David Salman, pioneer of xeriscaping and Western gardening, dies at 65 – Nursery Management


The intrepid plant explorer introduced more than 60 plants and led the way for sustainable, waterwise landscaping.
David Salman — a pioneer of waterwise gardening, passionate plant explorer, and charismatic storyteller — passed away on Sunday, June 5, 2022. His commitment to cultivating a palette of beautiful waterwise plants transformed gardening in the American West.
Founder of Santa Fe Greenhouses, High Country Gardens and Waterwise Gardening, David Salman was an expert in the field of waterwise gardening and xeriscaping. He was a distinguished recipient of the 2008 American Horticultural Society Great American Gardeners Award. For decades, he encouraged environmentally conscious gardening practices, long before “organic” became a household word. He was also an enthusiastic, highly sought-after speaker on these subjects. Gardeners who were fortunate enough to speak with David or hear his presentations were sure to be captivated by his knowledge, experience, and passion.
Armed with a degree in horticulture, a shovel, and a spirit of adventure, David set out on a mission. He started in 1984 with a single greenhouse and brought his revolutionary vision for the future of gardening to the community of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Over time, through a commitment to waterwise, native, and habitat-friendly plants, his business grew into a brand that inspired millions of Americans to consider sustainability in their own yards.
David had a gift for seeking out and propagating unique plant species native to the wild landscapes of the Southwest. His many years of intrepid explorations collecting seeds and specimens around the world led to the introduction of more than 60 plants to the horticulture trade. In 1996, his introduction of Agastache rupestris caught the attention of gardeners and plant breeders across the country; the rare species with showy sunset-colored blooms and a delicious aroma became an instant garden sensation. Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ P.P. #22048, a selection of native blue grama grass with distinctive horizontal seed heads, was patented in 2010 and remains a mainstream staple for landscape designers.
A self-described “off the wall plant-nerd,” and “plant explorer with a gift for talking to plants,” David’s passion started at an early age. Growing up in Houston, TX and La Cueva, NM, his playground included bayous, mountains, and arroyos. He observed as development encroached on butterflies, insects, and the plants that support them, and he became determined to make a difference. In 1979, he graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Horticultural Science. Five years later, he founded Santa Fe Greenhouses with a focus on cold-hardy, drought-tolerant plants. The business quickly became a legendary destination for gardeners.
David was also a founding member of Plant Select, a collaboration between Colorado State University and Denver Botanic Gardens. Founded in 1992, the organization has united renowned horticulturists, plant breeders, landscapers, and commercial plant growers with the goal of introducing plants that thrive in the Great Plains and Intermountain states. The organization enabled David to introduce many of his 60+ plant varieties.
In response to ever-increasing demand for his plants, David and his wife, Ava, launched High Country Gardens in 1993. David focused on plant development while Ava spearheaded the print catalog and website. The catalog won four Silver Awards and one Gold Award for Best Gardening Catalog by Catalog Age Magazine and inspired many loyal fans.
After nearly 30 years in business, David was ready to dedicate more time to plant breeding, his home gardens, and exploring the increasingly scarce wild landscapes of the Southwest. In 2012, the Salmans closed their garden centers and sold their mail-order division to like-minded online retailer American Meadows. David stayed on as High Country Gardens’ Chief Horticulturist, where he played an integral, highly respected role in product development and education. David’s passion for plants persisted, and in 2013 he returned to the Santa Fe market with a new wholesale business, Waterwise Gardens. There, and in his ongoing role at High Country Gardens, David focused on the art of plant propagation, inspiring gardeners, and furthering his vision for sustainable gardening.
Though he sometimes claimed he was better at talking to plants than people, he was an avid storyteller and spent countless hours mentoring the next generations of horticulturists and plant lovers. David’s legacy will live on in the many gardens he inspired that grow more beautiful every year.
High Country Gardens is the nation’s premier e-retailer of beautiful, native, waterwise plants. HCG offers gardeners knowledge, inspiration, and plants to help conserve resources, restore biodiversity, and preserve the environment. Founded in 1993 by award-winning horticulturist David Salman, the brand is committed to making a difference through sustainable gardening.
For more information visit www.HighCountryGardens.com/contact-us
Maynor will supply BioWorks customers in the Northeast with information and education.
Maddie Maynor has been named technical services specialist, Northeast US region at BioWorks. In her new position, Maynor will be providing customers in the Northeast information and education on BioWorks’ products, services and programs to ensure the successful outcomes the grower community is looking for.

Maynor brings over 10 years of commercial growing, operations management and IPM strategies implementation to the BioWorks’ Technical Services team. She most recently held positions as a lead grower at North Creek Nurseries and field horticulturalist at Longwood Gardens. Maynor has also been featured in numerous industry magazines highlighting her interest and desire to inform and educate – a key component in her new role.

