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Reaching Far for the Best Plants

Articles: Reaching Far for the Best Plants

A flowery portion of the border in early summer. Photographs by Sue Milliken

[sidebar]Plant label from Far Reaches Farm

Berkheya cirsiifolia
Zulu thistle. This is a formidable thistle clad in spiny foliage, but, much like seeing a Hell’s Angel biker reading Emily Dickinson, its flowers reveal a gentle and joyous heart. Soft white ray florets surround a darker center button, not unlike a prairie Echinacea. Easy yet rare perennial.
Kelly Dodson[/sidebar]

Why would anyone drive to Port Townsend, on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, just to buy plants, wondered my brother, who is definitely not a plant geek. The wild descriptions on the plant tags were what he fell in love with first at Far Reaches Farm. Then he met proprietors Kelly Dodson and Sue Milliken, who, together, are worth the driving time and price of a ferry ticket. Between the two of them, they tally seventy-five years of passionate plant addiction. Binomials seem tattooed into their brains; like the dirt under their nails, their attachment to the cultivation and breeding of plants will not wash out with a mere recession.

The less obvious as...

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