The 20th Anniversary of High Country Gardens; A transition to the future

Ava and David in 1989 at SFG Ava and David in 1989 at SFG

With so many people I know, 2012 was a hugely transitional year. And with transition comes change. And change was a part of my life as well. After 30 years of running the family owned retail garden center, nursery and production greenhouse, I closed Santa Fe Greenhouses due to hard economic times and years of drought. *

As founder, part owner and President of the company which included the High Country Gardens catalog, this was a game changer. But as they say, “when one door closes, another one opens.” So I’m very happy to say that the High Country Gardens catalog with live on to celebrate its 20th year anniversary under new ownership.

American Meadows, Inc. is now the proud new owner and they will continue to operate the catalog and website under the High Country Gardens name. I have a new job as the consulting Chief Horticulturist for High Country. In this position, I’ll be helping American Meadows for the next few years writing the HCG catalog and transitioning the growing and shipping operations to Center Greenhouse of Denver, CO. I will also be in charge of selecting the plants to be sold through the catalog which will include many of my current and future plant introductions.

Closing the business has been a huge, very difficult change for myself and the Salman family. But after 30 years of overseeing the catalog, the retail businesses in Santa Fe and Albuquerque and all the growing operations where we grew our plants, I’m exhausted and ready to move on. And I’m looking forward to focusing the rest of my career on what I love most; spending my time out in nature, exploring for plants in their habitats as well as breeding and selecting improved eco-friendly, waterwise plants for our landscapes and gardens. I’ll also be continuing my work as a horticultural speaker, traveling around the country to share my knowledge and love for plants and gardening with other gardeners and plant people.
Of course I’ll be continuing this blog, The Xeric Gardener and writing about what I know best; plants, gardening and the natural world. So stay tuned, keep your hands in the soil and remember to plant for pollinators.

*Here in New Mexico, over the last decade (2000-2010), six of those years were in drought. These past 2 years New Mexico (and the portions of the surrounding states) has been in the grip of a one hundred year intensity drought that shows no signs of abating in 2013. In this time of climate change, waterwise landscaping is more important than ever!

21 thoughts on “The 20th Anniversary of High Country Gardens; A transition to the future”

  • Heather vigil
    Heather vigil 03/01/13 at 6:11 pm

    Dear David- I heard roughly a month ago that the Santa Fe greenhouse was closing. We live in Denver, but visit Santa Fe every year-and we would visit the Greenhouse there. I have shopped off and on over the years from HCG. I was deeply saddened by the news, and while the outcome is not completely ideal, I am pleased that HCG will live on. I can certainly see how you became exhausted and stressed. You have brought us gardeners/horticulturists so many wonderful things and taught us wonderful things. I am an arborist/horticulturist here in Denver and we will welcome you with open arms! Praise The Lord. This pleases me greatly. Life is about change and this shall open new doors for you. Will the blog be located in the same place?


    • david salman

      Thank you for your kind comments and best wishes.

      I will continue to write the Xeric Gardener and you can access it directly from the web or click through from the High Country Gardens website. Being spring I will be posting weekly.


  • Mary Lassner
    Mary Lassner 03/02/13 at 2:18 pm

    When I read in the American Gardener how difficult its been for High Country I got quite depressed. So glad you found a way to keep it alive! Though I live in Montana, I'm glad to see you're going to move operations to Denver. When I visit my children I'll try to stop there. Please keep us updated on how that's going.

  • Jenn

    Good to hear from you.

    Hope your new job sits lightly and joyfully on your shoulders! (And I'm very glad that High Gardens will continue, even though I am Low Desert, I've loved your offerings!)

  • Carolyn abram

    Oh David, I was just so shocked to hear what transpired. You have been the source of my garden plants for years, and living in the NE, which have
    given me challenging, but beautiful results. ( most of the time). It sounds like a decent goodbye with many opportunities for new venues for you, but remaining connected to your roots. I wish you the best. I guess it was a good year for me to move into a condo, but come spring, I'm going to study an area of soil that might just hold a few of your plants. All the best to you!!!!

  • Tim and Val Mc Donnell
    Tim and Val Mc Donnell 03/04/13 at 5:31 pm

    Good luck David, in your new venture.
    We shall miss High Country Gardens
    Tim and Valerie

  • David P.

    Almost everything in my Colorado yard (except the bluegrass!) is a result of your horticultural talents, resulting from 7 years of ordering and learning from you. It's beautiful (and that's a complement for you, not me!), and it brings happiness to family and neighbors (as they've often told me).

    It was a happy day when I traveled down to see your Santa Fe store, and I just stood there, almost having to pinch myself. It was a cross between a playground (as I picked plants) and a museum (as I studied the historical catalog covers arrayed on the wall).

    The Salmans will always have a place in my yard and my heart, and I'll bravely order from the next HCG catalog and try not to let my thoughts dwell on the change.

    Thank you. I wish you the best.

  • Gregory B.
    Gregory B. 03/04/13 at 9:43 pm

    This is a bittersweet moment, finding out that you are now back in business.

    I'm really glad that you found a way to make HCG viable again. But, sadly, I found out that you were closing shop last December when I was trying to pre-order stuff for this year (my eMails to you were returned undelivered), so I assumed the closure was permanent, and didn't find out you were reopening under new ownership until a couple of day ago, when your eMails suddenly started arriving again.

