Bay Area Nurseries
I have wandered through so many nurseries and gardening stores over the years that there is no sense in even trying to count them. The vast majority were duds: big box stores with standardized, commercialized and unexciting plants; mom and pop operations that made a valiant effort, but still did not have enough selection to be dependable resources; and high end retail establishments that focused on a clientele that would be revolted by dirty fingernails. In the end I have found only two places that I would call a gardeners’ heaven.
The first is the Half Moon Bay Nursery.  During the fifteen years that I lived in Half Moon Bay (1983 – 1998), I must have bought thousands of plants at the nursery and frittered away a good portion of my wealth. No matter what time of year, it was always a joy to walk through the aisles and see the abundant selection of common and exotic plants.  After we moved to Tampa I spent the next eleven years walking through garden stores in misery, because none of them could come close to what I had left in Half Moon Bay.
Half Moon Bay Nursery. After eleven years lost in Florida I could not control my glee.
I’ve now moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area, but, regretfully, the Half Moon Bay Nursery is too far away to meet my continuing needs, especially as I plant my new garden. I looked around the East Bay near my new home in Richmond and found several good resources, including the Berkeley Horticultural Nursery, which has an excellent selection, but horrendous parking. I admit it, I’m picky about nurseries. When I go shopping for plants, I want instant gratification. And if I have to drive around the block five times to find a parking space, the “bloom is off the rose” figuratively and literally by the time I walk into the nursery. Except in rare situations, I find it just isn’t worth the effort to go there.
Then, by chance, I stumbled across Annie’s Annuals. I’ve walked through several nurseries that specialize in exotic plants, but usually 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 unusual plants and most are easy to grow. How “unusual”? 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. More on Annie's Annuals