, from a wild collection in Tibet by noted mycologist and guide Daniel Winkler. There will undoubtedly be more new must-have varieties since Kelly and Sue are always on the hunt for new plants and have just returned from another trip to China. For more information, check out their website at http://nwf.gs/bc2ajo.
Stop by the Far Reaches Farm at booth #2126 in the Plant Market in North Hall. And join Kelly and Sue as they chronicle their latest adventures to China, as they join Richie Steffen and Panayoti Kelaidis in an episode of ‘The Garden Show – Plant Explorers,’ on Friday, February 25 at 2:30 pm. – Janet