Monday, September 15, 2014

A Unique Nursery Nestled Under a Huge Tree



Have you every thought of a nursery of more than just a place to buy plants?

How about one with secret corners where visitors are invited to sit and eat their lunch or read a book?

Or have you visited a nursery that is nestled underneath a 50 year old, flowering tree that shades everything below?


On a recent visit to California, I came upon a most unique plant nursery.

I hadn't planned on visiting a nursery on this particular day, but I noticed a large floss silk tree (Chorisia speciosa) dominating the blue skyline with its dark pink flowers.  It took me a moment to notice the nursery tucked underneath the branches.


The gate leading into the nursery, had decorative wooden signs describing what was yet to be discovered within.



I was greeted by a large jade plant, which if you've ever traveled to California, must be the 'unofficial' succulent plant of this beautiful state - everyone seems to have one growing in a pot somewhere in their garden.



Walking a little ways in, I immediately noticed a small pathway leading into the depths of the nursery, beckoning the visitor to discover where it led.



Flanking the shady path were a variety of tropical plants, succulents and garden ornaments.



A galvanized container held a variety of wooden garden signs. 

 I decided to take the signs literally and to be on the lookout for gnomes ;-)


Reaching the end of the pathway, visitors discover worn, yet comfortable garden furniture, inviting you to take a break and enjoy the shade on a warm summer's day while being surrounded by the beauty of the plants.


Throughout the entire nursery were hidden corners filled with chairs and comfortable cushions.  

Visitors are encouraged to bring their lunch and eat in the garden or bring along a favorite book.

If I lived near this nursery, I would be tempted to spend a lot of time here where I would be able to enjoy two of my favorite things - plants and books!


The branches of the floss silk tree extended their shade over a large number of plants.


Floss silk trees have a very unique trunk.  It is green, much like the palo verde, but they have very large thorns.


As I continued my journey of discovery through the nursery, I found that it was hard to reconcile this place as your typical nursery.

Oh, they did have basic gardening supplies such as organic fertilizers, peat moss, compost and pots - but it was the lack of obvious organization and the randomness that I found throughout.


Small garden rooms were filled with an assortment of succulents, palms and unusual flowering plants.

White icicle lights were strung throughout the nursery, which made me wish that I had a chance to visit in the evening hours.

Plants could be found in a variety of sizes.  There was no plant signage or pricing information that could be easily seen.



Everywhere you would turn, there would be something new and unexpected to discover.



A row of old cowboy boots sat, ready to be used as planters.



A container made from grape vines in the shape of a swan held a variety of succulents.



A pair of rusty enamelware bowls sat empty on a plastic crate - maybe they will be filled with some succulents someday?  Hopefully sooner than later before the bottom rusts out.

While enjoying the unusual things throughout out the nursery, there were some more traditional areas with flowering plants available for sale.




Colorful begonias and fucshia plants beckoned California gardeners.



I found a corner filled with adeniums, which I must admit that I am fascinated by.



I just love this delicate, pink adenium flower, don't you?


I must admit that there were so many different things that I loved about this little nursery - it's lack of organization, the fact that it looked more like a garden than a nursery, the hidden seating areas where you could read a book, the unique garden art (junk) and perhaps most of all was that the focus was on enjoying your visit to the nursery whether you bought anything or not.



The roof of the little garden shop was decorated by a row of potted Yucca gloriosa and more icicle lights.  



As I got ready to leave, I took a few minutes to talk to the woman who worked there.  She directed my attention toward the flowering canopy of the floss silk tree and told me that 5 hummingbirds make their home in its branches.

Male hummingbirds are extremely territorial, but the tree was so large that they all are able to live in it somewhat peaceably.  I was told that each hummingbird has a specific section of the tree that belongs to them and if one oversteps his section, than there are little arguments.  




I enjoyed my visit to this 50-year old, unique plant nursery/garden and can't wait to have a chance to come again.

