There are some nurseries that are worth a long drive. Far Reaches Farm in Port Townsend is one of these. Luckily for me, Port Townsend is only about a 1.5 hour drive, less if I don’t stop for coffee and bakery goodies at Four Corners (fat chance).
Far Reaches Farm is open most weekends during the growing season (August is an exception–check their website for Open Days), and by appointment other times, so earlier this summer, my friend Kathleen and I hit the road on a Saturday morning and beat the crowds to the nursery, which was bustling with plant lovers by noon. For those of you who can’t get to Far Reaches in person, they offer mail order on their website.
We started out by meandering in the bog, a recent landscape installation that allows for the clever display of many of their horticultural treasures in action. By next year, this area of the gardens that includes a green roofed pavilion will have filled out and will really look stunning. It was here that we ran across the Philadephus madriensis in bloom by following our noses. Two pots of this mock orange came home with us.
Then we hit the hoop houses with the tables of woodland plants and had fun testing our plant ID skills and botanical Latin all the while accumulating plants at the register. What we really should have done was tour the shade house first, which is a decadent display of unusual, to-die-for perennials, shrubs, ferns and lilies all growing in ideal conditions to showcase their true size, form and appropriate companions.
After wandering the shade house, snapping lots of pictures and saying “Wow! I’ve never seen a Polygonatum like that!”, we ended up going back to our previous selections from the shade tables and switching some things out after seeing them in situ. We also did a bit of negotiating: “I’ll get the “Green Giant’ Disporum if you’ll get the ‘Dark Heron’ and we’ll give each other divisions in a few years.”
As we strolled the sun tables, Jason, the main propagator, was a big help in checking the back for plants we had seen in the landscaped displays but not on the tables and identifying beauties from the borders without name placards. Talk about an encyclopedic mind! Most display plants are identified with signs, thankfully, because Far Reaches Farm is known for propagating the plants you covet from books, but never can get your hands on.
Our purchases were 4″ to gallon sized pots that ranged from $8 to $22 and considering the rarity of the choices and their health, we found the prices reasonable. For us plant nuts, nurseries like Far Reaches Farm are great entertainment and we were like kids in a candy store. After lunching in downtown Port Townsend we made the drive home with proof in the back of the car that our plant fix was satiated.
Far Reaches Farm
Sue Milliken & Kelly Dodson are the owners
1818 Hastings Avenue,
Port Townsend, WA98368
Check the website and/or call for Open Days and hours
© Colleen Miko, 2012