While the Sacramento metro area is home to 2.2 million people (#26 in the nation for population), the opening of a new nursery is not a common event. In fact, the trend over the last 10 years has been going in the other direction, with several cherished nurseries closing during the Great Recession (Capital Nursery being the most prominent).
The first sign of a turnaround came in February 2012 when family-owned Green Acres Nursery & Supply opened its third location in Folsom in what used to be a Circuit City electronics store. At the time it was billed as the largest retail nursery in the Central Valley.
In March 2015, Green Acres took another step toward domination of the Sacramento area nursery market by opening its fourth location, this one in Elk Grove in southern Sacramento County. This is the first store Green Acres built from the ground up; the other three stores were converted.
I wasn’t able to go to the grand opening on March 21, but I finally made a trip last week to see how the Elk Grove store compares to the others. In a nutshell: It’s fantastic. How could it not be, considering that everything is brand-new, from the buildings to the shopping carts and the store fixtures. The inside even has a “new building” smell, much like a new automobile has that “new car” smell.
But what makes and breaks a nursery are the plants they sell. I took a lot of photos to show you what they carry so you can decide for yourself.
Green Acres Nursery & Supply, 9220 E Stockton Blvd, Elk Grove, CA 95624
I typically don’t spend much time in the container/accessory section, but these sneaker planters caught my eye
I still don’t know whether I love them or hate them
But they certainly look well made!
I love walking through a large nursery that sells everything from vegetables to succulents
Why must ornamental bananas be so beautiful? I constantly remind myself that they are the antithesis of water-wise, otherwise I’d bring one home.
The name of the game at this time of year…
I can’t blame people for wanting to fill their yard with flowers, but I’m not sure that all of the plants you see in the photos above are a good choice in light of the drought. Gerbera daisies are probably OK.
Arctotis handle heat well and don’t need much water once established. They make great companion plants for succulents.
Begonia ‘Fancy’ adds tropical texture to a shady spot. Not exactly drought-tolerant, but one of those luxury plants you can toss extra water from rinsing the dishes onto to keep them going.
× Fatshedera lizei ‘Angyo Star’ is a great choice for dry shade. I have three fatshederas in our backyard. × Fatshedera lizei is an intergeneric hybrid between Fatsia japonica 'Moserii' and Hedera helix, the English ivy. Would prefer regular watering but in my experience can get by with surprisingly little.
Dymondia margaretae, the “it” plant du jour. There’s so much demand for it as a lawn substitute and all-purpose groundcover that it’s virtually impossible to find in flats. Green Acres is one of the few nurseries in our area that carries it, albeit only in 6-cell pony packs.
Sempervivums don’t thrive in the Sacramento Valley. They simply can’t deal with our summer heat and they’re very prone to mealy bug infestations. I threw out my last sempervivum a few years ago and haven’t looked back. I wasn’t even tempted by the large selection at Green Acres.
This is much better: agaves in 4-inch pots
Agave bovicornuta ‘Reggae Time’
These larger agaves were priced at $8.95, I believe
An interesting take on the strawberry pot
Quite a large selection of smaller succulents
These were on sale
4 for $10
Wonderful texture and foliage color
Who doesn’t like Spanish lavender?
Green Acres carries quite a few grevilleas, my favorite group of shrubs from Australia. This is Grevillea ‘Scarlet Sprite’…
… and this is Grevillea ‘Lava Cascade’. There were seven or eight more varieties.
Barberry varieties (Berberis thunbergii) for a pop of color
Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra)
Now we’re in the outdoor succulent area. I was pleasantly surprised by the large selection of agaves in sizes from #1 to #15. #1 plants were $8.50, #2 $22.50 and up, #15 $75.00.
LEFT: Agave ‘Cornelius’ RIGHT: Agave americana ‘Mediopicta alba’ BACK: Agave bovicornuta
Agave montana, one of my favorite agaves. Folks, these are great in the ground. Get yourselves one or two!
Agave colorata, another fantastic agave for landscaping
Agave × leopoldii
Agave ‘Blue Emperor’, another hybrid between Agave macroacantha and Agave victoriae-reginae (similar to ‘Royal Spine’, ‘Little Shark’ and ‘Green Steel’)
Agave ‘Blue Emperor’ with odd leaf blemishes. I’m hesitant to say this, but it could be mite damage although I’m no expert in this area. Fortunately, I only saw this type of disfigurement on ‘Blue Emperor’; none of the other agaves had it.
Agave gentryi ‘Jaws’
Agave guiengola ‘Platinum’
Agave guiengola ‘Platinum’. Beautiful but a questionable choice for the Sacramento Valley, considering that Agave guiengola is fairly tender and scars easily below 28°F.
Impressive Agave ‘Cornelius’ in #15 cans
Agaves in #15 cans
Agave bovicornuta in #15 can
Opuntia santa-rita ‘Tubac’ in #3 can
I don’t know how Opuntia santa-rita ‘Tubac’ differs from the regular Opuntia santa-rita, but the new pads had a stunning purple hue
If palm trees are your thing, Green Acres is happy to oblige. These are queen palms (Syagrus romanzoffiana).
Overall impression of the new Elk Grove location: While I could decry the amount of space still dedicated to thirsty annuals and perennials, the reality in our drought-plagued times is such that nurseries walk a fine line between giving customers what they’re used to and have always purchased and introducing them to other options that might be more appropriate for the new normal. A nursery could carry the most impressive selection of water-wise plants and yet go under very quickly if nobody buys them. All I can say is that I’m glad I’m not a nursery buyer who is confronted with these kinds of decisions on a regular basis.
My haul was small—or selective, as I prefer to call it:
Agave victoria-reginae: These Monrovia plants in #3 cans were very nice. I picked the one with the best white markings. I have five or six already, but they’re significantly smaller than this new addition. Since this is one of the slowest-growing agave species, it pays to fork out a little extra $$ for a larger specimen.
Agave × leopoldii: Said to be a garden hybrid between Agave filifera and Agave schidigera, this is one of the smaller agaves (less than 1 ft. in height and width) and hence perfect for long-term container cultivation. I couldn’t possibly pass it up at $3.95.
Arctotis ‘Wine’: I’m beginning to pay more attention to African daisies (especially Gazania, Osteospermum and Arctotis) because of their impressive heat tolerance and ability to get by with little water. Plus, they flower continuously from spring to fall, especially if deadheaded regularly. I was immediately drawn to Arctotis ‘Wine’. I don’t even know what to call the color; I imagine it’s what you get if you pour some shiraz into a glass of pink lemonade. I bought two of these and have already planted them in the front yard in the strip next to the sidewalk.
6-pack of sweet hot peppers: We’ve decided not to plant a vegetable garden this year because of the drought, but I love growing my own hot peppers so I couldn’t resist. As luck would have it, I must have picked the one 6-pack that wasn’t labeled, but this pepper was described as sweet and mildly hot.
On a different note, the photos in this post were taken with my wife’s new camera, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50 (TZ70 in the UK). It’s so small and pocketable compared to my Canon DSLR, and I thoroughly enjoyed using it. The initial reviews have been very positive. If you’re looking for a great all-round camera in the compact zoom class, I can highly recommend it.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50 (TZ70 in the UK)