Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Peacock Horticultural Nursery: still one of my favorite places to buy plants, spiky and otherwise

On Saturday I had the opportunity to revisit one of my favorite nurseries: Peacock Horticultural Nursery in Sebastopol, Sonoma County. If traffic is smooth, it's a 90-minute drive from Davis—unfortunately, not close enough to go as often as I'd like. But as you can see in this image-heavy post, it's such a special place that I've vowed to return soon.

Peacock Horticultural Nursery is owned by Robert Peacock (hence the name) and Marty Waldron. It's the kind of nursery that has become rare in this age of big box stores and garden centers: a place run by true plant lovers—plant nerds, you might say—where plants are front and center. And I'm not talking about the few dozen mainstream plants you find at Lowe's, Home Depot and OSH. What PHN carries is the antithesis of that. Or, as I like to say, the antidote. The 80+ photos below are ample proof of that.


PHN is not a sterile business in a commercial strip. Instead, it's literally Robert's and Marty's front and backyard (they live in the house right by the entrance). It just happens to be full of plants you can buy. The fact that many of them are unusual or rare makes the experience even sweeter. If you like exploring and finding plants you never even knew existed, this is the place for you!


Peacock Horticultural Nursery is located on Gravenstein Highway South about half way between Cotati (the town where you exit Highway 101) and downtown Sebastopol. Heading west, it's right after a bend in the road so keep your eyes open as you approach. Right now it's easy to spot: Just look for the brilliant yellow Acacia pravissima you see in the photos above and below.


In the next photo you see the house where the owners Robert and Marty live.



The small building in the next couple of photos is where you pay for your purchases: 


The display area in front of the building is full of wonderful succulents. I'll have close-ups later in this post.




Aloe 'Erik the Red'


As you can see, many plants simply sit on the ground and get replaced as people buy them.

Wider view of the front of the nursery


As odd as this may sound, I love the fact that there is no rigid organization. Plants that look good together are displayed together. To me that makes a lot of sense. After all, that's how my garden is, too. Another advantage of this approach: There is a real sense of discovery as you make your way through the nursery since you never know what you might find next. I can't emphasize enough how exciting that is. 

So let's go explore!

Succulents, shrubs from the southern hemisphere, conifers, bromeliads, leafy shade plants—whatever you like, you're sure to find it somewhere in the nursery

Succulents galore


Banksias go with anything!

String of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)

Yucca 'Bright Star', large and small

The smaller 'Bright Star' were so colorful

This one had a particularly nice form

Echeveria agavoides 'Ebony', one of the "it" plants of the last few years

Easy to see why

I was particularly excited to see so many mangaves from Walters Gardens. If you were tempted by my recent post on mangaves but didn't know where to find them, this is a good place. Very reasonably priced, too!

Even more exciting: Agave albopilosa for $10

Agave albopilosa is arguably the most exciting new agave to come into the trade in the last 5 years. It's been very hard to find but thanks to tissue culture it's becoming more widely available. These small plants may not look like much yet, but wait until you see the larger specimen at the end of this post!


Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Butterfingers'

Gray honey myrtle (Melaleuca incana)

Aloe broomii (and Adenanthos sericeus)

Aloe broomii

Leucadendron 'Little Bit'

Leucadendron 'Little Bit'



I could easily get into conifers, especially dwarf selections

Agave montana 'Baccarat'


Grevillea gaudichaudii and Agave geminiflora


Awesome combination of colors and textures, especially Yucca 'Blue Boy' against Cordyline 'Electric Flash'

Everybody needs a head planter!

Ulmus parvifolia 'Lois Hole'

Mangave (not sure which hybrid) and Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor'


Another Yucca 'Bright Star'. So hard to find, and yet PHN had about 10 of them!

Camellia 'Night Rider', the one camellia I find truly exciting


Sarracenias galore!

Agave ovatifolia

Peek inside the greenhouse. All these plants will come out as soon as its gets a little warmer.

Plants in the ground seamlessly blending with plants for sale

In the ground and not for sale: Aloe polyphylla, the much beloved spiral aloe that has broken the heart of so many people attempting to grow it

This specimen is just about perfect

Neat things to see wherever you look

Now we're back in the front of the nursery. These are plants right outside the building where you pay. I guess I should call it the "office."


