Readers have questions.…

Hang­ing gourds photo per­mis­sion of Organ​ic​green​roots​.word​press​.com

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​.arm​strong​gar​den​.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 68 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!




Q and A Debut on Socal​nurs​ery​plants​.com

A con­tainer pho­tographed on my recent trip to Michigan

I get many ques­tions by phone and email for Socal​nurs​ery​plants​.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:

Hello Susan,

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.

Thank you in advance for your time,

What makes a destination nursery?

A mossy fountain at Laguna Nursery

A mossy foun­tain at Laguna Nursery

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 Socal​nurs​ery​plants​.com. For more infor­ma­tion on each nurs­ery, go to the cat­e­gory for that nursery.

Botanical Partners, home of Bamboo Headquarters

Bamboo Headquarters

Bam­boo Headquarters

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.


Bamboo harvest at bamboo heaquarters

Bam­boo pole har­vest at Bam­boo Headquarters

State of the Website Address

Birdhouses at Mission Hills Nursery, San Diego

Bird­houses at Mis­sion Hills Nurs­ery, San Diego

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 Socal​nurs​ery​plants​.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​.proven​win​ners​.com, www​.mon​rovia​.com, www​.burkard​nurs​eries​.com, www​.sgnurs​erynews​.com, www​.greenar​rownurs​eries​.com, www​.sper​lingnurs​ery​.com, and www​.arm​strong​gar​den​.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.

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