Kingston Nursery supplies demand for native plants

Salish Trees Nursery is no ordinary nursery as it focuses on native plants.

But it will be even more special in the future as it looks to make its location a destination spot for food trucks, live music and activities.

Mike Winningham and his wife, Patti, decided to open Salish Trees Nursery in Kingston to support the high demand for native plants in Kitsap County. “There is increasing demand and there are not enough nurseries to source native plants. It is not a high-margin business, and it is an expensive world to live in.”

Mike admires landowners Jill and Joe Capra. “They want a community-style market with different businesses but that have some synergy and really draw people to the property.”

The Winninghams opened Salish Trees because they represent a big trend, especially with the impacts of climate change. “When I was in technology, we talked about mega trends,” Mike said. “The huge thing is sustainable living. People care more about native plants because their habitats are disappearing all over the world, and they want to make a difference. Through this sustainable gardening, you can have an immediate impact.”

Salish Trees Nursery has been open since March, and the couple is still making improvements.

Mike has been around native plants in the Pacific Northwest since he was a child. His family has owned land in the Northwest since the 1960s and does a lot of gardening and hiking in the woods. “My father was really into gardening and taught me how to propagate plants,” he said. “I’ve developed a great appreciation for our flowers. It’s a really unique part of the world.”

Patty added: “Mike’s family was packing their backpacks and hiking for a week. He was so excited and brought home all these photos. It was lovely to see his appreciation for the native plants he sees along the way.

Mike left the Northwest for a short time to go to Cornell University in upstate New York. They both graduated from Cornell University as chemists. A few years later, they returned to Washington. Patty worked with the North Kitsap School District while Mike did business development, explored technology, and sought collaborations with startups.

However, Mike left after 25 years to focus on his passion for native plants where he grew up in Kitsap County. “It combined some of my horticultural interests, interests in plants, and understanding how to launch a new business and how to develop protocols for plant propagation,” Mike said. “There’s a lot but not a lot of detail about how to bring more science into how we do propagation.”

Mike worked at Woodbrook Native Plant Nursery in Gig Harbor for a year, but then decided to expand his business from the greenhouse in his backyard. He found a place he was using to house another nursery, Savage Plants and Landscape. “We learned about this property when Savage Plants Nursery and Landscaping was here,” Mike said. “When this sign came up for sale, I finished my business plan and showed it to a realtor.”

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