Annie's Annuals

Gladiolus alatus
Gladiolus alatus

One day in 2010, while trying desperately to find a high quality local nursery, I stumbled across Annie’s Annuals. I’ve walked through several nurseries that specialize in unusual, hard to find or exotic plants, but typically their selection is very limited and the plants extremely difficult to grow. Annie has somehow found a way to conquer both problems, the nursery has a vast selection of uncommon plants and most are easy to grow. How “uncommon”? Most of the time when I try to Google the plants that Annie sells, Annie’s Annuals is typically the site at the top of the list (and frequently the only site on the Internet actually selling that variety).  How “easy”? My typical mortality rate for new plantings from sources like Home Depot is around 10%. So far I have bought about fifty flowers from Annie’s and, with the exception of  a Lobelia speciosa that is withering before my eyes and a couple of plants that I can only blame myself for neglecting, all of them are thriving. The quality is amazing.

Annie's Annuals
Annie's Annuals

The variety of plants is also astounding. When you would be lucky to find one variety of Columbine in a big box store and maybe three varieties in most other nurseries, Annie’s Annuals has 36! Yes, her prices are a bit steep, but the quality and, ultimately, the enjoyment more than make up for the hit to my credit card. More importantly, Annie has introduced me to whole new vistas of gardening.

So with a few exceptions (a couple of roses and other flowers that I’ve kept from the previous garden along with several plants started from seed), most of the plants in my new garden are from Annie’s Annuals.


There are so many plants available at Annie's, I recommend visiting her Web site before you go to avoid "flower overload" when you wander the aisles.

(4/22/10 Update) While driving home from yet another trip to Annie’s Annuals today the thought struck me that Annie may have stumbled across the solution for how a nursery can survive in today’s horrendous market. There is no sense trying to sell the common flower varieties, the big box stores have that market cornered. A nursery could try to fit into a niche and specialize in orchids, palms, succulents or other exotic plants, but the market is very limited. You can appeal to local contractors and landscape professionals who need trees and shrubs to fill in around new homes or appeal to recent lottery winners who decide to re-landscape their property, but  both of these markets have problems. And if all of this wasn’t bad enough, there is the growing number of people who are turning away from gardening. They just don’t have the time anymore, what with updating Facebook or rerunning last night’s American Idol on YouTube.


Even if you have no need to buy any plants, the demonstration gardens at Annie's Annuals are well worth the trip.

The solution to survive in this market is to follow Annie’s path. With the big box stores having destroyed much of the nursery and garden store business and the average person losing interest in gardening, there is one market left – serious gardeners or people who want to become serious gardeners – people who are interested in high quality plants that provide both a challenge and tremendous reward. If that is the market, then Annie has hit the target right in the middle. Oh, and don’t leave out those gifted few who have a penchant for referring to plants with the correct Latin genus and species, they will be thrilled to wander the aisles and read the name tags at Annie's. But for the rest of us do not despair, for the one other thing Annie does exceptionally well is to display an engaging and informative description with each plant, even if the name is in Latin (she has a way of using words like fabulosity, zexy, bodacious, or scrumptious to describe her favorites).

And yet one more point. Annie boldly proclaims on her t-shirts that her followers are “Flower Floozies”. Not a bad logo, except that it leaves out half the population. To remedy this slight, I suggest doing a throw back to Jack Nicholson and printing up a bunch of t-shirts with, “Annie, you make me want to be a better gardener.”

BTW – Here are some great articles and videos on Annie’s Annuals: