Sunday, September 14, 2014

Chelsea: a Colorado Native Plant nursery

Tony Urschitz and Stacey Stecher: proud owners of Chelsea Nursery
Native plant nurseries are a dime a dozen in California, say, or in the Eastern United States: they are rare as hens' teeth in Colorado. Right now, the only retail/wholesale native plant nursery I can think of in my native state is Chelsea Nursery, in Clifton, Colorado. I have been fortunate to have known Tony Urschitz and Stacey Stecher for a very long time (I don't think they want to divulge the number of decades either). I doubt that you will find a nursery of any kind with a higher level of excellence when it comes to growing and maintaining their plants. Their prices (frankly) are on the very low side, but their unflagging enthusiasm, superb plantsmanship and meticulousness is off the charts. I visit Chelsea every time I'm in the Grand Valley--and you should too! It will lighten your pocket book, I can guarantee you, but it will enrich your garden and your life!

Not a bad backdrop for a native plant nursery! That's Mt. Garfield towering over them.

A picture I took two years ago when I visited: Cylindropuntia viridiflora (left) and C. whipplei (right) were in full bloom then!
I had to include a picture or two from a few years ago to show the many cacti they grow in bloom.

The nursery is really quite large--and unlike so many garden centers, they grow practically every twig themselves from seed or cutting.

Teucrium cossonii
It was this impressive to see a nice block of this fabulous and rarely seen endemic of the Balearic Islands of Spain. I don't know if you could find it for sale in all of Denver this year.

Grusonia clavata
Not just any old form of this wonderful white sheathed cactus--the GIANT form...ridiculously cheap.

A wonderful variety of plants--herbaceous, woody, succulent, shrubs and even trees!

The cacti are to DIE for...

You can probably tell that I'm a succulent fancier...

A nice block of Blonde Ambition blue gramma grass. They have a great assortment of Plant Select--particularly the native plants in that program.

Penstemon alamosensis
One of the rarest and most desirable penstemons...

Aloinopsis spathulata
One does not often see this Mesemb in nurseries, and never in such huge pots!

Psilostrophe bakeri

The wonderful endemic paperflower of the Grand Valley: this should be in Plant Select! (Did you hear that Pat?)

Silene petersonii
A rare endemic Catchfly from the Wasatch Range. One of these hitch-hiked home with me!

Chilopsis linearis
I was sorely tempted to buy one of these-.-NEXT spring

Eriogonum corymbosum
I never dreamed I'd see a hardy buckwheat  this size! They're the only nursery to sell these in gallons I know of (and only two nurseries I know if grow this at all).

Demonstration garden
They have a huge demo garden full of treasures.

Another view of the demonstration garden
The big yellow mounds are paper flower, and the white more buckwheat...

Can you tell I was smitten by the Eriogonum corymbosum.

Grusonia clavata
Get a load of the seedpods on this cactus!

Pediocactus simpsonii

Pediocactus simpsonii
Bear with me--these are champion Mountain ball cacti!
Pediocactus simpsonii
One bigger than the next...

Pediocactus simpsonii
Do contemplate this Leviathan for a moment: I was dumstruck (it's a foot across!)
Another glimpse of the demonstration garden

More sexy cacti

And of course no self-respecting Western garden can be without a skull
Or two.

The Grand Valley around Grand Junction is wonderful most any time of year. But in Peach season, it's the best. Drop on by and I'll share a good, slightly overripe Elberta with you!


  1. Concur completely. Have known Stacey since college days. They have succeeded where others failed with an assortment of plants ignored by most. Kudos to them! J. Borland

  2. Great to see some intermountain / desert natives for sale there! May have to visit and combine my trip with a winery and peach stand, or two.

    1. You'd have a very good time--but hurry: those peaches don't last all fall!

  3. That is a beautiful nursery in beautiful surroundings.

    Don't tell anyone ... but I see some weed fabric under the Pediocactus simpsonii. Shhh

    We wouldn't want the country club rock gardeners to find out. ;)


    1. I debated including that shot.....glad now that I didn't! Those rock gardeners don't read my blog, James!

  4. Trippy place PK> Thanks for sharing and enlightening (as usual!). ZZ Top is alive and well and gardening and propping in Colorado!
    Loved the skulls and the flow of the garden. Troughs? Crevices? Who needs'em?

    Looks better if you don't have to have them or big, clunky bourgeois urns too.

    Congrats to the Old Guard!

  5. Thanks for the post. I had been looking for something related on wholesale nursery


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