Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Terra Sol Garden Center, Santa Barbara

On our recent spring break trip to Santa Barbara I managed to squeeze in a visit to a nursery that came highly recommended: Terra Sol Garden Center. As it turned out, it was only a couple of miles from our hotel. It’s not a big nursery but the second I pulled into the parking lot, I realized that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore (or, in my case, Davis). Our nurseries just don’t have displays of bougainvillea out front!

The photos in this post show plants that are unusual or exotic in one form or another. Terra Sol also has most of the basic nursery staples—flowering annuals, plenty of veggies, bagged soil, fertilizer, etc.—but I decided to skip those.


View from the parking lot


Talavera pottery


Agave attenuata ‘Variegata’, super rare and—not surprisingly—not for sale


Agave attenuata ‘Variegata’


Agave macroacantha ‘Blue Ribbon’—another specimen that wasn’t for sale


Agave potatorum ‘Snowfall’—very nice but I have enough similar-looking agave varieties


Miscellaneous succulents—that large golden barrel in a talavera pot was a stunner!


Miscellaneous succulents


Unidentified aloe and Euphorbia leucadendron


Kalanchoe orgyalis ‘Copper Spoon’ and Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire’

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Dasylirion quadrangulatum and Yucca rostrata


Tylecodon wallichii—the large specimen wasn’t for sale, but the small ones were


Gerrardanthus macrorhizus—how many nurseries carry this particular plant? I had never even heard of the genus before, let alone the species, but since it’s similar to my first name, I will henceforth claim it as my own!


Leucospermum praecox—one of several stunning proteas from South Africa. Oh, to be able to grow those outside!


Leucospermum praecox


Leucospermum praecox


Asian section—I loved this corner of the nursery!


I wanted this face statue in the worst way!

Since we didn’t have much room in the car, I was very good and bought only one plant, a 7-gallon Beaucarnea stricta. Here is a photo after I transplanted it:


Beaucarnea stricta on our front walkway.
A Yucca rostrata of a similar size would have
set me back by an additional $100!


Santa Barbara is also home to my personal Shangri-La of nurseries, San Marcos Growers. This wholesale nurseries produces some of the most stunning plants in existence, including many rare succulents. Unfortunately, it’s not open to the public, but I’m hoping that I will eventually find a way to visit.


To access an index of all my posts about our Santa Barbara trip, including my 5-part post about Ganna Walska Lotusland, please click here.


  1. Love this nursery , I go every time I'm in SB. Wonderful photos..hope you got to Seaside Gardens in Carpenteria ? If not you better head back down !

    1. Unfortunately, Terra Sik was the only nursery I had time for. I'll put Seaside Gardens on my list for next time. Since I have a one-year Lotusland membership now, I definitely want to go back before it expires.

  2. That variegated Agave attenuata is stunning! I've never seen one as big as that one before.

    1. Ruth Bancroft Garden has one at least that size but theirs is in the ground. These were potted--and almost perfect.

  3. A lovely nursery. The variegated agave attenuatas don't tend to work as well in the UK, the light is not bright enough to get them to colour up. It's a shame as they are stunning.

    1. You could call me somewhat obsessed with Agave attenuata but they're so difficult to grow where I live. They hate our summer heat, and they hate our winters although our lows are typically just a few degrees below freezing.

  4. Ooh, that Kalanchoe orgyalis ‘Copper Spoon’ looks wonderful!

    Do people actually put plants into that Talavera pottery? It's beautiful, but would distract from any plant you put there I think.

    1. I'm trying to grow a Kalanchoe orgyalis as nice and big as their specimen. Mine is not in a hurry.

      People do put plants in talavera pottery. In fact, I just planted an Aeonium nobile in a talavera pot my wife and kids gave me last year. I think they key is to choose a plant that isn't overly frilly or complex-looking.

  5. Agave Attenuata 'kara stripes' which is hard to come by was one I lost during the last frost. We can grow Leucospermum in San Jose. It should grow well in Davis don't you think?

    1. Those attenuatas are so frost-sensitive. I brought my 'Ray of Light' inside on the coldest nights (it's still small enough). My 'Boutin Blue' stayed outside but I covered it well. Both are fine but they sure aren't growing very fast...

    2. Re: leucospermum. It's worth a try! I'll pick one up the next time I'm on the coast. Our local nurseries don't carry them.

  6. I love Terra Sol and always try to stop by when I drive down to San Marcos or am passing through. I agree about Seaside Gardens though. One of the best display gardens on the entire CA coast in my opinion.

    I know some other bloggers that aren't in the trade have been able to visit San Marcos so perhaps if you contact them ahead of time you can get permission. It really is a great place. I'm like a kid in a candy store when I shop there.