Just to get out of the house on a gorgeous, sunny, 72F (22 C) December day, we decided to visit Roger's Gardens, a local garden center that also sells a lot of ornaments and decorations and Christmas trees real and plastic, during the holiday shopping season, with a Santa on hand, too. We thought it would be busy, but not insanely busy.
We were wrong. Really wrong. It was insanely busy. There were no open parking spaces, so we opted for valet parking. Yes, valet parking for a garden center. Only in California. Yes, we say that here.
Cyclamen are beautiful, but...
...Aloes are a more climate appropriate massed floral display:
Roger's recently opened a "field to fork" style restaurant that has proven extremely popular. The parking lot was full, the restaurant was buzzing and packed, the buildings holding Christmas decor were mobbed with shoppers, but we had the plants nearly to ourselves.
The stuff no one was interested in.
Lots of pretty foliage. Isn't this lovely? Okay, not as popular as the glitter-covered glass baby Jesus made in China, but...lovely.
The usual holiday stuff, which was what most people who were buying were buying.
"Living" Christmas trees were popular for a couple of years, and some people still view them as a good option, which they are in a climate more appropriate for conifers. Roger's still sells some. I always wince to see Blue Spruce (Picea pungens), a gorgeous tree in, say, Western Montana, sold in Newport Beach. It's doomed here. Doomed! Roger's was indeed selling potted Blue Spruce, along with this...WTF?!?!
A scouring pad wearing a kilt (hula skirt?), only it's a plant.
Does something like this ever become beautiful? I feel terrible for these plants, both of them. It's horrifying. Tell me I'm wrong. I could be wrong. Am I wrong?
Let's look at something else. That mass planting of Aloe 'Safari Sunset'.
Classic Chrysanthemums, but they are not overly popular here--a small caterpillar and aphids make a mess of them, winter or not, if our winter heat waves don't turn them into brown straw.
The slope by the restaurant, recently host to a stunning planting of yellow Leucospermum, golden Coleonema 'Sunset Gold', and a golden Monterrey Cypress of great beauty, was stripped bare during restaurant construction and replanted with Agave americana, Aloe striata, dinner place Aeoniums, and a Carex...pansa or divulsa?
Nice, but I miss the Leucospermums, which were spectacular.
On the other side of the Pine, a mass of Lomandra. When I saw this I heard Yoda's voice: "You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes."
Roger's is still selling a good number of Phormiums. I've given up on them because of the Phormium mealy bug, and Phormium size (they get huge), and the reversion issue (the most interesting foliage variants often revert to a plain color). They are fine plants, though.
Gorgeous variegated Fatsia japonica. Very tempting, but I already have the Spider's Web version, and they are relatively thirsty plants.
Beautiful Bromeliads in a basket of Muehlenbeckia axillaris, I am guessing, because those Bromeliads in a basket of Silver Falls Dichondra would have been so gorgeous people would faint right there in in front of it.
Below the Brom basket was this interesting and unfamiliar plant, Corynocarpus laevigatus 'Varigatus'. They wanted $149 for it. This is a slow growing tree native to New Zealand. Slow growing explained the price (T = $), and comments in the link above make it sound like a very choice plant for a part to mostly shaded place.
More appropriate for my sunny garden, Roger's largest surviving 'Mr. Ripple', which is around 7' wide.
A particularly beautiful Agave.
Not a plant did we buy--plenty at home still need in the ground. No, really.
Back out to valet to retrieve our car, the parking lot was even more packed than before--after waiting several minutes while the poor valet guys ran like crazy from car to car, moved cars around to retrieve ours. We had trouble getting out of the parking lot because of the line of at least fifty cars waiting to get into the parking lot. Cars waited all the way down the access lane and were lined up out onto San Miguel Drive. Most people going to the restaurant, I imagine, since it was close to lunchtime. Perhaps they need to expand the restaurant and get rid of the garden center. Who cares about growing plants, when you can spend $17 on a hamburger?
Help me feel the Force, Yoda.