What is it about mail-order nurseries that are only open by appointment? Is it the whole in-the-know vibe that comes from being on the guest list? Is it the long and winding journey that it takes to get there? Is it the excitement of getting to meet, in person, all those plants that you’ve been lusting after in the catalog?
For me, it’s the plants themselves. On a recent trip to Digging Dog nursery in Albion, CA (near Mendocino on the coast, a few hours north of San Francisco), I was thrilled to see so many plants in one place that had NOT been forced into premature bloom to impress the impulse shoppers. These are plants for people who know what they’re looking for. And oh, I did.
Digging Dog specializes in perennials, shrubs, and grasses for the west coast climate, but now that I’ve been to Buffalo and seen what you people will do to nurture a plant through the
winter, I’ve got to recommend them to the rest of you. You might have seen their demonstration borders on the cover of Martha Stewart Living’s gardening issue a couple years ago. Fortunately, they haven’t let the celebrity go to their heads: they’re still producing a thick, illustrated catalog (no photos, but you can find those on their website) and selling healthy, well-rooted plants for about six bucks each.
I had come primarily for the salvias. Check out this description and
you’ll see why I read their catalog like a novel:
Salvia sclarea ‘Vatican White’
This nobly architectural Sage has been grown in almost every
botanical sanctuary throughout human history. The catalog of its uses
is extensive: a flavoring for wines and liqueurs; an oil for perfumes,
potpourri and incense (thus becoming known as ‘Vatican White’); while
medicinally, it is reputed to ease stomach ailments and stop the aging
This choice white cultivar, however, is not that easy to find, and
we cultivate it for its stately presence in the border. Large,
gray-green leaves—lance-shaped and leathery—remain attractive
throughout the season. Each stalwart stem is topped with widely
branching panicles of pure white blossoms and big, brilliant, whorled
white bracts, which convey a floral effect from May to September.
Combined with the cool hues of Nepeta ‘Pool Bank’ and Euphorbia
‘Red Wing’s warmth, ‘Vatican White’ adds a bright element to an
arresting composition. Requiring little water or attention, this
vigorous species asks only for a superbly drained site.
Size: 2-1/2‘ high x 2’ wide; hardy to zone 4.