Monday, March 5, 2012

Grand opening of largest nursery in Central Valley

On Saturday I blogged about the closure of Flora Tropicana, the largest water-garden nursery in California. In an ironic twist of fate, the day Flora Tropicana closed another Sacramento area nursery held its grand opening.

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The 3-acre Folsom location of Green Acres, the nursery I wrote about a couple of months ago, is supposed to be the largest retail nursery in the Central Valley. This is a locally owned, family-run business and I’m excited that the market in the Sacramento Valley, which has sustained tremendous economic damage from the collapse of the housing bubble, has improved enough to support a brand new nursery of this size. What’s even better, the space Green Acres took over used to be a Circuit City mega store which closed after less than a year in business. From electronics/appliance store to nursery, that’s what I call a great story!

When I arrived at noon, the huge parking lot was filled to capacity and people were parking along the street. The air was festive and everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves. Yes, lots of lookie loos, but also lots of people buying stuff. The employee-to-customer ratio was higher than at any nursery I have ever visited, and even though that might be a temporary phenomenon, it made sure that questions were answered quickly and people directed efficiently to whatever they were looking for.

The 30,000 sq. ft. main building, i.e. the former Circuit Store, is filled with landscaping and gardening supplies, pottery and outdoor living products; the checkout line has 14 registers. Outside there are 38,500 sq. ft. of covered shade area and greenhouse space and probably another 25,000 sq. ft. of uncovered space. It is certainly the largest nursery I’ve ever been to.

The selection of plants was impressive, especially shrubs and citrus trees. To my disappointment they hadn’t gotten any avocado trees in yet (two more weeks, I was told).  Unfortunately, the lighting was very harsh so most of the photos I took in the covered areas didn’t turn out very well due to the mottled light streaming in through the lattices overhead. But here are some plants that caught my eye:

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Pieris japonica
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Pieris japonica in a half barrel
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Rhododendron ‘PJM’
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Camellia japonica ‘Tom Knudsen’
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Grevillea lavandulacea ‘Penola’
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Grevillea lanigera ‘Coastal Gem’
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Grevillea ‘Fanfare’, a prostrate groundcover grevillea
                                                                                                                                  
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LEFT: Alpinia formosana ‘Variegata’, a variegated ginger I’d never seen before.
RIGHT: Farfugium japonicum ‘Argenteum’, one of my favorite shade plants. I spotted a large specimen in Santa Cruz last fall.
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Sago palms (Cycas revoluta) in various sizes but no other cycads
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Impressive specimens of a fruitless olive cultivar called ‘Swan Hill’ (Olea europaea ‘Swan Hill’). These would be perfect for a classic Mediterranean garden. Any faux Tuscan villa needs a few! Not cheap at $500 each.
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I had to chuckle when I saw these elephant ears wrapped in yellow Caution tape. I never knew they were so dangerous!!

In the greenhouse, there was color everywhere. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many annuals in one place. And from what I observed, quite a few customers fell under the spell of these gaudily colored beauties and hauled them off en masse.

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Primulas galore!
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More annuals
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And even a few flowering perennials like columbines
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Flats of annuals waiting in the wings
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I’ve never seen this coloration in a calla lily before

Green Acres’ selection of vegetables was impressive as well. I meant to take a closer look but got sidetracked by the succulents—gasp!—and didn’t go back.

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Artichokes (edible), Jerusalem sage (not edible), both in the vegetable section

My first reaction to the succulent section was disappointment because I had hoped it would be bigger. But when I started to take a closer look, I realized that there are lots of plants crammed into the space. The selection of 2-inch pots is similar to what you find in a big box store, but these plants looked perfect—something frequently not the case at Home Depot or Lowes.

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A sea of succulents in 2- and 3-inch pots
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They do look enticing, don’t they?
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Sempervivums, one group of succulents that abhors our summer heat
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Groundcover sedums
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Nice to see more unusual aloe cultivars
                                                                                                                                          
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Echeverias of many colors and textures
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Echeveria subrigida. I couldn’t resist and bought one.

It took me a while to find the landscaping succulents—appropriately, they are outside in the full sun—and the selection here really was dismal. In the next photo, you can see 75% of what they had. Nice specimens, but not a big selection. I realize it’s only the beginning of March and they might add more plants over the months to come. I sure hope so because with water rates on the rise in our area, there is an increasing interest in xeric landscaping.

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Agaves and yuccas in 5-gallon containers

As small as this section was, I did find my favorite plant right here: A variegated Agave attenuata cultivar called ‘Ray of Light’ from Monrovia. Priced at $40 for a 5-gallon plant it was not cheap. Agave attenuata just doesn’t do well in our garden so I decided to skip it. But if I ever see a 1-gallon plant for $10, I will give it a try.

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Agave attenuata ‘Ray of Light’

While Agave attenuata ‘Ray of Light’ was my favorite plant, the most “interesting” (substitute any adjective you prefer) sight was this:

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Spartan juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Spartan') pruned to resemble a saguaro

Just when I thought I had seen it all!

6 comments:

  1. Interesting, but my first thought was "that seems unsustainable large". To me that says higher overhead, which means higher prices. You'll have to let us know how it is after things calm down.

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    1. I wish them all the best. I love their Sacramento location, which is where I normally go, and I really want them to succeed in Folsom as well. That area is pretty upscale demographically so they should do well. And while some specimen plants are expensive, their prices for the sizes most people buy (1 gallon and smaller) are in line with what you'd pay at a Home Depot--but at Green Acres you get a much bigger selection and knowledgeable help from people who know that they're talking about.

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  2. Oh thank god...I thought you were going to say there were no Agaves! Speaking of...what is the amazingly sculptural blue Agave in your picture, do you know?

    Glad to read you liked the Pieris, the really are fine shrubs which tend to get a bad rap.

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    1. Why does pieris have a bad rap??

      Not enough agaves...and yuccas and dasylirions etc. I'm hoping that will change as we get closer to summer.

      The blue agave is Agave weberi. The variegated one next to it is Agave americana 'Marginata'.

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  3. As you've said it's an inverse to your previous post, and perfect timing for an opening of a garden centre/nursery as it's spring. No wonder the mood was jolly and festive! Let's all hope that the business will be successful and solid and there to stay for a very long time :)

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