High Country Gardens, 1998

Xeriscape: to embody the principles of water conservation through creative landscaping. High Country Gardens: a Silver Award-winning catalog specializing in xeric, or water-wise, plants for Western gardeners.

High Country Gardens sells more than 250 varieties of perennial plants, such as moonshine yarrow and licorice mint, designed to grow in Western climates. “There’s an incredible variety of vegetation for every niche” of the Western garden market, marvels one judge. For certain, the catalog features enough product to satisfy even the most discerning gardener in the West, although another judge points out that the pagination of the merchandise selection is a bit confusing. “Alphabetizing the products would be helpful to the consumer,” the judge suggests.

High Country Gardens packs a lot of product-and information-onto each page, so much that readers have to get to the clear and easy-to-use order blank to get a blast of white space. The book’s design is not its strong point: The high-density format “leads the reader to skim over products, rather than examine each plant individually,” says one judge. Also, it doesn’t provide a close-up photo of each plant, instead favoring far-away shots of several plants, the panelist says. But the informative copy shines-and establishes High Country Gardens as an authority on Western gardening and xeriscapes. Copy “leads to a sale through its comprehensive discussion of the merits of each plant,” a judge says.

The catalog also features “David’s Helpful Hints” from president David Salman, whom readers meet in the introductory letter on the opening spread. Tips include how to plant a thyme lawn and proper soil preparation, as well as a listing of rabbit- and deer-resistant plants. Icons indicate plant features, such as attractiveness to hummingbirds and butterflies, the amount of sun or shade needed, and which plants require little or any water after planting. The only caveat, says one judge, is that the book assumes readers have prior knowledge of xeriscape perennials: “You have to take care of the novice gardener too.”

Without a doubt, High Country Gardens provides more technical information about the products than anyone could desire. “Providing a complete directory with photos and information converts this into a keeper with a long shelf life,” says one panelist.

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