Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A visit to Southlands Nursery

As soon as we started talking about visiting Vancouver BC one of the places I knew I wanted to see was Southlands Nursery. Founded by Thomas Hobbs the author of the books The Jewel Box Garden and Shocking Beauty, I figured this nursery had to be a pretty special place.
After completing our visit to the UBC Botanical Gardens we grabbed a bit of lunch (not an easy thing to locate in this upper class ‘equestrian pocket’ on Vancouver’s Westside…a very apt description borrowed from the Southland’s website...so in other words don't go there hungry) and headed for the nursery.
Owing to the fact I knew I wouldn’t be able to take any plant material home I was a little concerned about what treasures I may find. However since it is my ‘job’ to report to you the nurseries I discover in my travels I left my wallet in the car and bravely marched on (see the personal sacrifices I make for my loyal danger garden readers?)! The tree ferns were my first crush, although at a hefty $299 I wasn’t feeling much temptation.

These Eucomis vandermerwei were pulling at my heartstrings though. Just look at the fabulous color!

It was a nice feeling to see these Disporum cantoniense and know I’ve already got one!
Maybe next year I’ll take the Lobelia tupa plunge.
The always sexy foliage of a Melianthus major.
And right about here is where I started to feel a little faint.

Could it possibly be?
Yes. The object of extreme plant lust, a Schefflera taiwaniana right there in front of me FOR SALE!
For $69.95. Yes, SEVENTY DOLLARS (I’m sorry but I really needed to shout).

So, care to place any bets on what I did next? Did I throw all caution to the wind and scoop one up? Thinking I’d bribe the border guards or pay whatever exorbitant fees they required to get the object of my affection into the U.S.?
Or did the responsible, unemployed person in me win? Reminding me that spending $70 on a plant that you might have to leave behind at the border was maybe not such a smart thing to do?

Well I’m not proud but I left it behind. Odd that I had been conversing with the ticket person at the UBC Garden just a couple of miles away about this very plant and how much we both wanted it and here it was right in front of me. I hope he finds out they’ve got them and goes and buys one, since I did not, *sigh*

Moving on…nice Euphorbia collection (god I wanted that Schefflera).
Their succulent collection was small but of good quality. Quite affordable too. (And a note to any of my Portland readers who may find themselves enamored of those metal pots with the numbers on them...they are available at Garden Fever!)

Agave weberi 'Arizona Star'
Agave desmettiana.
Agave attenuata.
Moving inside their retail building (and still thinking about the Schefflera)…

I’ve never been much of a Staghorn Fern fan.
But these Platycerium alcicorne/Staghorn Fern really captured my imagination.
I really wanted this container. Not as much as the Schefflera mind you but still quite a bit. But guess what…it cost even more than the Schefflera! At $75 it remained behind.
Back outdoors they were in fall decorating mode.
There was a large greenhouse off the parking lot which had a few interesting Agaves and other succulents inside.
Unfortunately it was off limits.

The yuccas apparently are second class citizens forced to gather outside the greenhouse, not invited inside.
Hey look Tom Fischer from Portland’s Timber Press was speaking at the nursery last Saturday. Tom lives in the Portland area, I wonder if he grabbed a Schefflera? I wonder if he would have grabbed two if I would have thought to email Timber Press and beg/bribe?


  1. Nice nursery...oh man, leaving behind that schefflera must have been TORTURE! Still, I don't blame you, not worth the risk...we'll just have to keep an eye out for it locally...it's just a matter of time, right...right!?!

  2. that Schefflera, with that Monrovia pot it was in it seems like you'd be able to find it somewhere in Portland. In fact Lauren at Beyond Garden Design recently put one in after taking out her tetrapanax.

  3. Scott, time yes...but how much time? I've definitely questioned my decision several times. The agony!

    Ryan, Lauren put in a Schefflera delavayi which is also very cool. To find one as large as hers requires connections, which she has (Paul is co-owner of Xera) I've only seen a tiny one available to the public. I spoke with a Monrovia rep at the Farwest show last August and he hinted that Schefflera taiwaniana could be be widely available in 2012. He also said they released a few plants earlier this year. Those were the ‘mother plants’ they couldn’t take any more cuttings off of and still have live (at least that’s what he said).

  4. Living on the cutting edge: the agony...but the ecstasy...but the agony. Would you have it any other way?
    I fell for lobelia tupa at Dancing Oaks, where there are huge stands. Alas, I failed to make it happy...but I'm not giving up.

  5. Costs would probably be prohibitive, but don't they ship across the border? My Lobelia tupa did nothing at all this year. I couldn't stand it if this turns out to be another better-in-zone 8 plant!

    (Nice nursery tour, Loree.)

  6. Those Monrovia dudes were HOLDING OUT ON US! How are we going to get ahold of that plant? But if it's for sale somewhere, surely it will be here soon, right?

  7. Jewell Box Gardens is one of my favorite garden books. I pull it out on cold rainy winter days. I noticed that the Schefflera is in my 2011 Monrovia New Plants catalog. However, they are notorious for not having their new plants available to everyone. I am sure a garden center with the pedigree of Southland was on the A-list.

  8. I'm surprised to hear that S. taiwaniana won't be largely available until 2012, of course that is only one year. I'll email a wholesaler, who orders many plants from Monrovia, and ask when they can get it!

  9. Loree, it looks like your beloved plant will be available in May/June of next year.

  10. ricki, ha! It's about time I'm accused of being cutting edge, (hehehe)thanks! Good to hear you're not throwing in the towel on the Lobelia, yet. Could it be that pathetic summer we had just didn't make it happy?

    Denise, I'm not sure about the shipping but I'm sure you're right about the cost. However I did find out that VanDusen won't ship seeds to the US! So if they won't ship seeds imagine the red tape involved in a plant. Of course never mind that it probably actually came from Oregon! (Monrovia has an operation up here too).

    Megan, Les and Lauren came through for us! Check out their replies!

    Les, notorious huh? That's no good. But thanks for the info!

    Anon, why thank you! Do I know you? Because it sounds like I need to know you!

    Lauren, are you also Anon? Looks like I am going to have to start working the phones about April then huh? To assure one of them is mine!? God I wonder how much they are going to be asking...

  11. Schefflera taiwaniana are lovely plants, cope without problems unprotected in the UK. So keep on looking!

  12. I don't know... if it wasn't for the fact that I might have to leave it with very lucky border guards, I might have bought it myself in your situation. That is one beautiful plant, and it looks even more graceful than the regular one! I can't wait til 2012...

  13. Yes, I'm also anonymous - I didn't mean to be though...sorry!


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