Photo by Ashley Ahearn

Rob Crandall’s Methow Natives store is opening at TwispWorks.

Rob Crandall’s new store offers an eclectic array of native plants

By Ashley Ahearn

When Rob Crandall drives around the Methow Valley this time of year he’s always on the lookout for plants in bloom.

“I’ll be driving 30 – 40 miles per hour and looking out the window spotting blooms because then I know I gotta go back and look for seeds there in a few weeks,” he said.

He says his daughter will yell “Dad!” from the passenger seat, to remind him to keep his eyes on the road.

Crandall has been transfixed by the native plants of the Methow Valley since he moved here 25 years ago. He has a plant nursery at his home where he germinates the native seeds he’s found over the years. And now, he’s ready to share them with the public.

Crandall owns Methow Natives, a local supplier of native plants and seeds in Okanogan County. He’s operated the business out of his home, until now. Starting this spring, Methow Natives will be selling plants from an office next to the Methow Valley Interpretive Center at TwispWorks.

There will be 12 – 15 different types of native seeds available and 25 species of shrubs, grasses and trees — including serviceberry, chokecherry, currant, Hawthorne, Oregon grape, aspen and more. Methow Natives will offer various drought-tolerant plants and other species adapted to all the various climate zones of the Methow — from subalpine wildflowers to lowland wetlands, shrub-steppe sagebrush and forests.

Crandall plans to use his shop front as a way to help valley residents learn more about the native plants here.

“We’ll have good information about seed mixes and getting people on track to restore their land,” Crandall said. “Homeowners move to the valley for the beauty and they want to blend into that natural beauty. It’s about living in this landscape and building resilience.”

Crandall also offers on-site consultation visits for those interested in landscaping with native plants.

Crandall walked through the rows of seedlings and potted plants at his new shop — scarlet gilia, alpine daisy, alumroot, Michaux’s mugwort, aspen, dragon sagewort, rocky mountain penstemon — and paused next to a bushy elderberry, one of his favorites.

“Elderberry is a great pollinator plant with tons of cultural uses — medicinal tinctures, cough syrup and the flowers make a great cordial,” he said.

Crandall designed the native plant garden outside the interpretive center five years ago and his organization is working with the center to do more education and outreach on the cultural significance of native plants in the Methow. They will be hosting an intern this summer from the Colville Tribe.

“We’re trying to keep strengthening connections and be as welcoming and supportive as we can to Native American culture in the valley,” Crandall said.

Crandall has also worked on numerous salmon restoration and revegetation projects throughout the valley over the years, and frequently gives talks to students around Okanogan County. He said he’s an educator at heart.

“I love this place so much. It’s my favorite place in the whole world,” Crandall tells his students. “And with that love comes a sense of stewardship and a desire to take care of this place. We do that by knowing more about it.”

Methow Natives’ TwispWorks shop will be open Fridays from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m., and by appointment. Find out more and get in touch with Rob Crandall at: www.methownative.com.

On Sunday (May 27), Mary Kiesau of the Methow Conservancy will be giving a free guided tour of the native plant garden outside the interpretive center at 5 p.m.