Xera Plants Winter Grow Site Tour

My January is filled with master gardener project meetings, creating garden lessons for my community education classes at Clark College, and building design plans for our front and side gardens. Even with all the garden planning, I've been struggling to find some inspiration and gardening mojo.     

So when my friend, Anna over at Flutter & Hum, asked me to join her on a last minute trip to the Xera Plants grow site, I jumped at the opportunity.  We both love Xera Plants and needed some fun girl time. The last time I toured their grow site, I forgot to bring my camera, but this time I was prepared.

We met up with Greg Shepherd and Paul Bonine, my favorite plantsmen and co-owners of Xera Plants, in their propagation greenhouse. Greg gave us a tour of their propagation house while Paul continued to work, stabbing cuttings into root hormone and then prepared trays of potting mix like a Zen master.

Greg showed us the box that they start seeds in. Any guesses why they need a screened top for the seeds and seedlings? Mice. They devour fresh seedlings and damage young plants. 

 Paul looks over Greg's shoulder as he shows us new seedlings.

Paul looks over Greg's shoulder as he shows us new seedlings.

The second step of the process is to move each seedling into their own cell in large cell packs. 

 So many plants!

So many plants!

Greg thoughtfully checks the root structure on this young succulent. 

xerawintertour3.jpg

Then, we moved through a curtain into the cooler portion of the greenhouse where they harden off the young plants. Greg showed us a healthy batch of Metapanax delavayii. They grow to become an eight foot shrub with fine evergreen foliage that thrive in full sun to part shade. I plan on adding several of these to my front garden this spring.

 Greg holding a Metapanax delavayi.

Greg holding a Metapanax delavayi.

Can you imagine tending so many different young plants with varying needs?

xerawintertour5.jpg

Anna made friends with Miles despite his original suspicions of our motives and plant lust.

 Anna and Miles making friends.

Anna and Miles making friends.

At the end of the greenhouse, by an old swamp cooler, Greg showed us the misting bench. It has taken years of experimentation to determine which plants thrive in this space. 

 Greg points out the misting bench.

Greg points out the misting bench.

Look at all of these plants! I can't wait for my first shopping spree at Xera Plants this spring. The shop reopens in February. 

xerawintertour8.jpg

We returned back to the front and warmer part of the propagation greenhouse and found Paul still hard at work in a meditative state. Go, Zen master, go!

When we stepped outside, I admired their yellow horned poppy, Glaucium flovum, growing as a weed. Even Xera Plants' weeds are cool.

xerawintertour10.jpg

I stepped out the propagation greenhouse with my pupils dilated with a bad case of plant lust and a deeper respect for their process. Thank you, Greg and Paul, for giving us a tour and letting us interrupt your work. 

Then, Anna and I went and explored the other greenhouses filled with plants that are hardy down to at least nineteen degrees. I photographed a nice shopping list for myself that I hope to share here later. With each greenhouse we walked through, I felt more and more inspired to play in my garden. By the time we left, I had a bad case of spring fever in January.

Then we hopped back into my car with Barnaby and he sniffed us over wondering about that Miles character. Thanks, Anna, for a fun adventure and for helping me find my winter gardening mojo.