My Favorite Nurseries

When I talk to people about gardening with natives, they often remark that the plants are hard to find. And it's true that most nurseries stock no natives or very few, and the staff is often confused about what is a California native and what is a drought tolerant plant. There are, however, several native plant nurseries not too far from where I live (SF Peninsula), and in a pinch, there's always mail order.

The most fun (and most economical) is to go to a native plant sale of your chapter of CNPS. The Santa Clara valley chapter just had their plant sale last Saturday. It was truly a popular sale, with many helpful volunteer, a great collection of healthy plants, and a lot of visitors including many kids.
The native plant specialty nurseries sell only natives and often interesting art work.
  • Yerba Buena Nursery is off Skyline Boulevard, so it's a good idea to have your shopping list complete. Their beautiful demonstration garden is a delight, and the afternoon teas are a special treat. I wish I had time for the Butterfly Tea on April 11! Yerba Buena has a truly outstanding collection of healthy plants year round, and you can use their web site, which includes photos for most plants, to make your shopping list.
  • Another favorite is Native Revival nursery in Aptos. This hidden gem is literally right off the freeway, so I always stop if I have to go over the hill. During the big sale in October, I might even make a special trip. Native Revival has an especially good collection of grasses, and the staff is helpful and knowledgeable.
  • I met the wonderful people from Gold Rush Nursery during the Santa Cruz arboretum hummingbird day, and then again at the SF Flower and Garden show. A great collection of 4-inch pot allowed my to try some things in different locations. I've not yet been to the nursery itself, which is in Soquel, but might swing by next time visit Country Mouse.
Recently, the Summerwinds Nursery in Mountain View has started a natives section. I'm very impressed with the quality of the plants, the nice presentation, the selection, and the price. It's very encouraging to see natives are going more main stream. Payless Nursery in San Jose also has a great collection of natives, and Almaden Valley Nursery is one of the sponsers of this year's Going Native Garden Tour and will be selling natives at the Foxborough Garden.

For truly desparate times, finally, there's mail order. I don't get catalogues but order over the Internet. One of my favorites is Annie's Annuals. The Web site has a truly bewildering selection of amazing plants for any spot. I usually try to resist too much temptation and choose one of the Totally Useful Plant Lists, the Californial Natives. I've ordered from Annie's several times and the plants are expertly packaged and healthy. I also stopped by in person once, and found an amazing place with rows and rows (and rows) of tables with 4-inch pots in an industrial area of Richmond. I found it a bit overwhelming and actually prefer the mail order for Annie's. Anoter excellent source of information and mail order plants is Las Pilitas. Country Mouse has ordered from Las Pilitas already. Because they have to drive to town to ship, shipping is not cheap and I have so far resisted the temptation.

Instead, when I'm truly stuck and need to know where to get a plant, I go to the California Native Plant Link Exchange. If you know the name of the plant you need, it's easy to find the places that carry the plant or sell the seed. And who knows, maybe you'll decide to propagate from seed (after all, we all know that Real Gardeners Propagate).


GardenJoy4Me said…
Hello there girl !
This is a great post to let gardeners in your area know about good nurseries ! .. Funny enough even though I am Canadian I love Annie's site and refer back to it quite a bit for information on plants ! I too resort to a mail order company or two ? haha
Anonymous said…
It can be a great idea to swap plants/seeds with other bloggers in your neighborhood...
Last week, we had a meeting of Belgian garden bloggers (most of them 'natives-gardeners) at a nursery growing natives. And after discovering that some of us where searching for exactly those plants that the others of the group had plenty of, gave us the idea to organize the next meeting as a 'swap-party' in the garden of one of us, instead of a nursery.
Town Mouse said…
Alas, we can't swap plants these days because of the light brown apple moth infestation.

For the plant sales, they have an inspector come, but we can't bring plants to a nursery, or to each others gardens.

Great idea, though. Maybe eventually this moth problem will get resolved.
Laura Z said…
Is that an orange monkey flower? I love those! They grow right out of the rocks in the steep canyons here in Los Angeles. I almost got in an accident once because I slowed down to look at them.
Down here we have the Theodore Payne Foundation as a great native nursery. I've found the mom and pops nurseries usually have more drought tolerant plants (and know more about them). I picked you on blotanical! Happy gardening!