Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Am I a plant shopaholic?

The friend I joined on a 6-nursery trek through San Diego County in October and I took another trip last Saturday.  We'd planned to visit 3 or 4 nurseries but only made it to 2, which was entirely my fault.  I spent so long at the first nursery, Seaside Gardens in Carpinteria, we didn't have time to make the other stops we'd planned in Santa Barbara County without sacrificing our plan to swing by Sperling Nursery in Calabasas on the way home.  Still, I managed to fill the trunk and backseat of my friend's car.  In my defense, I do have a lot of area to fill now that our front yard is finally (mostly) ready for planting.  I'll provide an update on the progress my husband and I've made there in the near future but, for now, I thought I'd share the highlights of last Saturday's trip.

I've posted photos of Seaside Gardens before but there's always something new to see.  Half the 3-acre nursery is devoted to a demonstration garden, which is worth a visit all by itself.  I started in the Australian area and meandered through the adjoining South African and Mediterranean areas.

Unspecified variety of Banksia

I'm not a palm aficionado but I stopped in my tracks when I saw this one, which I think must be Bismarckia nobilis

There were several impressive Duranta repens grown as small trees.  This one had a mass of Tagetes lemmonii at its feet.

The garden has a large group of mature Leucadendron, underplanted with Osteospermum

I think most of these were Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset' - who knew they could get that big?

Lomandra longifolia, which I've used extensively in my own garden as a grass substitute

The most beautiful mass planting of Russelia equisetiformis I've ever seen anywhere


Next up was the succulent and desert plants area.

The sun was high in the sky so my photos are over-exposed but the view is still glorious



Aloes were in bloom everywhere - I think this one is A. arborescens

Aloe saponaria

Aloe wickensii

Ponytail palms (Beaucarnea recurvata)?

Cotyledon orbiculata (aka Pig's Ear)

Dasylirion longissimum

A mass planting of Kalanchoe (no ID)


I checked out the grasses too.

I loved this low-growing grass, Tripsacum floridana, but it wasn't available for sale

These tall grasses looked wonderful in the sun


There were also lots of interesting plants for sale, including:

Grevillea 'Little Honey'

Grevillea 'Long John,' which is said to be similar to the smaller G. 'Bonfire' I planted in my garden a few months ago

Grevillea 'Ned Kelly' - mine hasn't yet bloomed

Grevillea 'Robyn Gordon,' which is similar to the G. 'Superb' in my garden

I was very tempted by this Phylica pubescens until I saw the $400 price tag


I was on the look-out for Grevillea 'Peaches and Cream,' which Seaside didn't have; however, I managed to pick up a dozen small succulents and a half-dozen other plants before we left.  After lunch, we drove back south and stopped at another of my favorite nurseries, Sperling, in Calabasas.  I didn't take many photos there - I was too busy plant shopping.  In preparing this post, I discovered that the Sperling property is up for sale, a prospect that I've feared since I heard that the founder had passed away.  I'm very afraid that the 10+ acre property could be sold to a developer, which will be deeply disappointing as this is a truly great nursery.

I did make a quick round of the gift shop, a place I rarely get to when visiting Sperling


If I didn't have my husband hard at work laying paving stones in our front yard, I'd ask him to make me a replica of these wooden deer

And I took note of a new collection of small-sized Agave specimens, 2 of which came home with me


That's it for Saturday's jaunt, which lightened my pocketbook but produced a haul of 35 plants (not including 4 my friend sent home with me).  Since Saturday, I've spent all my free moments planting but still have a lot left to get in the ground ahead of the rain storm forecasters are predicting for early next week.  I'll share photos of some of the new additions soon.


All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

31 comments:

  1. Wow! what cool places! You should buy the one that's for sale and become a nursery owner. Wouldn't that be great? A lot of hard work and worry with nary a day off but great... To answer your question, no, you are not a plant shopaholic. You are a conscientious American doing her part to stimulate the economy, support small family farms and help the agricultural industry! I salute you and think that more people should follow your fine example. (If you find yourself living in your car with your plant collection because you bought plants instead of paying the mortgage, then we'll talk.)

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    1. I did buy a book on running a plant nursery many, many years ago...For a nanosecond, after finding notice of the sale listing, I entertained the fantasy of buying Sperling but quickly acknowledged that I couldn't afford to buy one acre in Calabasas, much less close to 11. I don't think my husband would be remotely sympathetic to the proposal that we leverage all our assets and solicit investors either. (He can be a buzz kill.)

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  2. I say "Wow!", too. So many ways to use the plants we normally see in 1-gal. black plastic pots: Duranta as a small tree, kalanchoe and cotyledon in the ground as specimens or ground covers, graceful Russelia as an edging. And such color; who could resist those grevilleas?

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    1. So few nurseries invest in demonstration gardens but I think Seaside's strategy is smart - the view of these plants in a (semi) natural setting really brings home their potential.

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  3. What a cheery sight on this oppressively grey and dank English day.

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    1. Living in coastal southern California certainly does have it's advantages, Jessica, despite the drought, regular threat of wildfires, and nasty raccoons.

