Last Saturday, after attending the Ruth Bancroft Garden’s spring plant sale, I made the 35-minute drive from Walnut Creek to Richmond to check out the Spring Party at Annie’s Annuals & Perennials. I’d been to Annie’s a couple of times since last summer (1 2), but their inventory is both vast and ever-changing so I knew that I would find something new to drool over and/or take home.
Annie’s is located in a light-industrial area and the approach isn’t exactly welcoming (neither are the coils of barbed wire on top of the outside fence). But land is premium-priced in the Bay Area, and a production nursery that wants to remain competitive doesn’t have much choice when it comes to location, especially a multi-acre operation like Annie’s.
|Market Street railroad crossing. Annie’s is a few hundred yards down the road on the left.|
However, as soon as you step through the gate, you instantly forget that you’re not in the nicest part of town.
As shown in the panorama below, Annie’s is huge. And what you see in the photo is actually only about half of the nursery. There’s a large section with California natives and annuals on the left.
Annie’s has three customer parties each year: one in mid-April, one for Mother’s Day and one in the fall. There are activities ranging from face painting to costume contests, talks about gardening topics, and the ever popular raffle where the grand prize is a 15 minute shopping spree.
|Raffle on Saturday shortly before the winner of the 15-minute shopping spree was announced|
On Twitter, Annie’s just posted this photo of the loot amassed by one of the winners this past weekend:
|Plants picked out by the raffle winner in 15 minutes|
Here are some of my snapshots from last Saturday’s goings-on:
I really enjoy the electric energy generated by a crowd of enthusiastic people and I’m happy just wandering around seeing the smile on people’s faces. Gardeners really are the nicest folks, and striking up a conversation is never easier than it is at a nursery.
But ultimately I came for the plants. And this time is a great time of year. So much was in bloom. Of course I first checked out the many succulents Annie’s grows.
|Lampranthus ‘Pink Kaboom’|
Graptopetalum paraguayense ‘Pinky’
|Aeonium and Delosperma nubigenum|
LEFT: Graptopetalum paraguayense and Echinopsis species
|Crassula alba var. parvisepala, a curious spotted succulent I’d never seen before|
|Yucca baccata, one of the hardiest of all succulents (down to -20°F). Perfect for people in areas with cold winters who want to grow a great-looking yucca.|
|Aeonium nobile, one of the most sought-after and elegant of all aeoniums|
Three succulents native to California jumped out at me:
|Coreopsis gigantea. |
I’d bought a much larger specimen at the Ruth Bancroft Garden sale just that morning.
This species develops a stunning powdery coating that makes it appear almost white. Unfortunately, I killed two dudleyas last summer (as coastal dwellers, they don’t like
our valley heat).
But there was so much more to see than just succulents. Annie’s is known for its over-the-top inventory of unusual annuals and perennials. I don’t know how many different species they have, but it's got to be thousands.
|One of many display beds|
|I was very surprised to see a protea (Protea susannae) and couldn’t resist although it might be a touch too frost-sensitive for Davis. We shall see.|
|Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’|
|So many 4” containers with small seedlings, so much promise of garden bliss!|
|California natives section|
|What would a hip nursery be without pink flamingos? These are not your granny’s pink flamingos either, they’re much hotter!|
|Parrot’s bill (Clianthus puniceus), looking fantastic in a large tub. I really wanted a specimen of this New Zealand stunner but they were out. The foliage is very attractive, too. |
And it’s hardy to 13”F!
This is my loot. I would have shopped more but I was getting hungry and tired and decided to call it a day after a couple of hours.
|Loot from Annie’s. I’ll post an update in a few months when my plants have put on some growth and are in flower (knock on wood).|
I’m proud of myself because on Sunday morning I planted everything except for the Protea susannae.