Rainy Saturday trip to Annie’s Annuals

Last Saturday started out gray and drizzly but I felt so stir-crazy I simply had to get away for a few hours. A trip to Annie’s Annuals was just what I needed. The forecast for Richmond, a little under an hour away, called for “only” a 20% chance of rain of rain so I decided to take the gamble. As it turned out, it was drizzling in Richmond, too.


When I first arrived at Annie’s, I only saw two other customers. A few more showed up later as the rain let up. What a difference from the hordes of shoppers you see on a spring weekend!

Note: I did bring my “real” camera but since it was raining I opted to use my cell phone camera instead. It’s much easier to tuck a cell phone away between shots than a bulky DSLR.


I had a shopping list, but I still wandered around as I usually do. The demonstration beds near the entrance are always a highlight. They give you the opportunity to see what mature specimens look like.

New this time was the succulent bed you see below. I have no idea why it’s inside such an elaborate “cage.” Clearly they’re having problems with critters eating the juicy plants. Rabbits? Rats? The nursery is located in a light-industrial area on the edge of town; I bet critters abound.



Dudleya brittonii


Dudleya brittonii and Senecio mandraliscae


Acacia cognata ‘Cousin Itt’, looking splendid


Acacia cognata ‘Cousin Itt’ and Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives’ (thanks for the ID, David)


More succulents—and the famous cow


Agave polycantha


Agave polycantha and Crassula ovata ‘Hobbit’

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Here is Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives’ again



I tried it several times in Davis but it never looked this spectacular—and I found it’s irresistible to mealybugs



Graptopetalum paraguayense (thanks for the ID, David)


I loved this vignette centered around a Beschorneria ‘Flamingo Glow’


Wider view towards the entrance

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Agave valenciana (guessing, since they’re selling small plants; see below)


This is vignette I want to reproduce: Eucalyptus gunnii ‘Silver Drop’ and Gomphrena globosa ‘Fireworks’

A few plants in the succulents area that caught my eye:

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Agave valenciana (left) and Crassula ovata ‘Hobbit’ (right)


Crassula alba var. parvisepala


Echeveria ‘Lady Aquarius’


Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ and Mimetes cucullatus, a very special South African shrub rarely seen in our parts

I had hoped to spend more time in the Rarities section, always a personal highlight, but the rain was starting to pick up right about then. Phylica pubescens caught my eye as I was hurrying to find shelter. It’s good to see Phylica pubescens is becoming more widely available. I recently planted a larger specimen in the front yard.


Phylica pubescens

As the rain intensified, I sought refuge in the hoop house that is home to tender plants. This gave me an opportunity to take a closer look at plants I don’t typically spend much time with.


Musa velutina brought back fond memories of my banana phase. Unfortunately bananas need a lot more water than I’m willing to spend on irrigation.


Orbea variegeta, a beautiful stapeliad. I had a large plant once but it fell pray to mealybugs (stapeliads are very prone to mealybug infestations).


Impatiens niamniamensis ‘Congo Cockatoo’. What can I say, after I saw it, I had to have it. It’ll have to spend winters inside. Let’s see how that goes.

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A few more intriguing plants. Has anybody tried Melianthus comosus? The photo (left) looks beautiful. And what about Cassia didymobotrya? I may have to try that one next year. Being a cassia, it should get by with little water.


The green version of Dudleya brittonii, sold as ‘Goblin’. Even though I haven’t had much luck with dudleyas (they don’t like our summer heat), I’ve decided to give this one a try.


Verbascum bombyciferum, another plant I’ve tried to grow before and failed


I’m not typically into garden decor/art but this caught my eye. It looked great nestled inside the branches of a Leptospermum ‘Dark Shadows’.

Here is my haul:


But before I left, I quickly checked out the plantings along the driveway. It was still raining, so I didn’t linger as long as I would otherwise have.


Euphorbia ‘Blue Haze’

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Cussonia paniculata (the small trees) and Sonchus palmensis (hard to believe it’s a dandelion relative!)


Crassula capitella ssp. thyrsiflora and Euphorbia myrsinites


Euphorbia myrsinites and Dudleya brittonii


Mystery shrub in the parking lot. It looks like an Echium but I don’t know which species.

