nursery hopping in December

Pulling into a favorite nursery’s driveway yesterday, I could already see from the street it’s a madhouse. I’d completely forgotten the split personality most nurseries take on in December. The usually empty parking lot is not only full of cars, moving and parked, but also Christmas trees, shoppers, and children darting among the cars. I proceeded cautiously, pulling into the first (and only) available parking stall to eliminate one less moving object from the mayhem. The car makes a small bump, bump, and as I jump out to investigate an employee accuses, “You ran over our tree stand!” which he’s brandishing in his hand as evidence of the crime. Of course, there will be Christmas tree stands in the parking stalls in December, and overworked employees irritated that I would be unaware of this fact. There’s no more denying that the holidays are officially in full swing. I very nearly got immediately back in the car to leave.

But I’m glad I didn’t, because they were carrying Lobelia tupa in gallons, a plant never offered locally.
And their excellent stock of the proteaceae family included the sight of this Protea ‘Mini King’ in bloom in its container:

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Protea 'Mini King' photo 1-P1019776.jpg

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And a bulbous plant not often seen, the giant red Crinum asiaticum var. procerum.

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This specimen was old enough and big enough to flower, sending a swooping stalk like a flamingo’s neck almost to the ground.
There was a smaller plant in a 3-gallon size for almost $50.

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I might want to try the variegated Euphorbia characias in a container too. The ones I planted last winter melted away again.

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As usual, I warm up to the winter holidays slowly, apparently marching to a different little drummer boy. But there’s still plenty of time.
We’ve always been the house that brings home the tree on the 24th.

Have a great week, and watch out for those tree stands.

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11 Responses to nursery hopping in December

  1. Alan @ It's Not Work, It's Gardening! says:

    Oh, how I hate shopping around the holidays. Oh, how I love that Protea bloom!! I wish nurseries around here had more to offer in winter.

  2. David says:

    Which nursery?

  3. hb says:

    Is this the place on Sepulveda in El Segundo? My ‘Mini King’ is blooming too. The insanity that overtakes people in December was very evident this morning at Trader Joes, unfortunately. I look forward to January.

  4. David Feix says:

    Similar lament Denise, pulling in for some quick plant purchases to finish off a project, and AAACCKK!! Over-run with cut Christmas trees and too few of the plants I needed. Well, there’s always a Plan B, flexibility is a very desireable quality in general.But a bloody nuisance to have to hit 5 nurseries instead of just one. But, there’s always an upside, bumping into stock of newly available Arbutus arizonica from Native Sons Wholesale(have to finally pay a visit one day). Lots of serendipity up at the UCBBG Gift Shop too, bumping into old friend cloudforest plants in full bloom which I hadn’t grown in over 20 years. Now where to plant a Salvia wagneriana which will get 10 x 10′? Plus a first visit to the Natives Revival Nursery in Tilden Park, and finding such a wealth of plants even broken out by habitat location. (As if I were ever such a stickler for such details…)

    Your Protea ‘Mini King’ is gorgeous, I’ll have to be content with the several dozen first blooms on my Protea ‘Pink Ice’ which has delighted my client in the hills. It looked so gawky for the first year, but I had faith.

    As to Christmas trees, nah, the Lady Palm in the living room will have to do.

  5. Denise says:

    @Alan, I agree with you on all points!
    @David, it’s International Nursery on Sepulveda at El Segundo Blvd.
    @Hoov, yes, it is. I hesitated using their name in such a grouchy post. Great nursery!
    @David, I remember Tom Piergrossi saying wagneriana was such a great winter bloomer in San Diego (before he moved to Hawaii). I tried it a couple times but couldn’t get it to bloom unless massive in size. Being a wizard with pruning, I bet you coax some blooms out before it reaches 10 X 10. About the nurseries in Dec, I’ve heard talk about plant shortages and limited availability down here too.

  6. Kris P says:

    Apparently, the nursery owner failed to give the employees the “peace on earth, goodwill to men” speech at the start of the day. I considered an outing to the Marina Del Rey Garden Center this weekend myself but just couldn’t stomach dealing with exactly the kind of situation you encountered at International. Even my last trip to Roger’s at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend was a bit disappointing – shelves were fairly bare; there were trees occupying prime plant space; and they have a huge area cordoned off while they build their new restaurant/bar.

  7. I’m saving that first Protea ‘Mini King’ image and when the grey rainy days, that are predicted for all week long, start to get me down I am just going to stare at it and dream its blooming in my garden.

  8. Luisa says:

    How I want that Protea. International is two and a half hours from me, but your photos…! I should trot down there during winter or spring break. Don’t mind crowds a bit if a place is full of cool plants and pots. Lobelia tupa looks cool — also frost hardy!

  9. Denise says:

    @Kris, I was checking too to see if there was stock of Annie’s sweet peas. The AA&P stock has not been replenished since you visited, btw.
    @Loree, what a soggy time you’re having! Still waiting for our promised El Nino.
    @Luisa, if you go be sure to let me know and we can meet up.

  10. Alison says:

    I’ve been avoiding all kinds of shops at this time of year, but I can’t reasonably stay away from the grocery store. If a nursery here had a blooming Protea like that I’d be over there in the twinkling of an eye (or maybe the twinkling of a Christmas light). I tend to be very grumpy during the holidays. Crowds do that to me.

  11. Les says:

    I sold Christmas trees for 20 years, and I can tell you it wasn’t always a delight. You’d think if someone was buying a Christmas tree it would be safe to say “Merry Christmas” as they were leaving, but apparently that was too non-secular for someone who spit out that I should use happy holidays instead. Then there was the time I asked some children if they were looking forward to Santa Claus, too which the mom quickly responded that they knew Santa was a myth, and that she was trying to raise her children without unrealistic expectations from the world, and also without a whole lot of fun I said to myself.

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