Friday, February 12, 2016

12/30/15: Mesquite Valley Growers, Tucson, AZ

When I asked a friend in Tucson what the best full-service nurseries are in town, he didn’t hesitate: Mesquite Valley Growers and Civano Nursery.

I checked them out on my recent trip, and I’m happy to report that I liked both. Actually, I didn’t just like Mesquite Valley Growers, I loved it. And I’ll show you why.

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The first thing I saw as I was approaching Mesquite Valley Growers were the planting beds along Speedway Boulevard. They separate the parking lot (and nursery beyond) from the busy road.

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There’s a lot to love here.

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If this had been, say, a hotel or shopping center, I would have spent more time looking at these plantings. But the nursery was calling…

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Golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) in a bed of candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphilitica)

I forgot to take a photo of the nursery entrance because I was distracted (in a good way) by this sign:

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One of the funniest signs I’ve ever seen in a nursery

I was at Mesquite Valley Growers the week after Christmas, and the nursery was still in full holiday mode. But this arrangement, made from a branch of mesquite tree that had come down at the nursery, would look good year round. The cyclamens were an unusual touch.

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Hoe, hoe, hoe: This nursery has a sense of humor—plus some mighty big tools.

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The nursery is huge, 22 acres according to this January 2016 profile. Unlike other retail nurseries that buy their plants from wholesalers, Mesquite Valley grows much of their own stock (hence the word “Growers” in the nursery name).

In addition to plants, there is a large variety of pottery, statuary, garden art, garden furniture, gift items, etc. etc. If I had wanted to look at everything they carry, I would have needed several hours.

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As it was, I quickly walked through the shrubs, trees and perennials towards my main destination: the succulent section.

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Agave bovicornuta trimmed for the holidays

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The first of many cholla skeletons I would see

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‘Desert Museum’ palo verde—for sale in every Arizona nursery I visited but still elusive here in the Sacramento Valley

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This is the kind of information I appreciate in a full-service nursery

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Did I tell you this nursery has a great sense of humor?

The succulents section was as impressive as I had expected to be, with plants ranging in size from 3-inch pots to 36-inch boxes.

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The prices were impressive as well:

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$300 for this Agave havardiana in a 24-inch box. That may seem shocking at first (and as a cheapskate I would never want to pay that much), but I think it’s actually quite fair considering how many years it takes for an agave to get to this size.

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Yucca rostrata in a 24-inch box

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Take a deep breath before you look at the price tag

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Ocotillos galore…

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…in all sizes

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Agave parryi var. truncata

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Agaves, agaves, agaves

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More agaves

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And even more agaves

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Saguaro skeleton (back) and cholla skeleton (front). Some day I’ll drive to Arizona in a van and bring back a saguaro skeleton like that.

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Columnar cacti

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I loved these “I won’t freeze” signs. I saw them all over the nursery. Tucson does get frost at the height of winter. Learning from previous experience, I actually brought an ice scraper this time and used it on both mornings I was in Tucson.

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More Yucca rostrata

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More golden barrels and saguaro skeletons

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An interesting way to plant a golden barrel cactus

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Aren’t you tempted to load up your shopping cart?

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Miniature version of the slipper plant (Pedilanthus macrocapus ‘Compactus’)

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I actually bought one last year under a different name: Pedilanthus cymbifera

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Taxonomically speaking, all these names are invalid since the genus Pedilanthus has been subsumed under the much larger genus Euphorbia. Pedilanthus macrocarpus is now Euphorbia lomelii. Go figure.

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I may be a Grinch when it comes to Christmas decorations, but I thought these Santa hats looked mighty stylish on these cacti

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Another cholla skeleton!

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Some day I’ll have my own totem pole cactus (Lophocereus schottii forma mostruosa)

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Yes, they do have to water their potted succulents in the winter

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1 gallon cacti

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Metal agave torch

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I’d never seen a Santa cowboy hat before!

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View of the succulents section

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Smaller succulents and Talavera pottery

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I loved (LOVED!) this face statue. Why? I have no idea!

If you’re ever in Tucson and only have time to visit one nursery….well, I would want you to see Greg Starr. But if you’re on the eastern side of town, swing by Mesquite Valley Growers. And have your credit card handy!

6 comments:

  1. Excellent! The next time I'm in Tucson...

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  2. I love nurseries and garden centers with a sense of humor!

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  3. I love seeing places like this -- surely I'll be visiting sometime in the next few years. The pull of the desert is getting too strong! Is everybody planting those palo verde trees now? In a decade will they be the "boring" trees that everybody has?

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  4. You found excellent places in Tucson. Now I have several new places to visit if we get to go back there.

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  5. Wonderful! This is the kind of place I would have to visit with a big car to take all my treasures home.

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  6. You all may be interested in our Cactus Club's website: http://tucsoncactus.org. If you are in Tucson, we meet the 1st Thursday of each month. Also have a Facebook page (search for TCSS).

    Enjoy the desert!

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