A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in – what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.
– Victor Hugo, French poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights campaigner, and leader of the Romantic movement in France, from Les Misérables
I have been going to Annie’s Annuals (740 Market Avenue, Richmond, CA 94801, 510.215.3301) exclusively to purchase my flowers for a few years now. Looking for new inspiration, I decided to go to a couple of nurseries that I hadn’t gone to in a long time and ones that are much closer to me than Annie’s Annuals. Good thing. Not only did I find healthy plants at good prices, but I also found garden treasures.
Westbrae Nursery (1272 Gilman Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94706, 510.526.5517) is located in north Berkeley and a short 10-minute drive for me. The nursery has a great selection of bushy, healthy-looking plants. Scattered throughout the lot is beautiful pottery for container gardens and inside is a great selection of wall art and artistic gifts. The staff is friendly and helpful. And I found lots of big dahlia plants.
While I have been to Flowerland (1330 Solano Avenue, Albany, CA 94706, 510.526.3550) before, I never paid much attention to the inside shop of the nursery. Surely I would have noticed such a well curated shop before, so maybe it has been renovated since I’ve been there years before. At any rate, what a wonderful surprise from the inside out.
First the garden part of Flowerland. I remember Flowerland to be much smaller, so what a pleasant surprise to see the vegetable section, a wide array of terra-cotta pottery, brightly colored bistro tables and chairs. And a retro airstream trailer that has been converted to a café called Local 123 that serves coffee, tea and ice pops.
The shop itself is charming, reminding me of the eclectic shops in places like Wicker Park in Chicago and Brooklyn. Earthy jewelry, terrariums and succulents, vintage-inspired toys, garden books, greeting cards, miniature garden accessories, gardening tools, vases, and more! My photos don’t do the shop justice, so you’ll have to go in and take your time in the tiny but packed shop. My only complaint is that staff could have been friendlier. But when you find unexpected treasures, once you’re home with them and have found a place in the garden for your gem, that’s all that matters.