Annie’s Annuals: The Ultimate Plant Road Trip

Entrance to Annies Annuals
Entrance to Annies Annuals

As any serious (and not so serious gardener) knows – Annie’s Annuals is the mecca for buying some serious ‘plant lust’ worthy annuals. On a recent trip to San Francisco on the Garden Bloggers Fling, I had the pleasure and opportunity to visit and actually buy plants from them in person instead of on-line. My only hurdle –  it had to be small and portable enough to go into my carry on for the plane. So, I was looking for interesting and unusual, but in a 4 inch pot!

 A whimsical Annie's creation
A whimsical Annie’s creation

According to their catalog -Annie’s is known for heirlooms, natives, annuals, perennials, and shrubs, old roses, trees, and an incredible number of edibles. Located in Richmond, California, I never thought I would actually get to troll the aisles of plants at Annie’s. But when I signed up for the Fling, I noticed that Annie’s along with Flora Grub, were their two nursery stops. A future post will be devoted to Flora Grub which was also fantastic!!  http://www.floragrubb.com/idx/index.php.

Delen Kitchen of Plant Propaganda with her treasures at Flora Grub http://www.plantpropaganda.com/
Delen Kitchen of Plant Propaganda with her treasures at Flora Grub
http://www.plantpropaganda.com/

Let me explain the Garden Bloggers Fling. This is an annual event for garden bloggers to meet other bloggers with the same passion for writing about gardening, and to travel to far-flung and unusual gardens and nurseries around the globe. There were 80 bloggers from all over the U.S., as well as Canada and England. This year the Fling was in San Francisco, the epicenter of gardening in California. Many of the plants that I saw in gardens there I grow as houseplants like cactus and succulents, and the hardiness zone was a 10 compared to my zone 6b garden. A little zone envy was apparent with some of the participants, but I am quite happy with a 6b here in Maryland.

USDA Hardiness Zones in North America
USDA Hardiness Zones in North America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is Annie giving a talk about her nursery
This is Annie giving a talk about her nursery

So, back to Annie’s. This is a 2.5 acre women owned and operated nursery with over 2000 varieties of plants. It started 20 years ago as a back yard hobby and has turned into a hugely successful “urban garden” operation.  Annie’s caters to all plant-a-holics with old-fashioned seed grown plants. They specialize in cottage garden and Mediterranean climate bloomers that will knock your socks off as you enter the nursery and see all the demo gardens greet you at the entrance.

Great combinations are used in the demo gardens
Great combinations are used in the demo gardens
Scenes from Annie's- the whimsy vibe was great and the helpers were friendly and knowledgeable
Scenes from Annie’s- the whimsy vibe was great and the helpers were friendly and knowledgeable

I was really intrigued with an annual plant called Clarkia or otherwise known as Godetia. A California native that is drought and clay tolerant, Clarkia blooms in dazzling drifts of pastel peach and pink. Unfortunately it is only available until April at Annie’s, so I was unable to pick any up though I will look for some seeds here for future plantings. Clarkia was a big blooming machine that filled many of the demo beds with billows of color and I was smitten!  I will be looking into growing this next year for sure.

Clarkia 'Aurora'
Clarkia ‘Aurora’
Drifts of Clarkia
Drifts of Clarkia

So what did I pick up? It was a tough choice. I took home an unusual Cuphea with gorgeous flowers, a honey bush, Melianthus major, which I have always wanted to try, and Helleborus lividus ‘Pink Marble’. The Helleborus is a variegated one with beautiful flowers and I am pushing the envelope with hardiness as the zone stated is either a 7 or 8 depending on what web site you look at. I really liked it so am going to chance it. The others are annuals and I will enjoy them this summer.

Pink Marble Helleborus
Pink Marble Helleborus
Melianthus major, known for its striking blue green foliage
Melianthus major, known for its striking blue green foliage
Cuphea micropetala
Cuphea micropetala

I limited myself to 3 plants as I had already picked up some others earlier, and I wanted to leave room for plants from Flora Grubb’s nursery. I had the perfect roomy tote bag brought just for the purpose of filling it with plants. They all made it home safe and I have planted them already.

Carry on with plants
Carry on with plants

Next up for the Fling- Flora Grubb’s nursery!

14 Replies to “Annie’s Annuals: The Ultimate Plant Road Trip”

  1. Hi Claire, I am glad to see a post on Annie’s Annuals since I could not take photos while there. My camera battery gave out after only ten images at Matt Gil’s garden. Annie’s is a great nursery “in the hood” as Annie put it. You were lucky to purchase plants even though a tough choice to narrow it down. I could not take them on the plane back east, but would have loved to shop. Thanks for the link above. I will be posting on some of the gardens we saw, but much later after all the Flingers get out their posts like I did last year. I like too that you posted what our Fling was in this post. Many of my readers have no clue.

  2. Claire….It must have been a wonderful day with the California sunshine and the cool breezes of the Bay…that is always hovering over the city…..I lived in San Francisco before I married and loved it…..Annie’s did not exist at that time…wish it had. Your visit in Annie’s Gardens sounds like Paradise…..

  3. Wasn’t that a fun stop on the Fling? That reminds me — I just got home a couple of hours ago and still need to pull a little yucca I bought there out of my suitcase!

  4. Weren’t those Clarkias spectacular…I felt the same way, if they’d had them for sale, I’d have bought some in a heartbeat! I love how many wonderful old-fashioned cultivars they offer…it’s so nice to see them in a nursery!

  5. I love the carry-on with plants! Mine looked just the same. You snapped some photos of my favorites – I brought home one of the Hellebore ‘Pink Marble’ myself. I adore Melianthus, too, but that one’s pretty easy to find here in San Diego. I can’t believe we were all there just two weeks ago!

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