This is what I bought at Annie’s:

  1. Serpentine columbine (Aquilegia eximia)
  2. Velvet centaurea (Centaurea gymnocarpa)
  3. Dudleya brittonii ‘Gremlin’
  4. Echeveria amoena
  5. Naked buckwheat (Eriogonum nudum ‘Ella Nelson’s Yellow’)
  6. Cider gum (Eucalyptus gunnii ‘Silver Drop’)
  7. Fuchsia ‘Old Berkeley’
  8. Alum root (Heuchera maxima)
  9. Dwarf oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Pee Wee’)
  10. Congo Cockatoo impatiens (Impatiens niamniamensis ‘Congo Cockatoo’)
  11. Palmer’s penstemon (Penstemon palmeri)


I planted half of them on Sunday so they can work on getting established while the weather is still mild. Others will live in pots until the spring, or maybe forever. Especially the impulse purchases like these two:


Fuchsia ‘Old Berkeley’. Fuchsias are tricky in Davis since they’re not very fond of our hot summers—and they don’t like our occasional frosts either. But this one, found in an old Bay Area garden, is so beautiful that I’m willing to take a chance on it.


And here is my Congo Cockatoo (Impatiens niamniamensis ‘Congo Cockatoo’). It doesn’t like the cold at all. I shouldn’t have bought it because I’m not into house plants, and yet I couldn’t not buy it. I’m sure you can relate.


  1. Cool purchases. The Impatiens is quite striking! Went for E. gunnii instead of 'Moon Lagoon'? The blue foliage would look great with that violet in the Fuchsia, too.

    Walking around in the rain was a good idea, since it sent you into the hoop house. We got a little rain overnight Sunday. It was a treat!

    1. I was thrilled to find E. gunnii 'Silver Drop' because I've ever seen 'Moon Lagoon' for sale up here. 'Silver Drop' looks similar enough. Like 'Moon Lagoon' you can cut back radically so you always have juvenile leaves.

      Combining 'Silver Drop' with the fuchsia is actually a brilliant idea. I might have a spot for the combo!

  2. How wonderful to have the nursery mostly to yourself like that! You took home a good haul. I wouldn't have cared about a little rain either. I SO wish Annie's would establish an off-shoot down south here but I guess I should just count myself lucky that a few SoCal garden centers offer a limited selection of Annie's plants. That Cassia didymobotrya grows along a slope at a neighbor's place across from my house - it blooms a good portion of the year.

    1. Annie's website and catalog are great but the nursery also sells other plants that aren't available through mailorder (probably because their availability is limited). That's what makes a visit to the nursery so exciting. You should plan a road trip in the spring and load up your car!

      Thanks for the feedback on the Cassia didymobotrya!

  3. A few corrections to id's of your photos, the Echeveria diffractens is actually Graptoveria 'Fred Ives', and your Echeveria amoeba is really Graptopetalum paraguayense. Thanks for showing a few shots of the entry landscape outside at Market Street, I haven't been back since planting it out for Annie back in September to see how it has filled in.

    1. WOW, 'Fred Ives' looks nothing like that in Davis. The coloration is totally different, probably because it's much hotter in Davis. I haven't had much luck with 'Fred Ives' either; I find it to be irresistible to mealybugs in the height of summer.

      Thank you for the ID corrections. I've made the changes above.

      I didn't know you did the street-side landscaping at Annie's. It's such an artistic representation of what the nursery sells.

  4. Well, it was a redo upon what I had also installed back in 2009/2010 I think, although much altered in the intervening years. Annie wanted to give it a bit more of a "designed" look that wouldn't need as much changing out when it was heavier on more annuals. So we did a sweep through the nursery retail and growing grounds to assemble the new entry plantings, working with certain givens and also an eye to featuring new less known taxons to utilize for propagation. I need to get back there to take some photos!

    1. Just the fact that Annie's hired you to work on their display areas is another reason why they're so special. How many retail nurseries would do that?

  5. What a fun place to spend a rainy day! I would have been tempted by that 'Congo Cockatoo' too! I'd like to find that 'Flamingo Glow' Beschorneria somewhere.

    1. Alison, Annie's has 4" seedlings of 'Flamingo Glow' for sale. I'd be happy to pick up one or several for you the next time I go!

  6. Nice haul! Funny the thought of rain keeping people away, around here that would never happen. Oh and try the Cassia didymobotrya, I only got to grow it a single season (not hardy) but it's a fabulous plant!

    1. And it wasn't even cold - mid-60s. I guess people were so startled by the rain, they didn't know what to do.

      I'll give the Cassia didymobotrya a try!

  7. We are weather wimps here in the Bay Area, threat of rain keeps a lot of us indoors for the day, me included!

  8. Wow, I hope my Sonchus palmensis grows up to look like that! Yes, nurseries with display gardens, the best of all possible worlds -- and esp. if designed by Mr. Feix!


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