Heroes Of Horticulture

High Country Gardens has partnered with Plant Select® for many years to offer unique, tough, and reliable plants for the waterwise garden. Our partnership continues with Heroes of Horticulture! In this series, we'll feature some of the most well-known names in the industry, and highlight the hard work of the plant enthusiasts behind some of the most popular plants in the High Country Gardens catalog.

What Makes A Hero of Horticulture?

A Horticulture Hero has a passion for plants, is driven to understand and experiment with plants, and is not afraid to fail in pursuit of plant knowledge and discovery. Horticulture Heroes share their knowledge and enthusiasm with an ever-growing exchange of plants, knowledge, networking, and community building within the world of horticulture. With an eye for detail, keen observation skills, and persistent inquiry into the connections between plants, water, soil, living organisms, and the surrounding environment, Horticultural Heroes never stop learning. They are driven to improve the urban environment through their horticultural endeavors. Read on to learn more about some of our Heroes of Horticulture.

Sally Walker: Plant Explorer  |  Lauren Springer: Garden Designer  |  David Salman: Chief Horticulturist


A Tibute To Sally Walker: Plant ExplorerA Tibute To Sally Walker: Plant Explorer


By David Salman, High Country Gardens Chief Horticulturist

The gardening world has been enriched by generations of plant explorers and seed collectors who have spent their lives in remote regions of the world to bring back plant treasures for gardeners to grow and appreciate.  Western gardeners have Sally Walker, founder of Southwestern Native Seeds of Tucson, Arizona.

Sally and her husband have spent a lifetime exploring the vast areas of the western United States and northern Mexico, searching for beautiful and useful native wildflowers. This is a difficult task that involves many months away from home, driving thousands of miles across the deserts, plains, and mountains to identify and document plants. Then, they must return at just the right time to collect seeds!

Originally from England, Sally studied horticulture and worked in plant nurseries in the United Kingdom and New Zealand before moving to the United States in the 1960s. She worked in California before settling in Arizona with her husband, Tim Walker, who worked for the US Forestry. In 1975, she founded "Sally's Seedery" in Tuscon, AZ, which later became Southwestern Native Seeds. While Southwestern Native Seeds is no longer in business, Sally's impact on the world of native plants lives on!

Gardening is a collaborative effort, and we owe a debt of gratitude to Sally Walker and other Western plant explorers for their work that has enriched our gardens. 

Here we have an image of the 1993-1994 Southwestern Native Seeds catalog. For a transcript of this page of the catalog, click here.

Some of our very best High Country Garden native plants are a result of Sally's efforts and exploration. The plants below are just a few plants that we grow from her seed collections. 

Notable Plants

Arizona Columbine (Aquilegia desertorum)Arizona Columbine (Aquilegia desertorum)
Arizona Columbine (Aquilegia desertorum)
Licorice Mint Hyssop (Agastache rupestris)Licorice Mint Hyssop (Agastache rupestris)
Licorice Mint Hyssop (Agastache rupestris)
Swallowtail Columbine (Aquilegia aff. longissima)Swallowtail Columbine (Aquilegia aff. longissima)
Swallowtail Columbine (Aquilegia aff. longissima)
Cardinal Beardtongue (Penstemon cardinalis)Cardinal Beardtongue (Penstemon cardinalis)
Cardinal Beardtongue (Penstemon cardinalis)

Hand-drawn illustrations on the cover of Southwestern Native Seeds include two well-loved native plants available from High Country Gardens: Penstemon palmeri (Palmer's Penstemon) and Penstemon pseudospectabilis (Desert Penstemon). 

Penstemon palmeriPenstemon palmeri
Penstemon palmeri (Palmer's Penstemon)
Penstemon pseudospectabilisPenstemon pseudospectabilis
Penstemon pseudospectabilis (Desert Penstemon)


By Ross Shrigley and Emily Goldman of Plant Select®

When Lauren Springer's book, The Undaunted Garden, was published in 1994, it was a wake-up call for gardeners, designers, and horticulturists. Until her book debuted, no one at that time understood how gorgeous water-smart gardens in the interior west's climates and soils could be.

Lauren's beautiful photos and intimate writing style illustrated how to create a sense of place, and everyone wanted an "undaunted" garden! A plant's beauty and purpose were revealed through Lauren's work, and so began a regional movement towards lush-looking western gardens with tough and resilient drought-tolerant plants. Lauren challenged growers to ask themselves, "Why aren't we offering more environmentally sustainable plants?" It's no wonder Plant Select® became an organization in 1997, led by a committee of forward-thinking horticulturists, including Lauren. It was this same year that The Undaunted Garden won an American Horticultural Society Award for one of the 75 best gardening books of the 20th century.

Lauren's signature garden designs unabashedly embrace a diverse palette of native plants and regionally attuned exotics. Water-wise plants weave together, colors and textures give you goosebumps, and seasonal shifts are celebrated. Her designs result in dynamic year-round beauty that also benefits wildlife. Lauren grows many of her plants, and has introduced many plants to the regional trade and garden designs across the country. Her work graces botanic gardens, municipal gardens, and non-profits like Plant Select®, where anyone can download a Lauren Springer Ogden Garden Design featuring Plant Select® plants.

Additional books by Lauren include Plant-Driven Design: Creating Gardens That Honor Plants, Place and Spirit (2008), Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens: 200 Drought-Tolerant Choices for all Climates (2011), and Passionate Gardening: Good Advice for Challenging Climates (2000). 

