Like a Kid in a Candy Store…

Plant Nursery
plant nursery

A horticulturist in a plant nursery is much like a kid in a candy store, which can be VERY dangerous…..

plant nursery

This is where I found myself a couple of weeks ago after spending the day walking through the beautiful gardens of “The Living Desert“.

The gardens themselves, were absolutely spectacular and I posted about the beautiful flowers and the strange and unusual plants earlier.  Well, we were on our way out after 4 hours of walking around the gardens when I saw their plant nursery.

plant nursery

Well, one look at the glazed expression on my face, caused my family to find the closest bench to sit on because they knew it would be a while before they would see me again.

Agave attenuata

Agave attenuata

I particularly love visiting nurseries that are connected to botanical gardens because you can usually find plants that are hard to find elsewhere.  

plant nursery

Unlike some of the big box stores, you will not find plants that are not suited to that particular area offered up for sale.  This is a huge pet peeve of mine which I will cover in a later post.

Coral Aloe

Coral Aloe (Aloe striata)

The quality of the plants cannot be matched anywhere else either.


 An assortment of Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea), in different sizes offered for sale. 

The nursery staff was assisting a couple of new desert residents in making their choices and were very helpful and knowledgeable.  Unfortunately, this is also not often the case in big box stores.

Angelita Daisy

Angelita Daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis)

I was quite overwhelmed at the selection that was available and I could have spent hours just looking and making choices, but my family was waiting patiently for me and so I tried my best to hurry.   

Somehow, I got out of there with only 3 plants….2 Gaura lindheimeri ‘Siskiyou Pink’ and 1 Chaparral Sage (Salvia clevelandii).  

plant nursery

It is a miracle that I came away with so few plants…..

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
27 replies
  1. Ami
    Ami says:

    I love to go to nursery store too! I know what you mean about kids in a candy store. lol. As a new gardener, I go there quite often since I had a blank canvas to draw. I learned long ago that I BETTER go alone, so that I can take my time to look and choose.

    Hope your daughter and son are recovering!

  2. Jim Groble
    Jim Groble says:

    I'll take 2 or 3 of everything because i also suffer from the same ailment. I can tell what kind of trip we're going to have by what care we take. we take the small car to our hosta mecca in central Ohio. your post brought a smile to my face. jim

  3. Meredith
    Meredith says:

    I think I'm susceptible to the same glazed look, Noelle, although I haven't near your knowledge level. This is one of the reasons I choose to get my plants only from the local nursery, where the staff will, as you point out, be knowledgeable, able to answer my questions correctly, and only sell me things which are suited to my conditions. The exception to this is buying vegetable plants and starts from the farmer's market, where locals are generally also expert in what will grow in this region and have it for sale when it's appropriate to plant.

    I was outraged to see things for sale out front of a big box store this week which will surely be dead or dying in less than six weeks when the weather warms. These cool weather annuals ought to have been planted last fall to get one's money worth. 🙁

  4. Christine
    Christine says:

    Hard as it is, I just have to stay away from plant nurseries. I go nuts, buying this that and the other thing. Then get them home and can't figure out where to plant them all. I love your photos here, Noelle. Especially the one with the overhead slats casting shadows on the plants and path below.

  5. Floridagirl
    Floridagirl says:

    Noelle, I too love those kinds of nurseries, but usually I can't afford to indulge. I do share your same pet peeve! It is unbelievable what they sell in some garden centers! And it is quite confusing to determine which plants will do well, for they do have those also.

    Love your photographs of the nursery…beautiful shadows!

  6. Meems
    Meems says:

    What a beautifully designed garden center. It looks very different from any you find in Florida and that makes it even more fun to see here on your blog. The plants are so different. Thanks for sharing the pretty photos and information.

    I hope all is well with your son and your daughter. You sure had a lot going on in a short period of time. Your family is beautiful and I wish you all the best as everyone adjusts and hopefully gets well soon.

    My 4 yr. old grandson had a cast on his leg in January and he asked the same question. They get used it pretty fast regardless and then they forget it is there. 🙂

    Enjoy your weekend.

  7. The Rainforest Gardener
    The Rainforest Gardener says:

    That is a miracle! I would have gotten a little succulent crazy, but I guess you could always return later. I agree about the big box stores, and at least in my local ones they never know what the heck they're talking about either. Many times I'll see whole shipments of gingers or shade grown palms put in the blazing sun to die!

  8. Rosie
    Rosie says:

    I could spend hours in there too – just think what its like for those folks who work in there who are keen gardeners. Gaura is beautiful but never gets through our winters here.

    I see you and me have a pet peeve too about unsuitable plants being sold – I was complaining last Friday about that and raspberries that crop early that are unsuitable for northern gardens but fine for gardens in the south of England – its a problem with central buying departments here. I think I'll have to comment as anoynmous when you do that post lol

  9. debsgarden
    debsgarden says:

    I wish i had been with you in that nursery! I promise you could have stayed till closing, and i would have been happily still looking. But my bank account would have been miserable!

  10. jodi (bloomingwriter)
    jodi (bloomingwriter) says:

    You're to be commended for getting out of there with only three plants, Noelle, though I shuddered at the gaura (it's one of those marginally hardy plants here in Nova Scotia, though it's supposed to be zone 5. I have a feeling you and I will agree wholeheartedly on the business of nurseries selling plants that aren't hardy for the zone. Bless your family for being patient and sitting down. I giggled because that happens here too.

  11. Carol
    Carol says:

    What fun! I like this kind of candy! You were very fugal Noelle… I do stay away from the big box stores and love to support places just like this one. Very Important I think. I am surprised your adorable kids were not helping you choose… or picking some of their own! LOL. Look forward to seeing how you plant your new babies. ;>)

  12. Rebecca @ In The Garden
    Rebecca @ In The Garden says:

    Great post Noelle, I am also like a kid in a candy store (but it's better for the teeth), wonderful pictures, the covered area is just lovely. Great buys, and I also hate seeing beautiful BUT NOT HARDY plants being offered for sale at box stores.

  13. camissonia
    camissonia says:

    Noelle, I'm with you on this one. Every time I'm at The Living Desert, my end all be all is to check out their Palo Verde Garden Center. My husband must always wait patiently on the sidelines as I spaz out over their amazing assortment of desert selections.

  14. Chandramouli S
    Chandramouli S says:

    I hear you, Noelle. I love visits to Nurseries and for an impulsive shopper like me, that's dangerous. Thanks for the wonderful tour, I enjoyed looking at the unusual plants. 🙂

  15. gippslandgardener
    gippslandgardener says:

    What a beautiful candy store! I would love to have local access to somewhere with knowledgeable staff and an appropriate plant range, but I think what I have instead is something like the 'Big Box' store you refer to. I either have to travel for a better selection or go armed with some research of my own – as questions will only draw a blank look!

  16. Sylvana
    Sylvana says:

    My husband would rather go plant shopping with me than clothes shopping 🙂

    in fact, he is already planning a trip to our favorite nursery that shut its doors forever – which luckily was only over the winter as they were working out a deal to sell. This nursery has all the qualities that you talked about in this post – unusual plants, knowledgeable sales people, and they even grow in display gardens what they sell, so you know it survives here!

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