**If you are ever near Carpinteria, California, I encourage you to take some time to visit the Carpinteria Landscape Nursery - but, be ready for a rather unorthodox nursery experience.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Shopping for Plants California Style


Do you like to visit plant nurseries?

I do - especially when I am traveling.  It is always nice to see what plants are popular in other areas.

Last weekend, my husband and I made at trip to California to visit our daughter who is serving in the Navy.

I always enjoy visiting California - not just for its nice weather, beautiful beaches, laid back people and the scenery - although those are all things that are reason enough to visit.  The real reason that I enjoy spending time in California is that I grew up here.

I am a 4th generation, native Californian.  Those who came before me were farmers, lumbermen, a city sheriff, a truck driver who worked his way to oil company executive and a social worker (who was my dad). 

Now that my daughter is stationed in California, I now have more reasons to make the trip over.



During the course of our trip, we stopped by one of our favorite small towns, Carpinteria, which is located a few miles south of Santa Barbara.  This is a wonderful beach town that is backed up by tall mountains.

As we got out of our car with the intent of heading to our favorite cupcake place, I noticed not one, but two plant nurseries just a few yards away.  So, my husband and daughter patiently waited for me while I headed into to see what discoveries I could find.


I had not brought my nice camera on our trip, so I had to rely on my iPhone camera, which did a pretty good job, except that I tend to take a lot of pictures and my battery soon died.  Luckily, my husband had his phone and I used it to take the rest of my pictures.

Believe it or not, I don't buy a lot of plants when I visit nurseries - my landscape has more than enough plants in it.  But I am always on the lookout for plants that I don't know about or are new to the market.  

Often, nurseries can serve as inspiration for your own garden with creative plant pairings as shown in the photo, above.

This particular nursery was filled with mostly flowering perennials, annuals and vegetable transplants.


I love a colorful garden and was excited to check out the flowering perennials.  I did find a new perennial introduction called 'Echibeckia', which is a cross between purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and black eyed Susan (Rudbeckia).


I saw this shrub that had been pruned into a tree.  Its brilliant purple flowers were almost blinding.  I'm not sure what it is - but it's gorgeous!

*Update - a very kind reader (Rusthawk) was kind enough to identify this plant as Tibouchina - thank you!


I love Mediterranean climates and the plants that grow well in them.  Many of these plants also grow well in the desert garden like lavender and lantana.


Like I mentioned before, I do love flowering perennials and I have both black eyed Susan and purple coneflower growing in my garden.  However, I don't have them in my regular landscape areas where it is not fertile enough and doesn't get enough water.  I plant a them among my vegetable gardens where they help to attract pollinators.


In addition to pretty perennials, I am a sucker for beautiful containers like these.  Too bad that I don't have a big enough budget to even consider buying these.  I'm still figuring out what to do with my free Tuscan planters.


Butterflies and hummingbirds were flying about, enjoying the nectar from the colorful flowers.

Butterfly Weed

If you add butterfly weed to your garden, you'll be bound to attract any butterflies nearby.


video

There were so many butterflies fluttering about that people were able to get up close to them.

A monarch butterfly was feeding on the purple blossom of a butterfly bush, seemingly ignorant of the people who stopped to admire it.  A very nice woman, standing next to me, took a video and was kind enough to share it with me - Thank you, KD!


After I tore myself away from staring at butterflies, I decided to see what else this nursery offered in addition to to flowering perennials.  My attention was immediately drawn by the variety of potted succulents.  If you like succulents - there is no better place to grow them than in California where they enjoy the Mediterranean climate with its warm, relatively frost-free temperatures.

As I was looking at the succulents, I saw a bright flash of purple and bright green off to the side.


New leaf lettuce transplants had just arrived along with potted artichokes.

While my garden is not quite ready for fall planting, I am already envisioning rows upon rows of leaf lettuce, which is my favorite vegetable to grow.



Who says that vegetable gardens can't be beautiful?  

