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Planting a New Stock Plant Bed in Bernalillo, NM

I enjoy the anticipation of putting a big planting of new perennials into the ground. It’s exciting to see new transplants I've been growing since last summer or fall, establish and mature to their full beauty. As a critical part of the perennial testing and propagation at High Country Gardens, I spend a lot of time planting and maintaining beds where we can grow new plants for testing and evaluation. When they do well, we start propagating then using the plants to produce seed and cuttings.  Over the past couple of weeks my longtime garden assistant Humberto and I finished planting and installing the drip irrigation lines for about 300 year old seedlings behind our High Country Gardens greenhouses in Bernalillo, NM.

We now grow and ship our HCG plants in the 1 ½ acres of new greenhouses we built in the town of Bernalillo (pronounced Bern –a- li-yo). Bernalillo is a sleepy little town surrounded by two Indian pueblos (small communal towns), Santa Ana and Sandia. About 1,500 ft. lower elevation than Santa Fe, which is my home base, Bernalillo has been an agricultural community for centuries; first to the Native American Pueblo peoples and then to the colonial Spanish settlers (since the 1600’s). I’m very pleased to be able to continue the area’s agricultural history growing our plants.

Bernalillo has a warmer, longer growing season than Santa Fe, which is exactly what I need. One of the plants now in the ground there, Vernonia lindheimeri v. leucophylla (Silver Ironweed) doesn’t have a long enough growing season in Santa Fe to ripen its seed. The frost zaps the seeds every October. Just introduced this spring after 4 years of work, we have been growing this incredible West Texas native from cuttings. But I’d prefer to grow it from seed. And I fully expect that Bernalillo’s extra month of frost free fall weather and hotter summer temperatures with enable our stock plants to ripen an abundant seed crop.

We grow much of our own seeds. It’s a lot of extra work but, because many of our plants aren’t in general cultivation, their seeds aren’t available through regular commercial sources. Other plants, we grow from cuttings. So a portion of our stock plants are used to harvest young branch tips to be rooted. We learn so much about a plant by growing it. For me and my staff, this is a big part of the anticipation created with a new stock bed planting. Hopefully, you will be enjoying future High Country plant introductions grown from plants that are now residing in sunny Bernalillo.