Saturday, January 23, 2016

Plant Shopping in the San Fernando Valley

Last weekend, I visited a friend in the San Fernando Valley and we toured two local nurseries.  In the past, we'd have spent our time at Sperling Nursery, one of my long-time favorite plant shopping haunts but, sadly, it closed last year.  My friend introduced me to Desert Creations Nursery in Northridge, which opened last year.  (You can find a video on the nursery here.)  It's a small place, located behind a gym and nearly invisible from the street, operating out of what was clearly once a home.



The interior contains a wide range of gift and decorative items, as well as some very nice pottery designed especially to complement succulents.

Among other things, items for sale included an Opuntia-shaped lamp, tiny succulents in tiny pots, and botanical pens

The room in the back was dedicated to pottery


Small plants occupied benches in the space adjoining the pottery room but, behind the building, in what would once have been a backyard, there were larger plant specimens, including display tables with show-quality plants.

My favorite plant was this Cochemiea setispinsus, shown on the left photographed from behind highlighted by the morning sun and on the right photographed from the front

Astrophytum ornatum

Copiapoa kranziana

Coryphantha sp.

Ferocactus sp.

My second favorite: Gymnocalycium tudae

Mammillaria candida

Parodia sp.


The nursery has two sweet dogs, both rescues.

Elrey, on the left, came out to greet us wagging his tail when we arrived before settling back in his bed, and his female companion on the right followed us out to see us off


I left with two pots.

They're not yet planted but that situation won't last long


As usual, I left behind a couple of plants out of concern with the impact their purchase would have had on my pocketbook.

Boophane disticha on the left (I didn't even bother to check the price of that one) and Mammillaria pilcayensis on the right (which I was afraid to buy after having a similar specimen "melt" in last year's rain


Our second stop was Green Thumb Nursery in Canoga Park.  Part of a chain, the Canoga Park location, opened in 1946, was the first of Green Thumb's nurseries.  Although I grew up only miles away, I've probably only visited this garden center a handful of times.  (I don't come from a family of gardeners.)  On my last visit several years ago, I thought the place looked sad and tired, at least by comparison to the vibrancy of Sperling, but it's perked up since.  I understand they've hired several of Sperling's horticulturalists.

Displays near the entrance of the outside area, where driftwood (from the Pacific Northwest no less!) was heavily featured


Green Thumb carries a little bit of everything but I was particularly impressed by the quality of the succulents and the diverse selection of drought tolerant plants.

Clockwise from the upper left: a pristine selection of Agaves, Cordylines in a variety of colors, more varieties of Nandina than I've seen in one place anywhere else, a nice selection of Talavera pottery, bedding plants (also in perfect condition), and orchids tucked among statuary


I didn't leave there empty-handed either.

I found Echeveria agavoides 'Vashon', a plant I'd admired but left behind on my last plant shopping trip because it was available only in a large and very pricey pot.  Combined, the 3 plants shown at the top of the frame on the left cost me only a little more than one in the larger pot would have.  I also picked up 3 more Echeveria and 2 unidentified succulents, as well as the pretty pot shown on the right.


Although, yet again, I left behind a plant I wish I hadn't...

Rhodanthemum hosmariense 'Moondance'



All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

32 comments:

  1. Dang-that's where all our good driftwood is going! I, too, like that cactus with the coral/russet halo effect.

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    1. Given that the ocean is perhaps 20 miles away from that nursery, it seems odd that SoCal nurseries can't find local sources of driftwood but the PNW seems to have cornered the market on that commodity here.

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  2. A fun trip all around. It's also nice to see a tired garden place perk up a bit, usually it's the other way around. Good plants for your garden, I especially like those pots you chose.

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    1. I was impressed and pleased by Green Thumb's turn-around, although it still doesn't have the panache of the late, lamented Sperling Nursery.

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  3. (I have a Boophane) but my eyes are watering at the $200 price tag I saw!

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    1. Fortunately for me, some of the pots were very reasonably priced, Diana. I was a bit taken by the plant prices too. There were plants in 2-inch pots marked at $75!

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  4. More local places to check out. Thanks for sharing all these treasures!

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    1. Are you spending time out this way, Renee?

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  5. Can any of us visit a nursery without buying something, and to have a friend who shares your love of nursery shopping is the bonus. I imagine you egg each other on. I was initially staggered at the price of some of those cactus but then realized they were in ceramic pots. Still a big outlay. I am like you, a 4" will do.

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    1. My friend is much more careful with her pocketbook than I am but I was also staggered by the prices on many of Desert Creations' plants. I viewed the plant displays as showpieces rather than garden material.