Leucospermum 'Tango'

Oscularia caulescens

Agave mitis var. albidior 'UCB'

Echeveria agavoides

Possibly Aloe ferox

×Mangave 'Spotty Dotty'

×Mangave 'Spotty Dotty'

×Mangave 'Kaleidoscope'

×Mangave 'Kaleidoscope'

×Mangave 'Silver Fox'

×Mangave 'Silver Fox'

×Mangave 'Man of Steel'

Succulent tapestry

Yucca rostrata


Another beautiful mangave, not quite sure which hybrid

Not one Echeveria agavoides 'Ebony', but three!


Let's end this long post on a high note: a spectacular specimen of Agave albopilosa.


Robert Peacock told me he bought it as a 4-inch plant from Plant Delights in 2014.



Those tufts of soft hair are completely unique. Watch out, though, there's a terminal spine hidden inside.



In case you were wondering what I bought:

  • Agave albopilosa (which I promptly forgot at the nursery, but Robert is holding it for me)
  • Aechmea recurvata var. benrathii (I'm afraid I might have been bitten by the terrestrial bromeliad bug)
  • Aechmea recurvata 'Aztec Gold'
  • 'Blue Ice' Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica 'Blue Ice') for my mother-in-law's garden
  • Cordyline 'Design-A-Line'
  • Leucadendron 'Little Bit' to go with the one I already had
  • Chinese holly (Mahonia lomariifolia)

Peacock Horticultural Nursery is located at 4296 Gravenstein Highway South in Sebastopol. It is open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 3pm.

It's best not to be in hurry when you visit since time seems to fly as you get caught up in the excitement of discovery.


RELATED POSTS

(June 2014) Return to Peacock Horticultural Nursery in Sebastopol, CA
(December 2013) A visit to Peacock Horticultural Nursery, part 1
(December 2013) A visit to Peacock Horticultural Nursery, part 2

17 comments:

  1. What a wonderful place to visit! I had never seen a camellia like that, really beautiful! I adore camellias my love for them verges on mild madness.

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    1. I love 'Night Rider'. I've killed one but am ready to try again. I read that it produces so much red pigment that even the roots are red.

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  2. I love that place! Need to get up there soon. And I'm loving all my Aechmeas too. My regular recurvata is so colorful right now. A glowing fiery orange. I've been lusting after 'Aztec Gold'. I've seen it at the dry garden in Oakland, but at $40 in a 4" pot i've passed multiple times. May I ask how much they were? May have to snag one if they're still available and reasonably priced.

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    1. Max, the 'Aztec Gold' (labeled 'Aztec Queen') was $15 for a 1 gallon. Even more incentive to make the trek to Peacock!

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    2. OMG now I definitely have to go! Thank you! And I hope you made it to Lone Pine as well.

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  3. Omg! I have to put this on my list. Wish I wish I have time to go now but will have to wait. Thanks for this great info Gerhard.

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    1. Definitely! You can combine Peacock with Lone Pine Gardens (also in Sebastopol) and Cottage Gardens of Petaluma (in Petaluma).

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  4. So many treasures! So how big was the speciman Agave albopilosa?

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    1. I'd say the bigger specimen of Agave albopilosa was about 6 inches across. Greg Starr says the adult size is 10-16 inches across, so the specimen at Peacock still has a way to go.

      HERE is a fantastic article about Agave albopilosa in habitat.

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  5. If I found a nursery like this within an easy drive from my home I'd think I'd died and gone to heaven. I knew it was going to be special when I saw that fabulous Acacia up front. The arrangement of the goods for sale struck me as more artistic than haphazard. And all those nicely planted Mangaves have scratched my itch to bring more into my own garden. You're becoming a bad influence, Gerhard!

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    1. Hey, I'm glad I could finally reciprocate for you blogging about all the cool plants you can buy in Southern California :-).

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  6. Love this place! I have been regretting not getting the 'Aztec Gold' since my last visit!

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    1. I've done that many times--leaving cool plants behind. I'm trying to get better about it, but sometimes the rational part of my brain takes over and whispers, "why buy it you don't need it you don't even know where to put it you have enough plants already you shouldn't spend any more money on plants this month...."

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  7. I love how they display their sale plants too. Definitely adding this nursery to the NorCal road trip checklist. Thank you!

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    1. Yes, I'd consider Peacock a can't-miss destination. I know that you, as a coastal Southern California gardener, are spoiled for choice, but I still think you'd find a thing or two at Peacock.

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  8. Looks like they have all my favorite plants. How'd that happen?

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    1. There must be some cosmic force field for plant geeks that we're all plugged into!

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