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Our Story

Our backyards used to be rolling prairies

They used to be aspen groves and horizonless deserts. Picture the soaring peaks, the expansive plains, and the rocky coastal bluffs - there is no place in the world quite as captivating as the American West. But millions of people now call this incredible landscape ‘home,’ and with each passing year, the wild beauty of the West disappears under the bulldozer’s blade.

Rapid development is at odds with a sustainable tomorrow 

As we populate the landscapes that enchanted us in the first place, we forever alter the balance of nature. Every new house, road, and parking lot strains the stability of healthy ecosystems and diminishes our natural resources, as does the increasingly challenging effects of climate disruption. Wells are dug deeper to compensate for drying rivers. Migration paths are altered to bypass developed rest stops. Plant, animal, and insect species are disappearing along with lost habitat.

When our founder, David Salman, was a boy growing up in the Southwest, the mountains and arroyos were his playground. He had a passion for insects and developed a keen interest in identifying the native plants required to feed his collection. As he grew, David witnessed firsthand how relentless growth challenged the delicate balance between progress and preservation – whether it was disappearing native plants from which he once collected seeds, gardens and nurseries with declining biodiversity, or imported landscapes misaligned with the unique needs of the West. David recognized the challenge and set out on a mission to make a difference.

Our gardens must be more than just beautiful 

David understood that to co-exist with the land and wildlife, we needed to adapt our gardening practices, and to see plants for not only their beauty, but also their ability to preserve the environment. Fortified with a degree in horticulture, a shovel, a greenhouse, and a spirit of adventure, David got to work building what would become his legacy. He explored mountains, plains, forests, and canyons in search of plants that thrive in the challenging conditions of the West. Soon, gardeners were flocking to Santa Fe to discover High Country Gardens – a place of expert advice, passionate community, and a palette of plants that were beautiful, resilient, sustainable, and suited for the extreme conditions from which they evolved.

Together we can make a difference, one garden at a time 

Decades later, our mission at High Country Gardens is as important as ever: doing good through sustainable gardening. We continue to offer a diverse and ever-expanding selection of plants for the unique challenges of Western gardens – and for people across the country who believe that their garden can be more than just beautiful. We continue to provide gardeners with the inspiration and advice needed to make a difference, right in their backyard. At High Country Gardens, we know that together with our passionate customers, we can each play a vital role in helping to solve environmental challenges today, while planting the seeds for a better tomorrow.

Sustainability Begins In Your Backyard 

The Legacy of David Salman | High Country Gardens founder David Salman was a pioneer of waterwise gardening, a passionate plant explorer, and a charismatic storyteller. His commitment to cultivating a palette of beautiful waterwise plants transformed gardening in the American West. 

Explore More High Country Gardens Resources

A waterwise native garden in New MexicoA waterwise native garden in New Mexico

Visit Our Learning Center: Sustainability Begins In Your Backyard

David Salman, High Country Gardens FounderDavid Salman, High Country Gardens Founder

In Memoriam | David Salman, Pioneer of Xeriscaping

A waterwise perennial garden with kniphofia, echinacea, nepeta, coreopsis, columbine, and more in TexasA waterwise perennial garden with kniphofia, echinacea, nepeta, coreopsis, columbine, and more in Texas

Outstanding Customer Landscapes

The High Country Gardens Story
Pioneers In Sustainable Gardening

David Salman opened Santa Fe Greenhouses in 1984. In his first retail store, he set out to transform western gardening by cultivating and growing beautiful blooming perennials, native plants, ornamental grasses, and unique cacti and succulents. These xeric or "waterwise" plants attracted a loyal fan base, and David helped to change the face of western gardening from rocks and cactus to lush-blooming eco-friendly garden habitats.

 Development greenhouses and test gardens in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
As his retail operation grew, David realized that many of his customers were driving to Santa Fe from other states, as his unique plants thrived in the moderate to extreme climates and altitudes of the American Southwest and Intermountain West. Plus, the waterwise perennials saved customers both money and time, earning their keep as valuable garden plants.

With the demand for his plants extending far beyond northern New Mexico, David started High Country Gardens in 1993, the mail-order division of Santa Fe Greenhouses. A few years later, his wife Ava joined the company. David focused on plant development, and Ava spearheaded the marketing and e-commerce operations with the High Country Gardens catalog and website. Their catalog won four Silver Awards and a Gold Award for Best Gardening Catalog by Catalog Age magazine. The Salmans not only pioneered mail-order gardening, they also have given thousands of customers across the country sustainable, low-water landscapes that grow to be more beautiful every year.

 Ethan Platt, president of High Country Gardens and American Meadows, with David Salman, Founder and Chief Horticulturist of High Country Gardens.

In late 2012, the Salman family closed their retail garden centers and sold High Country Gardens to American Meadows, a company that shares their passion for high-quality plants and superior customer service.  With this partnership, the company has been able to expand capacity for e-commerce operations and greenhouse space. David Salman continues as Chief Horticulturist for High Country Gardens, a role in which he can focus on developing unique and award-winning plant varieties, which are introduced each year. 

High Country Gardens Plants
David Salman has spent years perfecting his growing methods for the wide variety of new and unusual garden-tested perennials, grasses, and shrubs for High Country Gardens customers. David continues to propagate High Country Gardens' exclusive plant selections in his Santa Fe greenhouses. Common varieties are grown by trusted western growing partners. Our custom-designed packaging ensures that your plants from High Country Gardens are fresh and ready to thrive in your garden. Learn More: How Our Plants Ship.

David Salman - High Country Gardens Founder
David Salman, Founder and Chief Horticulturist at High Country Gardens, has spent over 30 years in pursuit of better plants for eco-friendly landscapes. David is a distinguished recipient of the American Horticultural Society (AHS) 2008 Great American Gardeners Award. He is a recognized expert in the field of waterwise gardening and xeriscaping and a sought-after speaker on these subjects throughout the United States. 


Watch and learn with David Salman in our video series!
2010 marked High Country Gardens' first plant patent, Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition' PPAF (Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass) was discovered and introduced by High Country Gardens' founder and chief horticulturist, David Salman and was the 2011 Plant Select® winner. 'Blonde Ambition' is native to 26 states and has performed exceptionally well across the country, particularly in hardiness zones 4-9.


Learn More: Meet Chief Horticulturist David Salman
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