Shopping Annie's Annuals' 15% off sale

It's no secret that Annie's Annuals & Perennials in Richmond, CA is one of my favorite nurseries. Now through the end of the year they're having a 15% off sale on everything in the nursery: plants, gift items, even gift certificates. Is there a better reason to visit? Granted, the best time for planting is over for the year, but what is life if you don't push the envelope a little bit?

In that spirit, I made the one-hour drive yesterday. My partner in crime was my friend Brian who volunteers at the Ruth Bancroft Garden. While it's fun shopping with somebody who is as plant-obsessed as you are, it's also dangerous because you end up pushing each other to buy even more than you had planned: "Hey, doesn't this plant look good? You should try it!" Or "This plant does really well in my garden. You need to get one, too." I apologize to Brian if I made him buy something he hadn't planned on buying!

Richmond is in zone 10a. Davis, where I live, is in zone 9b. You might think there isn't much difference, but there is. There is a big difference, actually, especially in the winter. Plants that struggle in Davis—think aeoniums, many proteas, fuchsias, etc.—sail through Richmond's virtually frost-free winters. That's why Annie's display gardens look good all year. I enjoy looking at them almost as much as I like shopping!

This is what I saw at Annie's yesterday:

Many nurseries have cats, Annie's has a friendly cow

Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' is a plant I've become obsessed with, mostly because I seem to be unable to keep it alive. And yet, look at the specimen at Annie's! It's the very definition of perfection!

Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt'

Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' and Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'

Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' and Dudleya hassei

Dudleya brittonii. I bought one in the spring and have actually been able to keep it alive!

Wider view of this bed

Echeveria colorata

Echeveria 'Imbricata'

Wider view

And even wider. I love the arctotis in the foreground (no ID).

Echeveria 'Purple Pearl'

Echeveria runyonii

LEFT: Helichrysum splendidum, available next year—I can't wait

LEFT: Eriophyllum confertiflorum 

How much more eclectic can you get! Look at the blob of what looks like moss. You'll see it again later.

Beach Primrose (Camissonia cheiranthifolia), a California native trailing groundcover. Tried it and killed it.

Graptoveria 'Fred Ives' at its very best

Beschorneria yuccoides 'Flaming Glow' with Dudleia hassei (left) and Sedum nussbaumerianum (right)

Gomphrena globosa explosion

I grow Gomphrena decumbens but need to give Gomphrena globosa a try as well!

Aloe vanbalenii

Fan aloe (Kumara plicatilis)

Dendroseris litoralis. I had never heard of this plant before. Check out this page for more photos. This is an intriguing plant, native to only one island in the southeast Pacific 400 miles off the coast of Chile. Only a few individual plants are left in the wild. It needs a cool coastal climate to thrive.

The words "50% off" are like catnip to gardeners!

Echeveria 'Imbricata' may be as common as it gets, but it never fails to wow me

Succulent goodies as far as you can see

Annie's Cotyledon orbiculata has a variety designation now, var. spuria

Demonstration plants in the succulent area

Echeveria 'Lady Aquarius'

Australian astroturf (Scleranthus biflorus). This moss-like plant is actually a member of the carnation family. Tolerates sun and heat. I may have to try it someday. Still, it would look odd to have something like this growing in the full sun among succulents. 

A plant I've heard much about over the years but had never actually laid eyes on: Mandragora officinarum, the mysterious and reputedly magical mandrake. It forms a 4-foot (!) taproot! Never one to shy away from the weird and wonderful, I was tempted to try one but it had the dreaded white tag, meaning it's expensive. I didn't immediately see a price but it turns out it was $14.95. I didn't get one, and may forever regret it.

Celosia argentea

One last look at the sea of seedlings

Here is Brian with his haul. My purchases are in the green cart of the left:

This is what I got:

Dudleya hassei, one of three dudleyas I got. I've killed quite a few over the years but am going to give these coastal California succulents another try. The key is to plant them on a slight slope so water drains away from them, and to keep them on the dry side in the summer.

Here is a list of my purchases:
I'm sure I will refer back to this list before too long.

Now it's time to head outside and get these new babies into the ground!


  1. A great haul! How do you do with poppies? I struggle and would love some tips!

    1. To be honest, this is the first time I'm trying this type of poppies. On the 2016 Pence Gallery Garden Tour I saw a front yard filled with poppies so they do grow here in Davis.

