This week, we thought we would tell you a bit more about our trip to the States....
Leaving California, Barb and I drove north to Oregon where the landscape changed dramatically from wide open plains into tree-clad mountain country.
Our next stop was Horizon Herbs , a seed company specialising in native herbs of North America and traditional herbs from around the world. You can visit them at www.horizonherbs.com.
Richo the owner, who is a Richard Branson lookalike, gave Barbara and I an informative guided tour of his property and plant collection where we viewed Black Cohosh, American Ginseng and Goldenseal growing in its natural shady environment, as well as many Salvias, Angelicas, Alliums, Echinaceas and succulents. We have brought back a number of interesting varieties with us from Richo's garden to trial over the next season and see how they go in our climate.
His property like many others we drove past in our travels are enclosed with deer fencing to keep out the many feral deer that wander in looking for a free meal.
Other critters and varmints with bad gardening attitudes are gophers, who burrow incredible labyrinths under everything, and raccoons who do the equivalent damage to our opossum but can grow to twice the size. You are lucky if you have a resident King Snake in your garden as they will kill Rattlesnakes!
The most fascinating, delightful creature we came across was the tiny hummingbird. No more than the length of your middle finger from beak to toe, they are attracted to nectar bearing flowers and birdfeeders with sugar water in them, rocketing at a blinding speed around the evening garden.
While much of Oregon is very hilly and mountainous, there are still vast areas of flat land like the Willamette Valley dedicated to seed production in much the same way as our Canterbury Plains.
Our drive North continued for another two days, up through Oregon and Washington to just past Seattle where we met with a regular supplier of ours from whom we get Carrot and Pak Choi seed.
From the low tech of Horizon Herbs to the high tech modern facility of this supplier was an amazing contrast in styles of operation. They had recently moved to their new facility, which was the size of several football fields and they had installed a brand-new seed testing lab you could swing a cat in whereas their previous lab had been known as the broom closet.
We had interesting discussions on new varieties of carrots and salad greens that will appear in the next catalogue and thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality shown to us.
Stay tuned as next week we will tell you a little bit about our visit to the San Francisco area....