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Festive East Bay Art, Garden & Nursery Day

Cheryl and I took a trip to the East Bay today. Her friends Heidi and George of Garden Delights Arts & Crafts were having a Holiday Gift & Art sale at their home in El Cerrito.

After, we headed to Flowerland Nursery in Albany, followed by lunch at Cactus Taqueria.

Late Lunch at Cactus Taqueria

Late Lunch at Cactus Taqueria

This was Cheryl’s maiden Flowerland voyage! Having recently discovered this fabulous nursery myself, I was happy for a chance to go back… especially at Christmas time.

The nursery was beautifully decked out for Christmas. In addition to the usual offerings, they had a friendly popcorn vendor serving herb-seasoned and cinnamon popcorn, piped Christmas music, fresh-cut Christmas trees, poinsettias, teeny little evergreens, amaryllis bulbs, paperwhites, Christmas greeting cards, and cool ornaments galore. The energy was bustling and festive.

I scoped out a few Christmas trees, which, by the way, are individually named. Cute and clever touch. I’m so looking forward to a return trip to Flowerland next week.

On our way back to the car, we stopped for the inevitable flower and garden pics. The fun thing about going out with a gardener friend is that he or she typically has the patience of a saint when it comes to picture-taking.

A Sweet Surprise: ‘Route 66’ Coreopsis


I went out early this morning to hand-water a few newly-planted seedlings, and found a surprise on my front porch– two 4″ blooming ‘Route 66’ Coreopsis starts! I was genuinely puzzled because, upon inspecting the tag, I noticed they came from Emerisa Gardens, a wholesaler that doesn’t deliver to Sacramento nurseries. This discovery took place during my pre-coffee fog, so I didn’t put two and two together until I went back inside and told Kim about the mystery plants on our front porch.

He then revealed that he had stopped by Flowerland in Albany on his way to Oakland yesterday afternoon. Sweet! And completely unexpected. What’s even sweeter is that he tried to find the ‘Redshift’ Coreopsis I had admired on a previous visit to Flowerland. Both ”Redshift’ and ‘Route 66’ have a red to yellow color shift that makes this fall bloomer pretty exciting to me. Click here for a profile of ‘Route 66’ in Fine Gardening.

I admit, I’m easily entertained. My mom told me that when I was little, I could amuse myself with things of nature… dandelions… ladybugs… “for hours”. Doesn’t surprise me. It’s probably why I still think or say, “Ooh, hummingbird” every time one visits my feeder. You’d think the novelty of nature would wear off at my age, but nope.

Ooh, hummingbird! Ooh, ‘Route 66’ Coreopsis! Pit-tee birdy. Pit-tee fower!

‘Redshift’ Coreopsis

Why didn’t I buy this amazing Coreopsis when I was at Flowerland? I suppose it’s because I’m cheap and it was in a one-gallon container. I should have factored in the cost of pain and suffering from kicking myself over and over for not bringing this beautiful jagged-edged, color-shifting hippie plant home.


Visit to Flowerland Nursery in Albany, CA

“You are the garden”, professes the entry marquee at Flowerland Nursery in Albany, CA. Heck, yeah, I am. I am often in need of weeding, have untapped potential, and every now and then in the right light and after a lot more work than should be necessary, am tinged with loveliness.


This was my first visit to Flowerland Nursery, another wonderful East Bay nursery with a unique hook– its own airstream trailer coffee shop on site. The coffee shop is operated by Local 123, serving espresso, coffee and pastries. Being able to buy coffee and plants in one place is a marriage of two of my favorite things in life. Add in the mellow music and delicious gluten-free peanut butter cookie I bought and I am one happy camper.

Flowerland is a magical place. My hurried phone pics don’t do the place justice. I’d love to see the nursery in the early morning or late afternoon when the light is softest; I must return with the intent to have no intent.

We visited on a Friday, a time when many nursery workers have that frenzied, “gearing up for the weekend” look. Believe me, I know the feeling. Customers also tend to be task-oriented on Fridays at many nurseries.

“Gotta get those bags of mulch before the party!”
“Gotta replace that broken hose!”
“Gotta feed those tomatoes!”

Gardening can sometimes feel like a chore, and it can take on an edge of competitiveness at times; It needn’t. At Flowerland, I’ve never seen a more mellow-looking group of employees and customers. It’s a place where you can buy stuff to feed your plants, but it’s also a place where you can feed your soul; where you can sit down in the retro chair of your choice and just chill the heck out. Catch up with a friend. Read a book.

A great big thanks to East Sac Edible for recommending this gem of a nursery. I can’t believe it didn’t register on my usually keen nursery radar before now. An added bonus is that it only took about an hour and nineteen minutes to get there from my house. (more…)