    I was really thrilled, but wished you had let us know sooner about your plans, because by this time, I had already ordered my stuff elsewhere. OUCH!! Well, there's next year, and I look forward to your continued commercial success.

    And David, thanks for all the wonderful plants and the priceless advise you've given me (I live on an arid stabilized sand dune in Wyoming), and I envy your opportunity to drench yourself in your real love, without all of the headaches. ENJOY!!

  • merrill jensen
    merrill jensen 03/06/13 at 10:23 am

    Hi David,

    Glad to see that you're still out there! You were my go-to source for plants when I was living in south Idaho. I've since traded warm and dry for cool and very wet in SE Alaska. While I do miss growing your xeric plants, I've found a new love; the genus Primula. Over the past 5 years, I've assembled the national collection at the Jensen-Olson Arboretum in Juneau (no relation to our founder, just good plant karma) You can find photos of what we're up to here on our Facebook page.

    Best wishes to you!!

  • Stephen Gale

    good to hear that David Salman will remain available in the Horticultural World; I've used a number of unique HCG plants in my Denver Garden; Phlomis; Delosperma etc; and also here in my New Jersey Garden; Echinops; Digitalis Obscura etc; I closely read and value his description of each plant"s cultural requirements to learn how to handle them.
    it is encouraging and interesting to know this will continue stephen gale

  • Barbara

    SOOO glad you're back!

  • Tonyp


    So sorry to hear you are closing things. I first bought from HCG in 2003. Always imperssed by the first-rate care you took in everything: catalog, knowledge, plants, packaging, service.

    You have been an inspiration to me in my gardening journey. My best to you and your family!

  • Brad J.


    I agree with Greg B. in that I too was thrilled to learn that you found away to restore HCG. I've bought and experimented with some of your products for the last few years when I lived in NW MO. Now I've moved to SE KS and just bought some Delospermas and other plants. I predict they will do well and I wish the same for you & yours in your new adventures.

  • Carol Parker
    Carol Parker 03/16/13 at 1:08 pm

    I am so glad High Country Gardens is back. I spent lots of time late last summer planning a new more waterwise garden with the HCG plants I love and was crushed when I heard it was going to close. Thank you for your persistence!

  • Cathe Temmerman
    Cathe Temmerman 03/21/13 at 1:54 pm

    I first bought from HCG when I lived in Colorado Springs. The landscaping there (Buffalo Grass and plants) is still in large part a tribute to HCG and Xeric gardening. Then had the pleasure of moving to Pecos, NM and visiting Santa Fe Greenhouses many times while on this property. Next move is to NE Texas--high country it isn't! I wish you well.

  • Loretta McSween
    Loretta McSween 03/24/13 at 6:10 am

    David I live in Gila Hot Springs NM and I have been buying your plants for years. My yard is beautiful as a result of your wonderful native grasses and plants. Just as important was having your beautiful catalogs to educate me and plan my yard
    during our long winter months.The one constant thing in life is change and your changes sound like a great adventure. Thanks so much for all the beauty you have brought in my life and the best to you.

  • Dianne

    I was heartbroken to learn of the Greenhouses closing last fall. Fortunately for me, this happened just as I was landscaping my new home on the mesa near Rowe, NM. I was able to buy many plants, pots, earthboxes, etc. from you. I'll need more plants this spring (finishing more landscape) and will now have to buy mail order. Best of luck as your business transitions to a new model.

  • Joy Calvert
    Joy Calvert 03/31/13 at 2:51 pm

    David, I was shocked to hear that you were not going to be around. I just discovered your catalog lastquality that I have year and the plants that and are thriving here in Las Cruces, NM. Many of them are ones that I can't get locally. I hope that the catalog will be around for many more years with the quality that i have seen so far. t is understandable why you have decided as you have and wish you all the luck in the future.

  • Caroll Lathrop

    I am sorry that you are no longer in control of HCG. I have placed an order now that your company now belongs to American Meadows and have to tell you that if I ever get my order I will probably not place another order. You will be missed by many of us out here.

    • David Salman

      I'm so sorry you've had some problems with your order this spring. But please extend to American Meadows a little patience and understanding. And keep HCG in mind for a fall or spring 2014 order.

      We got a late start on spring. Moving the entire company up to Denver and setting it back up has been a huge undertaking. An unusually cold, cloudy, snowy spring in Denver and a steep learning curve with the software used to run the HCG operations, have cause delays and inventory errors.

      Everyone is working overtime and then some to get everything up and running smoothly. We should have all the wrinkles ironed out by fall.

  • Lynn R

    Santa Fe Greenhouse and the High Country Gardens nurseries in Bernalillo and Albuquerque were my go-to plant sources for too many years to count. I've always referred to your wonderful catalog(s) as the bible of gardening here in New Mexico and have gifted every new neighbor with the latest edition. I'm tremendously saddened to have my favorite nurseries gone now, but am very glad to still have access to this great website of yours. I'm off to hunt down your books because, even after living in this beautiful state of ours for the past 30 years, I can still use all the help I can get!

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