Lauren is now on staff at The Gardens on Spring Creek in Fort Collins, Colorado, managing the 3/4 acre Undaunted Garden and 350 foot long hellstrip garden she created. Lauren continues to share her knowledge and design talent there, inspiring visitors and mentoring the next generation of horticultural heroes! 

Soft Colors Inferno Strip Pre-Planned GardenSoft Colors Inferno Strip Pre-Planned Garden
The Soft Colors Inferno Strip Pre-Planned Garden from High Country Gardens. Designed by Lauren Springer.

Notable Pre-Planned Gardens, Plants, and Books

Butterfly Paradise Pre-Planned Cottage GardenButterfly Paradise Pre-Planned Cottage Garden
Butterfly Paradise Pre-Planned Cottage Garden
Plant Driven Design: Creating Gardens That Honor Plants, Place and Spirit by Scott Ogden and Lauren Springer OgdenPlant Driven Design: Creating Gardens That Honor Plants, Place and Spirit by Scott Ogden and Lauren Springer Ogden
Plant Driven Design: Creating Gardens That Honor Plants, Place and Spirit
Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens by Lauren Springer and Scott OgdenWaterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens by Lauren Springer and Scott Ogden
Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens
Habitat Hero Birdwatcher Pre-Planned GardenHabitat Hero Birdwatcher Pre-Planned Garden
Habitat Hero Birdwatcher Pre-Planned Garden
Silver Spike Grass (Anchnatherum calamagrostis)Silver Spike Grass (Anchnatherum calamagrostis)
Silver Spike Grass (Anchnatherum calamagrostis)

Introduced into cultivation in the US by Lauren Springer. 2006 High Country Gardens Plant of the Year.  

Ultra Violet Salvia (Salvia Ultra Violet PP#21,411)Ultra Violet Salvia (Salvia Ultra Violet PP#21,411)
Ultra Violet Salvia (Salvia Ultra Violet PP#21,411)

Selected by Lauren Springer in her Colorado garden.

'Shimmer' Evening Primrose (Oenothera fremontii Shimmer)'Shimmer' Evening Primrose (Oenothera fremontii Shimmer)
Shimmer Evening Primrose (Oenothera fremontii Shimmer)

Discovered by Lauren Springer in her Colorado garden.


David Salman, Founder and Chief Horticulturist at High Country Gardens, has spent over 30 years in pursuit of better plants for eco-friendly landscapes. Long before "organic" became a household word, David has encouraged gardeners to use sustainable, environmentally friendly practices when gardening. David’s passion for plants has been expressed in the numerous unique plant hybrids he has developed and introduced to the world of horticulture.

David Salman founded Santa Fe Greenhouses in 1984, which led to the start of High Country Gardens as a mail-order catalog in 1993. The award-winning High Country Gardens catalog won four silver awards and one gold award for Best Gardening Catalog by Catalog Age magazine. David is also a founding member of Plant Select® and a distinguished recipient of the 2008 American Horticultural Society Great American Gardeners Award.

In 20 years, David has introduced more than 50 plants! His introductions include native, hybrid, and Old World plants, with a special focus on beautiful plants for waterwise gardens. Showy, waterwise, and pollinator-friendly Agastache are some David Salman's favorite plants to work with - and some of the seeds he used were collected by Horticulture Hero Sally Walker. Learn more about David's work with Agastache: Agastache Introductions. 

Other introductions include Lavender plants, Hesperaloe (Texas Yucca), Salvia plants, and more. David continues to develop exciting new plants for the High Country Gardens catalog, and each year, waterwise gardens across the country benefit from his innovations. See our current selection of Exclusive Plants & Introductions.

Not only are his plants beneficial for waterwise gardens - they're typically excellent for pollinators as well. In David's new FlowerKisser™ plant line, perennial introductions are especially nectar-rich to nourish bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The story behind the name? The Brazilian word for hummingbird translates to “flower kisser.” 

David is a recognized expert in the field of water-wise gardening and xeriscaping and an enthusiastic, highly-sought-after speaker on these subjects throughout the United States. Gardeners who are fortunate enough to speak with David or hear a presentation are sure to be captivated by his storytelling and passion for plants. Fortunately, High Country Gardens is home to a large number of gardening videos where curious gardeners can learn more from our Chief Horticulturist!

Notable Plants

Ava AgastacheAva Agastache
Ava Agastache

2005 High Country Gardens Plant of the Year

Blonde Ambition Blue Grama GrassBlonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass
Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass

2011 High Country Gardens Plant of the Year

Little Night SalviaLittle Night Salvia
Little Night Salvia

2015 High Country Gardens Plant of the Year

Luminous Pineleaf PenstemonLuminous Pineleaf Penstemon
Luminous Pineleaf Penstemon

2016 High Country Gardens Plant of the Year, 2016 Green Thumb Award Winner

Straight Up Red Texas Yucca (Hesperaloe)Straight Up Red Texas Yucca (Hesperaloe)
Straight Up Red Texas Yucca (Hesperaloe)

2017 High Country Gardens Plant of the Year

FlowerKisser™ After Midnight English LavenderFlowerKisser™ After Midnight English Lavender
FlowerKisser™ After Midnight English Lavender

2019 High Country Gardens Plant of the Year

Learn more & discover helpful resources from Plant Select®Learn more & discover helpful resources from Plant Select®
Learn more & discover helpful resources from Plant Select®