And I’m hoping you have the answers:
- From Paul: Where can I find the best selection of fuchsias in the L.A. area?
From Susan: I called the South Coast Fuchsia Society and found out the best time to buy fuchsias is in the Spring. They recommend Armstrong Garden Centers , a chain of nurseries in Southern California, for fuchsias (www.armstronggarden.com).
- From Mario (This is an interesting one): I have a 47 ft single outrigger sailing canoe which I am refurbishing. I am looking for black bamboo in the 6 – 8 inch diameter size for use as mast and booms. Any leads for such resource in the San Diego county area? Thanks.
From Susan: my first call would be to Ralph Evans of Botanical Partners/Bamboo Headquarters under San Diego Nurseries on my website.
- From Dana: does anybody know who sells California native and herbal plants? I am a student of the planetary herbology and would like to find those plants and basically plant them in my garden.
From Susan: You can try Theodore Payne Native Plants /Sun Valley under Los Angeles Nurseries on my website.
- From Patrick: I like to buy some dragon plant at a nursery near San Diego — I am willing to drive. Thank you.
Any answers would be so appreciated — just go to comments at the bottom of this page, type your answers, and I will transfer them to this page!
I get many questions by phone and email for Socalnurseryplants.com. Many people from foreign countries want to know where they can get seeds for exotic plants (I’m no help there!). Others have practical concerns and can be referred to experts on bamboo, succulents and the like. Then there are questions like Sarah’s below, which is quite specific. I’m hoping my wonderful readers, gardeners and nursery professionals alike will be able to participate in my new Q and A feature:
I’m a graduate student at UC Irvine, and I’m seeking some advice on nurseries and plants in general. I live on campus and have an unenclosed patio space. I want to keep my neighbors off my patio for privacy reasons (since we are not allowed to put up fences), and I would like to get some plants to block my neighbors from coming into my space, as well. I have been considering getting some reasonably sized cacti, but I know that this would not give me all the privacy I want (since my plants have to be potted and wouldn’t get that large). My patio is 10 feet by 3 feet. Do you have any plant recommendations that would cover that space, provide privacy and help prevent people from coming onto a patio, be able to be potted, and are reasonably priced? I know that is probably a tall order to fill, but if you had any ideas of what to buy and where I could buy it, I’d sincerely appreciate it.
This is a difficult post to write because most nurseries are special in some way. Every community needs and deserves a generalized “garden center” for obvious reasons (especially since Target has closed all of theirs — yea!). So I’m not necessarily talking about service, selection or price. With destination nurseries something more indefinable is usually in play, starting with the passion of the owner. Most of the nursery men and women I’ve met love what they do — which is lucky for us in this harsh economic climate. But it is much harder to specialize because it cuts down on clientele. So, need Australian plants? Go to Jo O’Connell’s Australian Native Plants Nursery in Ojai. Jo provides Australian plants to the Huntington Botanical Gardens, among many others. Want your roses grown locally and acclimatized — Otto and Sons in Fillmore has an enormous selection. How about a custom topiary spelling out your name? Get it at Eden Nursery in Orange County. Two nurseries that specialize in jaw dropping fountains, planter arrangements, orchids, garden furniture and accessories: Laguna Nursery in Orange County and Rolling Greens Nursery in Culver City. Upland Nursery in Orange County has 350 varieties of plumeria. Does your spouse want to see a phenomenal car collection while you shop for petunias? The only place for that is Simpson’S Garden Nursery in San Diego County. Also in San Diego County: Botanical Partners with every bamboo imaginable, and Jungle Music for collector’s palms. The owners of these nurseries (Ralph Evans and Phil Bergman, respectively) will give you help in deciding what will do best in your garden — they want you to succeed and come back for more. Of course, that is true of all nurseries, large and small, general or specialized.
I have a “Destination Nursery” listing at the bottom of my categories on Socalnurseryplants.com. For more information on each nursery, go to the category for that nursery.
Ralph Evans, owner of Botanical Partners, and I had been playing telephone tag for weeks. Finally I was able to meet him for a tour of his Vista, CA growing grounds and nursery recently. Boy, was it worth the wait! In addition to the wonderful 4 acre property we toured on Majella Road, he has over 38 more acres in North San Diego County. Ralph has been in the landscaping/nursery business for over 45 years and he is passionate about his work, especially bamboo. One misconception about bamboo he aims to clear up: all varieties of bamboo will not overrun your gardens, only “runners”. There are also “clumpers”, without an invasive bone in their, well, bodies. He can show you over 270 varieties of bamboo, and will want to know where you will be planting and how tall you want your bamboo to get: anywhere from 1′ to 50′! Botanical Partners also carries many unusual palms, Australians, succulents, cacti and speciman plants. They sell mail order and on the Internet. Bamboo poles are available (see below). Last but not least, Ralph can tell you how to harvest edible bamboo shoots, though it sounds like a lot of work to me.
I’m going to try to time my updates on my website to the President’s State of the Union Address every year because it adds gravitas. Not that this is such a serious endeavor; it’s a lot of fun, and the best idea I’ve ever had. Since Socalnurseryplants.com went active last September I have visited and/or researched over 100 nurseries. Soon Orange County and San Diego city and county will be online. I’ve also decided to add the Santa Barbara area since visiting nurseries is my passion (technically SB may be Central, not Southern, California). There is also the thrill of discovery: every once in awhile I’ll be tooling down the road and discover a nursery I can add to my website that wasn’t on any of the data bases I’ve researched. It’s also fun to answer the queries that come in, including where to buy a certain kind of persimmon tree in Orange County and a good source for procuring 24 Bay Laurel trees.
I’m also discovering the nursery business is a vibrant and professional industry. Just visit the following websites for inspiration: www.provenwinners.com, www.monrovia.com, www.burkardnurseries.com, www.sgnurserynews.com, www.greenarrownurseries.com, www.sperlingnursery.com, and www.armstronggarden.com. All are informative and give seasonal and design advice. There are nursery men and women who are passionate about bamboo, orchids, cacti, succulents, topiaries, roses, palms, bonsais, California natives, plumeria, tropicals and more. Some Southern California nurseries are 60 to 100 years old (Mission Hills Nursery in San Diego). And don’t think of nurseries solely in terms of “planting your patch”. They are great places to go for an unusual gift (many have gift shops) or an inspirational stroll on a sunny day.