  2. As much as I want all of those plants, my garden now needs a 'Booger Mining Troll'! This places oozes whimsy. Thanks for the ride along. Is a Wave Garden post in the works?

    1. Booger Mining Troll! I love it. I think I'm the Booger Mining Troll in my garden!

      Yes, Wave Garden post coming up. I swung by after Annie's.

  3. I too shopped Annies sale Gerhard, but I did it online. This weekend was fully involved in planting my self inflicted 300 tulip bulbs , and the next two are booked up. Who knows what the weather will be-this was a perfect weekend to go down there.I like your selection ! I too have murdered Cousin Itt. You'd think we'd be able to grow an Acacia !

    1. About 3/4 of the plants on my wish list were not available online but many of them were in stock at the nursery. Always a pleasant surprise!

      "Real" acacias are easy compared to 'Cousin Itt'. Unfortunately, the more challenging a plant is, the more I seem to be attracted to it!

  4. Everything you bought should do well, except the dudleyas and felicias don't like our heat. The gomphrena you were contemplating is not G. globosa, but is G."Fireworks" a different species. It can overwinter if you're lucky, but usually not. It's easy from seed, and does well here in Davis. Can't help you on your unknowns. Sue

    1. Sue, I already have two Felicia aethiopica 'Tight & Tidy' and they've done very well through our hot summer. I hope that wasn't a fluke.

      I think 'Fireworks' is Gomphrena globosa'. See the listing on Annie's site.

  5. You got a great haul! I just strolled through Annie's on-line offerings yesterday, looking to take advantage of the sale. Since it runs through 12/31, I may wait a week or 2 before ordering to see if anything else on my wish list becomes available. Visiting Annie's in person one day is a goal of mine and, as I learned yesterday that I'll be attending a niece's wedding in Grass Valley mid-summer, I'm already scheming about getting my husband to make a side trip to Richmond. I was surprised to hear Annie's is in zone 10a as I'm 10b and have problems growing a number of the plants that thrive at the nursery too - I wish Annie's would fold Sunset zones into their info bank as those are better predictors but I realize that'd be asking a lot.

    1. See my reply to Kathy above. Many of the plants listed as unavailable on the web site are actually in stock at the nursery. You should definitely plan on making a trip to Annie's next summer--a pilmgrimage, if you will! And stop at my house for a visit. We're right on the way!

    2. And save time for the Ruth Bancroft Garden too Kris. You can definitely do both in one day.

  6. What a treat to visit Annie’s this time of year. You’re haul is fabulous and you made me laugh with the “dreaded white tag” observation. Anytime I’ve visited I always seem attracted to the darn white tags.

    1. Me too! Because we're attracted to the unusual (and expensive) stuff.

      When I talked to Annie's in the spring, I told her a sure-fire way to reel in plant geeks is to put the words "rare and unusual" on the plant label!

  7. We drove down Highway 5 yesterday from Oregon, and detouring to Annie's was briefly on the itinerary, but we opted to relieve the pet sitter early Monday morning rather than Monday night. Good to know the poppy selection is up and running for later winter/early spring planting -- and the sale is on through December!

    1. I like shopping late(r) in the year because the plants are usually larger than in the spring. And the dudleyas I got were indeed massive for 4-inch pots. But much of this year's stock was gone, replaced with new starts for 2018, meaning the plants were small, often nothing more than seedlings.

  8. I think I've killed as many Dudleyas as 'Cousin Itt's. Great choice of plants! The Glaucium is a nice one.

    Make sure you save a space for 'Bright Star'.

    1. I'm known as the dudleya killer around here. At least I used to be. A Dudleya brittonii I bought in the spring is still alive (and doing well), so I feel emboldened to try again.

      Yucca 'Bright Star', you will always have a spot in my garden!

  9. Thank you for the wonderful post about Annie's!
    Mystery plant #1: Helichrysum splendidum. It will be available from Annie's in 2018.
    #2: Eriophyllum confertiflorum, looking a little sad as it is at the end of the season.
    #3: Dendroseris littoralis. :)

    1. Thank you SO MUCH for ID'ing my mystery plants.

      #1: I can't wait to buy one next year!
      #2: Ironically, I had an Eriophyllum confertiflorum in my shopping cart when I took this photo!
      #3: I want one but it needs a cool coastal climate. Davis definitely does NOT have that. :-(


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