I plant both red and green leaf lettuce varieties in my garden each year.  I like the gorgeous color contrast that also looks great in your salad bowl.



I also like these assorted kale transplants.  I didn't add any to my garden last year, but may consider doing so this year.

Have any of you grown kale?  How did it do for you?

As I slowly walked back through the nursery, I stuck my phone in my pocket and was ready to join my husband and daughter who were patiently waiting for me.

BUT, as I walked out the entrance I found myself facing another nursery.



I'll give you this glimpse of the entrance of the most unique nursery that I have ever had the opportunity to visit.

Behind its fairly unremarkable entrance, lay secret gardens filled with unusual plants that I will show you next time.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

New Perennial Discovery and a Baby

Have you ever come upon an unexpected discovery?

I did.

Last week, my husband and I flew to Southern California for a visit with our second-oldest daughter, Rachele, who is stationed at a Navy base there.

The purpose for our trip was to be there when she got her 20-week ultrasound to see what sex her baby was (more about that later).


Of course, a trip to California wasn't complete without visiting some of the places I grew up in.  We decided to take a trip up north to the small beach town of Carpinteria, which has a fun and funky downtown area.  


My family and I used to camp there every fall next to the beach and it was and still is one of my favorite places to visit.


Every time we visit Carpinteria, we have to stop by our favorite cupcake place - CrushCakes.
Can you tell that my husband is excited about our new grand baby?



My favorite cupcake is Vividly Vanilla and I have it every time we visit.  I should branch out and try the other flavors, but I have never gotten past this one ;-)

After we had eaten our cupcakes, we ventured out and past not one but two plant nurseries.  Talk about good fortune!

I am always on the lookout for new plants, unique gardening ideas as well as photographs to share with you and also in articles I write.

While I didn't have my regular camera, I did have my phone and was eager to discover what the first nursery had to see.

Butterflies were flying from flower to flower and the nursery was awash in beautifully blooming plants.


While walking through the nursery, my attention was caught by a lovely flowering perennials including Rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan) and Echinacea (purple coneflower).

Rudbeckia

Echinacea purpurea 

For those of you familiar with both of these plants - what do you think a 'baby' from these two plants would look like?

Well, wonder no more.  Let me introduce a new perennial that is garnering a lot of attention - 'Echibeckia'

Echibeckia

What do you think?

Aren't they gorgeous?


As you can see, they have golden yellow petals with orange centers.  Once the flowers begin to age, the petals turn to a darker orange.

The flowers last 2 - 3 months and make great cut flowers.  Echibeckia is hardy to zones 6 and up and would make a great addition for any perennial garden.

Echibeckia along with its parents.

I have purple coneflower and black-eyed Susan growing in my desert vegetable garden where they enjoy the fertile soil and regular water.  I may need to try Echibeckia too!

I toured through the rest of the nursery and took lots of great photos and then stopped at the nursery next door, which was very unique.  I'll share more of my nursery visits next time.

But, back to the real purpose of my visit to California.  


We came to visit our daughter and to be there when she found out whether she was having a little boy or girl.

The ultrasound technician was showing us the baby's heart, head and spine, which all looked great.  But, when he started to concentrate on the legs and arms - I was frankly, dying for him to get to the big question we all had - boy or girl???


I was expecting him to build up to the announcement or at least say, "Do you want to know what it is?"  But no - there was no build-up to his announcement.  In the middle of talking about the arms and how much the baby was moving he casually said, "By the way it's a boy."

I was looking at my daughter at that moment and she was so happy to finally know what she was having.  None of us had a preference besides a healthy baby, but it is so nice to be able to know the sex.

After the ultrasound, we drove to the nearest Target store and I helped her with deciding what items to add to her baby registry.

It never ceases to amaze me how interesting things like bottles, cribs, high chairs, mobiles and strollers suddenly become once you are expecting.

Our grandson is due in January and we couldn't be happier.  Now our granddaughter, will have a little cousin to play with :-)

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