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  6. Sounds like a fun day, and it's important for all of us to support local nurseries. I usually go to nurseries with a list and only allow myself one impulse purchase per trip (which keeps me from having to declare bankruptcy as a result of supporting local nurseries :-) ) -Jean

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    1. I also take lists with me when I go shopping, Jean, but I'm not as disciplined as you are about straying from my objectives. However, I do try to stay away from the jumbo-sized plant offerings, preferring to start most of my plants in the smallest pots I can find and rarely buying anything bigger than a 1-gallon pot.

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  7. That's a fascinating Mammillaria! It's great to see a new nursery has sprung up, though I confess to virtual sticker shock! Am off to google the Rhodanthemum, which looks spectacular!

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    1. I really hope I can find that Rhodanthemum (which the grower referred to by its former classification as a Chrysanthemum) closer to home.

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  8. My goodness, my eyes are still watering at those prices.
    A white Moroccan Daisy, Rhodanthemum hosmariense grows on the wall of a pub near here and it seems to be in bloom all year round. So pretty. I know that feeling of regret when you come away without something rare and lovely.

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    1. There were some reasonably priced plants at that first nursery - I just fixated on the splashy ones in the back.

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  9. Oh the plant that "got away".... It is always the one we dream about. I hope you can find another and at a reasonable price.

    And boy howdy, sticker shock abounds! However I thank you sincerely for that, I pointed those prices out to The Hub, and he agreed even my most egregious "overbuy" locally looks reasonable price-wise now (by comparison). : ) Looking forward to seeing what you plunk in those new pots!

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    1. I'm glad I could help you convince your husband of your frugality, Deb! Maybe, I need to show the photos to my husband - "see honey, here's what I didn't bring home!"

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  10. Nice place and pots!
    Best wishes Kris

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    1. Visiting plant sellers is always a good way to spend a Saturday, Mariana!

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  11. Wow, that looks like a fun day. A few of those mammillaria are so pretty. I love finding a new nursery with both plants and goodies. The large pot you bought is beautiful.

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    1. And now that I have 3 new pots, I need to go plant shopping again!

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  12. Hi Kris, you chose some lovely pots! It is always a treat to visit a good nursery. I commend you for your restraint. I have a difficult time sticking to my budget when I am tempted by plants. It is my great weakness. But then, at least I don't smoke or buy lots of shoes!

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    1. That's what I tell my husband too - I gave up my addiction to clothes shopping years ago to fund my plant addiction. And plants don't need dry cleaning either!

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  13. Those specimen plants are really expensive, wow! They cost more than a reasonable sized tree would. BTW I've sometimes found that buying a larger plant that can be divided to produce more plants immediately can be better value than buying small plants.

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    1. I do occasionally buy larger specimens to divide myself, Christina. In fact, I recently picked up 2 Dianella tasmanica that were on the pricey side and made 4 plants out of them. (They could easily have been divided further but I didn't have a need for more.) Hacking up a new plant always sends shivers down my spine though, and I wouldn't even try it with those cacti!

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  14. I've been threatening our older daughter with turning her room into an Airbnb when she heads off to college. After seeing your photos of Desert Creations Nursery, maybe I'll turn it into a garden gift shop instead, LOL.

    After seeing your photo, I have a serious case of spring fever!

    That NOID ferocactus, by the way, is Ferocactus glaucescens.

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    1. Thanks for the Ferocactus ID, Gerhard. Given that you could name the species when the nursery's owners failed to do so, I've no doubt that you could easily start your own nursery/gift shop in your daughter's room! I suppose zoning, if not also family relations, could be an issue...

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  15. Looks like you had fun, and got some pretty stuff. The first pot is particularly nice.

    There's a Green Thumb down in El Toro, we go there several times a year--good place for certain things.

    Rhodanthemum hosmariense--I've been growing that for more than 10 years (the same plant). Most excellent, excellent plant. I have the plain species, not 'Moondance'. This year I finally pulled it out, because it was looking pretty bad--but I see fresh new plantlets are coming back from the roots. Native Sons often sells it in the 4" every spring.

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    1. My friend offered to go back to Green Thumb and pick the plant to put on hold until the next time we get together but I expect it'll turn up at one of my local haunts. I know Roger's usually offers the 4-inch white varieties so, one way or another, I expect Rhodanthemum will find a home here.

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  16. Like a kid in a candy shop, right? Your post has me drooling, I can't imagine being there in person. Forget Powerball, I want to win a shopping spree at a fabulous nursery! ;-)

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    1. With one of those last Powerball wins, you could buy an entire nursery chain, Eliza! In another life, I'd have identified my passion for horticulture earlier and found a way to work in, if not own, a nursery - alas, my career path took a more mundane direction.

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