Colvos Creek Nursery on Vashon Island, a fixture at every specialty plant sale for years and a once-thriving mail order and retail nursery, sent up the red flag this week and announced they're closing. Running a nursery is like teaching yoga - very tough to make a living. People grow and sell plants, and teach yoga, because they love to do it, but at some point this can wear a little thin.
Here's Colvos Creek's explanation of what has changed in the last decade:
"As the new century began, the horticultural pot was boiling over, and someone turned down the heat. The long climb of horticultural sales leveled off, and then began to decline. Plants that once attracted crowds and high prices now sit barely noticed on nursery shelves.
There must be several reasons for this decline. Younger people are often too busy or attracted to other pursuits to be that interested in plants; the older customers who once thronged to nurseries and plant sales are retired to condos or simply gone, and those still gardening have no more room; those who dabbled in gardening only because it was ‘in’ are out. Add to these the bad economy and the sad trend begins to make some sense."
But those of us still buying plants are a big part of the problem too. When you scout a specialty nursery and then buy plants at Home Depot or Fred Meyer to get a better price, you're killing smaller nurseries. I can't tell you how often I've heard people brag about their cleverness is finding cheaper plants at a big box store. I cringe, because soon enough we won't have any choice left but to shop these stores. It's not unlike small bookstores closing because of amazon's increasing monolopy. The result? Fewer passionate and knowledgeable people to seek advice from, far, far fewer plant choices and a sterility of experience.
Colvos Creek, like all good nurseries, is going out with a big sale. On June 21 - 28. They generously include a list of recommended nurseries in their good-bye missive:
"We are sad to announce that we are closing our nursery. It has always been hard to run it part-time, and now without a retail location, it is much harder still. Also, we both have other careers that need more of our time. So we need to move on.
We will miss finding and propagating new plants and making them available. We will especially miss our customers and talking with them about the plants. To give all of you one last chance to enjoy some of our plants, and to get them to good homes, we are planning two final sales, Saturday June 21 and Saturday June 28 at our growing location, 21616 101st Lane SW, Vashon, WA 98070. We will be open from 10 am-5 pm; please park on the street. All plants will be HALF PRICE.
For those still looking for interesting plants, we suggest the following nurseries, run by serious plant lovers and good horticultural friends:
Celestial Dream Gardens, Kingston, WA / CelestialDreamGardens@hotmail.com
Cistus Nursery, Portland, OR / cistus.com
Desert Northwest, Sequim, WA / desertnorthwest.com
Dragonfly Farms, Hansville, WA / dragonflyfarmsnursery.com
Far Reaches Nursery, Port Townsend, WA / farreachesfarm.com