“Maddie is a welcome addition to the technical services team.” said Erfan Vafaie, Ph.D., technical services director. “Her experience and practical understanding of commercial growing operations together with a strong IPM background makes her ideally suited to serve and advise BioWorks’ customers across the Northeast region. Growers will truly benefit from the practical knowledge and support they will experience with Maddie as we continue to expand our products and services.”
Maynor may be reached at (585) 514-6393, or by email at [email protected].
Breeden Family Farms will produce perennials, shrubs and woody ornamentals with several key former Van Essen employees.
Derry and Celia Breeden, along with baby Silvia Anne, are continuing the Van Essen tradition of growing perennial flowers, woody shrubs and ornamentals. Along with consulting from Dave Van Essen, the Breedens are fortunate to have brought on Pablo Gonzales, who was Van Essen’s head nurseryman for 27 years, and his wife, Antonia, another longtime employee.
Read the full story from the Lebanon Express.
The flower bulb and perennial distributor welcomes van der Schaaf as sales manager.
Robin van der Schaaf has joined 2Plant International as their new sales manager. His primary responsibilities will be to further develop the West Coast for flower bulbs and perennials. In addition, he will assist in the development of key 2Plant programs throughout North America.
van der Schaaf brings over 20 years of horticultural experience to the organization, including sales, new product introduction, technical knowledge and so on.  
2Plant International is a distributor of flower bulb and perennial programs, including the brands Lily Looks and Growing Colors.  
The contest encourages middle schoolers nationwide to consider the characteristics of two existing plants to create a plant mash-up with new qualities that could help their community.
Seed Your Future’s fifth annual plant drawing contest captured the imaginations of a record 6,050 children — a 36% increase from 2021 — opening their eyes to the possibilities of plants and a potential career path.
Seed Your Future and Scholastic’s Plant Mash-Up contest encourages middle schoolers nationwide to consider the characteristics of two existing plants to create a plant mash-up with new qualities that could help their community.
The Plant Mash-Up is more than a contest for a monetary prize; it offers children three ways to tackle larger societal problems that don’t have clear or easy answers, says Jazmin Albarran, executive director of Seed Your Future, the Society of American Florists’ partner to help build the floriculture and horticulture labor pipeline.
“One, it allows them to express their own creativity and show that they have the potential to be a problem solver,” she says. “Two, that they can then impact their community, their backyards, their families, their school, their environment. Three, they can do it through plants.
“That’s the whole thing. We want to get young people excited about coming into careers working with flowers and plants, and what better [way to do that] than using plants to solve issues in their own community.”
This year’s first place winner is Chloe Grace N., an eighth-grader from New Castle, Indiana. She combined an aloe vera plant and a burgundy rubber tree to address air pollution and promote wound healing. “The leaves of the hybrid tree are aloe leaves, which produce useful antioxidants for improved health, and have powerful health remedies that accelerate wound healing, as well as fighting off dangerous bacteria,” she wrote in her entry.
This year’s runner-up is Anna K., an eighth-grader from Shawnee, Kansas. She combined a silver maple and a breadfruit tree to address the problem of food deserts and malnutrition. “If these two could be combined, low-income citizens could have access to nutritious food from a tree that grows everywhere in the U.S. already,” she wrote in her entry.
This year’s sweepstake winner is Itais E., a sixth-grader from New Albany, Ohio, who combined a snake plant with an areca palm to address air pollution.
As Albarran reviewed the entries, she noticed mature themes mental health, shelter, erosion, air pollution, climate change, hydration, world hunger and diseases such as malaria.
“It was incredible to see the different topics that this contest can touch,” she says.
This contest is designed to get children thinking about plants at a critical age that could have a lifelong impact.  Seed Your Future’s research has found that middle school is when children are starting to think about what they want to do when they grow up. In many states, middle schoolers are deciding what high school they want to attend based on their interests, such as a performing arts school.
“You can play a part in reaching young people and reaching the next generation of professionals simply by putting this contest in front of as many middle schoolers in your area as possible,” she says. “I want to see 50,000 kids participating in this event next year.”
The Plant Mash-Up is but one way to introduce children to a possible career in flowers and plants, and there are plenty of other ways to get them involved the rest of the year. For example, a florist could invite a local Boy Scout Troop or Girl Scout Troop for a field visit, Albarran says. The florist could then use resources from Seed Your Future or come up with a hands-on activity for the children, such as arranging a bouquet for their moms.
“I want people to see our resources as a gateway to starting a relationship with the local school, the local YMCA…and every organization that is serving youth in outdoor spaces,” Albarran says. “Reach out to these people and say, ‘Do you know about Seed Your Future? Here are some cool videos, and if you ever want, you can come on site and learn more about different [career] roles.’”
And if the prospect of helping to find the next generation of workers for the floriculture and horticulture industries sounds daunting, it doesn’t have to be — and industry professionals don’t have to do it alone. Albarran emphasizes the importance of relationship building to help address labor shortages.
Albarran suggests that floral business can seek out other floral professionals, community organizations and partners such as Seed Your Future to help teach children about careers with flowers and plants. Working together makes the task more manageable, she says, and those partnerships can focus on finding two or three area schools or organizations to build relationships with.
She also wants to be sure that industry professionals know they have a partner in Seed Your Future.
“I always want the industry to know that they play a role in this and they have allies in Seed Your Future,” Albarran says. “They can volunteer with us, whether it’s through sharing our resources or volunteering and building relationships. And together, we can reach out to schools in their neighborhood.”
For more information, visit seedyourfuture.org and SAFNow.org    

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