It’s Spring; I need to plant something in my garden! That’s the message I’m currently receiving from HGTV. Of course, we live in Southwest Florida, so I don’t really know when Spring is!
I’m not a master gardener by any stretch of the imagination. She — the master gardener — lives about 3 houses down the street from me. Really, she does! But I do get a sense of accomplishment when I plant something and see it flourish.
Playing in Dirt is Fun!
My daughter loves to be a girly girl. Princess dresses and tiaras reign supreme in our house, but she definitely has a love of getting messy! I start our planting projects with this vision of matching sunhats and careful planting. Yeah, I know, delusional. The reality is she’s covered in dirt, laughing her head off, and trying to soak me with the hose.
I know it’s so easy to head to one of the big box stores to pick out plants and I am guilty of taking that route, too. However, I have found several locally owned plant nurseries that have exceptional service and plants. I love going to these nurseries because I feel like I’m supporting people in my community, but also because the people who work there want to teach me and help me be the best gardener I can be.
My Favorite Local Nurseries
I know this nursery seems like a hike if you live in Sarasota. Trust me, you will be glad you made the trip. The nursery is filled with gorgeous plants. I want to buy one of everything.
I have a love affair with hydrangeas, but the hard truth is that hydrangeas cannot grow in our climate. Wagon Wheel’s owner, David, broke this news to me very gently. Even when I was arguing that I keep seeing them sold at Publix, he explained that they are sold down here for holidays like Easter and Mother’s Day, but they really are not meant for our climate.
Then he helped me find flowers that can handle our year-long summers. The marigolds I brought home had flowers the size of baseballs! We also came home with butterfly weed, aka milkweed. Our milkweed had caterpillar eggs already on it. This became not only a planting project, but a science project! My daughter absolutely loved watching the eggs hatch and become caterpillars. It’s actually really important to plant butterfly weed in your yard because it’s the favorite food of monarch butterflies, which are on the endangered species list.
The directions to get to Crowley Nursery and Gardens include the phrase ‘turn off the paved road.’ In our house that constitutes an adventure! When driving there for the first time you’ll probably be asking yourself, “Am I going the right way?” and “Is this someone’s yard?” Trust me, keep going, you will not be disappointed. When you step into this nursery you feel like you’re entering a botanical garden. But this is the best kind of botanical garden because you’re allowed to touch the plants and take them home!
This nursery does not stock the type of plants you’d find at the big box stores. They specialize in exotic plants that you cannot find anywhere else. Did you know there is a variety of apple tree that can grow here? Yeah, I didn’t either! Looking for a blueberry bush? They’ve got that. But they also have citrus trees and bougainvillea. And if they don’t have it, just ask because they can get it.
And if you go make sure you check out the antique roses dating back to the 1800s! The bamboo is also a must-see. If you’re there when the wind is blowing, it sounds amazing.
My family loves Mariposa Nursery for many different reasons. They are located pretty close to our house, so we tend to frequent their rows of plants. I love the variety of plants and the unique pottery they have for sale. My daughter loves the wagons that you load your plants onto. I definitely put her to work pulling our plants around! And they have a cat who likes to hang out in the greenhouse, so we always have to look for her before we leave.
The staff is very knowledgeable. If you’re looking for a new tree for your yard, they’ll load you up on a golf cart and drive you all over the nursery to look at options. It’s a great way to see their inventory without wearing yourself out. We have purchased several palm trees from them and they are gorgeous and thriving in our yard.
Go Get Dirty!
It’s the perfect time of year to be outside. We have to enjoy these less-hot days because we all know that summer is on its way and then all we will want to do is look at plants on HGTV from the comfort of our air-conditioned houses!