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  4. The more I see of Banksia flowers the more I want one. They are so unusual. Here it would have to winter over in the greenhouse, which is already too crowded.

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    1. It's too bad my picture of the entire shrub didn't turn out well, Alison. It was covered with flowers like the one I showed in close-up, all standing erect, rather like fat candles carefully spaced within the tree-like shrub.

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  5. That' s it. I' m going to have to move out there. Gardeners in the Northern hemisphere should have special dispensation from winter. I don' t want to sit by the fire reading gardening books for weeks. I want to be outside planting succulents and Grevillea. Who would have thought there were so many Grevillea? I want to come nursery visiting with you and we could urge each other on to even greater extravagance. What fun you must have had. You have fantastic nurseries to visit.

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    1. Our winter weather is why so many people move here every year after watching the annual rose parade on New Year's Day. You have to remember that summer can be somewhat miserable. What we should do, Chloris, is house-share - I could come live with you in the summer months and you could stay here in the winter months.

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  6. Oh. If I'd seen that photo of Duranta repens pruned as a tree before frost blackened mine I would have pruned them as trees. As 'tis, I pruned them to the ground. When they come back next spring I will remember that mid-summer they're to be trees. Left to their own devices they become huge straggling bushes that kind of weep. I never knew what to do.

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    1. I was surprised (and impressed) to see the Duranta grown as trees like that myself, Jean. At my old house, I had one just like those you described - tall and straggly. I have one of the same type in my current garden but it's in a pot so I've able to keep its growth under control.

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  7. That's too bad about Sperling's. I rarely visit anymore since we always take the 5 up north instead of the 101. I should visit soon to check out that tasty small agave table. That phyllica is stupendous, and am noting that tripsacum grass and Little Honey grevillea. Nice haul, Kris!

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    1. Since my parents passed away, I haven't spent nearly as much time in the SF Valley, although my brother and 2 close friends live out there. However, whenever I visit anyone, I make a point of dropping by Sperling. They always have something I "have" to have and their supply of succulents gets better all the time. I have the bad feeling any sale is likely to go the way things did with Begonia Farms.

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  8. Another great Santa Barbara treat is the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - they have beautiful California native plants for sale in a gorgeous setting! Check it out next time you head up there.

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    1. I've visited the SB Botanic Garden several times, Susan, and plan to do so again. It's a great garden.

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  9. Fabulous Kris! Beautiful sight on a grey autumn day! You do have large borders to fill though so being a shopaholic is a very good thing at the moment :) I think the palm may be Brahea armata and its a beauty indeed!

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    1. Yes, after staring at my new area for awhile late this afternoon, I decided I need a lot more shopping trips like that one (although it might help to flesh out my planting plan first). Thanks for the palm ID!

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  10. I can only imagine the temptations you must have living in a climate that supports so many beautiful plants. I think I would be a plant shopaholic too. There are worse things in life. Happy Thanksgiving.

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    1. Having year-round gardening opportunities can be a terrible burden, Jenny ;)

      Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

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  11. 35 plants!!? Oh my, I am jealous, amazed and proud of you all at the same time. I did notice that on the small sized agave table there were a few of our local Little Prince of Oregon labels, that's pretty cool!

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    1. Well, some were small...One of the Agaves I brought home was from Little Prince of Oregon - an A. parryi 'cream delight.'

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  12. You are lucky to have such well-stocked nurseries near you. I, as you are aware, am becoming more interested in succulents but there is nowhere to buy them locally, although I do remember a friend taking me to see a collector who also sold some plants not far away; but as it was before I was interested I don't remember where it is. That table in your last image full of lovely silvery plants looks very tempting! Good planting!

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    1. Just think, Christina, if you get some succulents started, with cuttings and pups, you could soon corner the local market!

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  13. I was at Seaside myself on the way home from Cambria. Amazing how the display garden has grown. I visited after it had first been installed when everything was 6" tall. As I remember I think they planted everything from 1 gallons or smaller. Or so it seemed.

    Looking forward to seeing what you bought there, as the next best thing to plant shopping is seeing other people's plant shopping.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Kris!

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    1. I only became acquainted with Seaside a few years ago and the demonstration garden was already fairly mature - or looked it to my eyes anyway. It must be impressive to see it grown from infancy as you did. I hope my new front garden takes off like Seaside's!

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  14. You say plant shopaholic like that is a BAD thing....

    It is a shame about Sperling's - I hope somebody smart will spot the opportunity it represents to gently lead your area into more water wise plants and plantings.

    And - I had to laugh when you spoke of having your husband craft you some wooden deer of your own. I have a grapevine "deer" to put out for the holidays but as I've also got the live nasties out nibbling my plants all year round, that reality yanks some of the "festive" feeling out of using crafted ones for display.

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    1. Well, you notice I have no plans to decorate my yard with wood or grapevine raccoons! Deer are exotic animals in this area - I guess they don't get along with coyotes.

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  15. The Seaside nursery has a wonderful garden. The Brahea armata palm is gorgeous and if my less hardy Bismarck palm goes I might replace it with that one.

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  16. Seaside Gardens has really nice gardens! So many beautiful plants. I am especially taken with the Bismarckia and Duranta.

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