June 28, 2013

A Visit to Annie's Annuals

Finally, I was able to visit Annie's Annuals - one of my favorite nurseries ( from a list of many, it may be number 1 for container plants). I hope you are seated, since you must prepare yourself for awesomeness!

Annie's Annuals is well known among the gardening geeks for offering plants found no where else ( nursery-wise). It's as if someone took your great grandfathers cold frames of pansy seedlings, and combined it with Kew Gardens, a plant explorer fresh back from China in 1900 ( and South American, and South Africa too), and then gave them a nursery where they could sell their discoveries.

Did I mention that they use now growth regulators ( virtually unheard-of in the nursery trade today) so that even these annuals will perform like crazy in your garden? Look - if you were like me, and wondered who would ever buy a nasturtium seedling via the internet, then all I can say is that you need to try it. Just once, and let me know. Last year, I ordered many Californian natives, as well as hard-to-germinate cold-weather annuals like Nemisia, and I soon discovered why people order these plants from Annie's - they were well branched, in 4 or 5 inch containers, (perfectly packed in a box, I must say) - I could never have raised such seedling, even in my cold greenhouse. Annie's is like having a private English gardener raising your fancy annuals ( and biennials and perennials) for you - it's my secret to growing many hard to grow plants like some poppies. Try them next year.

for unusual and well grown plants. You may have thought that Annie's Annuals primarily sold Californian natives and plants that perform well in western gardens, but many of the plants from Annie's make excellent Eastern plants for early spring or summer beds, exceptional salvias and late blooming annuals, and some tender greenhouse plants found no where else via mail order. I love Annie's, so here are a few pics to share from my trip there with the fabulous Garden Blogger Fling'ers.

 A glorious day color , fine plants and inspiration at Annie's Annuals in Richmond, CA.

Amazing what a white marker on a black nursery pot can look like! This works for me.

Every region of the United States has its garden mecca, and for those of you who live in the Western part of the country, the specialty nursery known as Annie's Annuals comes as no surprise, but you might be surprised to know that many of the fine plants sold by Annie's are also sent to gardeners who collect and grow unusual or rare plant elsewhere in the Country, as many of the species are just impossible to find anywhere else. This past weekend, I was so fortunate to visit this fine nursery, to see Annie herself present a bit about what her nursery offer ( thanks for the shout out Annie!), and to speak a bit about what makes her place so special and different, but sadly, I never had a chance to catch up with her after the talk, which was part of this garden bloggers fling that I am attending this weekend in San Francisco.

Coastal Wildflowers of California

Now that my duties with Design Week and HOWLive are over, I have a little personal time to travel around the San Francisco area and botanize. Joined by my friend Wendi from LA who flew up to join me, we are traveling up the coast from San Francisco along the beautiful coastal highways which begin near the Muir Woods just over the Golden Gate Bridge, and along the shoreline from Bodega Ba, Fort Ross State Park, Salt Point State Park, Sea Ranch, ending at the foggy, and rocky shoreline of Mendocino, where we spent the night enjoying great food, and even better wine.

OK, I'm on a bit of a holiday for the rest of these week - traveling from San Francisco up the coast nearly to Oregon, and then back again through Napa and Sonoma, before returning to S.F. for the Garden Bloggers Fling. I'll be sharing a few photos showing highlights of this trip -  I hope you enjoy them!

Mimulus aurantiacus

Late June may not be the best time to see wildflowers and native plants, but I think that any time of the year would be interesting for a plantsperson in this part of the United States. We have been blessed with incredible weather, ( yes, it's been foggy and rainy here while my design conferences were happening, but today, the temperatures reached near 90º F and the fog has all but disappeared. Near the coast, the air temperatures remain cool, but I am certain that once we drive inland tomorrow, towards Sonoma and Napa, that we will be basking in temps nearing 100º.

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June 25, 2013

Design Week SF - a Week in the Bay Area

A bronze lion stalks prey in front of a giant Chilean Gunnera at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. 

Thanks to everyone who came to my talk and presentation at HOWlive Design conference today!
I look forward to meeting with you throughout the event!

A late nineteenth century ornate bronze vase by Gustave Dore (1882) which represents an allegory of the annual wine harvest in France,  contrasts nicely with the contemporary design of Hertzog & de Meuron. Plants selected are
naturally architectural such as Gunnera and Date Palms. This is brilliant placement, with the bronze tones, a balance of simplicity and complexity.

Pleached trees are rarely seen in America, but I can appreciate the time it takes to cut trees back like this, and even the overall look. It's not for everyone but it's a method of maintaining size and conformity popular since the 1700's. Often seen in Paris and Europe, it does take annual heavy pruning, a difficult task when trees are this size, as seen in the courtyard in front of the California Academy of Sciences ( note it's famous green roof, those domes with the plant material on them).

The super tall growing Impatiens sodenii lines the sidewalk which leads to the botanic garden. This is an impatiens which can grow to 6 feet tall, and here, it is evergreen. I grow it in the greenhouse, and bring out tubs of cuttings for use in the garden during the summer.

A Cineraria species ( stellata?) carpets the ground under trees near the botanic garden.

Many people are shocked to see date palms in San Francisco, but it's Mediterranean climate makes the area ideal for such desert plants that can take moisture during their  dormant period.

A great pond, with giant Gunneral growing in clumps.

A great lawn near the entrance of the San Francisco Botanic Garden invites people to lounge.

I am so tired, I need to crash for the nigh, as I am presenting a speech in the morning. Once I am done with HOWlive design Conference, and Design Week, I promise that I will post more soon, especially since Thursday and Friday I am taking as personal vacation days - and then, taking in the Garden Bloggers Fling on Friday and Saturday. Stay tuned!