There Should Be More Places Like This
We got back from the Garden Bloggers’ Fling last night, and found that our own garden has been progressing at breakneck speed: flowers blooming, buds swelling, vines twining, berries ripening, seeds sprouting. I’ll post about these developments shortly, as soon as Judy is able to get out with her camera and take some pictures.
In the meantime, I really have to mention that the organizers of the 2013 Fling did an outstanding job, particularly Kelly Kilpatrick and Andrea Fox. Remarkable that such a quality event was organized entirely by volunteer labor.
For now I’m going to post about another highlight of the Fling: a visit to Annie’s Annuals and Perennials. Annie’s is a grower and seller of herbaceous garden plants, and I have to say I wish there were more nurseries and garden centers like them.
For starters, the wide selection of plants. Wandering the aisles of Annie’s is like going on a plant-finding expedition in a new country. They have standard favorites, sure. But they also have many lots of unusual California natives, heirloom, and cottage garden plants.
Plus, Annie’s has a real focus on offering good quality plants without marketing gimmicks. For example, Annie’s founder Annie Hayes explained to us that she does not use growth regulators. Growth regulators can induce early blooming – they are the reason you see so many plants at the Home Depot in flower weeks or even months before the normal bloom period. The reason: flowering plants sell, especially to inexperienced gardeners.
But that early flowering can mean that the overall plant is actually weaker and will not perform as well once in the ground. Annie Hayes told us that if you find flowering plants for sale at Annie’s, it probably means they planted too many of them. They aim to sell plants that are healthy and ready to put down roots in customers’ flower beds.
This doesn’t mean, though, that there is a lack of color at Annie’s. There are all kinds of blooming flowers in displays throughout the center.
Annie’s is a no frills operation. Located where land was cheaper, in an economically struggling area, it has been referred to as “the garden in the hood”. The bathrooms are port-o-potties. No cappuccino is available. And while they do have some interesting garden art for sale, there is a general shortage of cutesy stuff.
Annie’s has a mail order operation as well as a retail center. If you live in California or a California-type climate, you might want to check out their website.
As for me, it is probably good that Annie’s does not have a branch in Chicago. I spend enough money on the garden as it is.