FLOWERLAND I don’t know what it is about places that end in “land,” but I love them. I’m talking about places that name a thing that I love and end it in land, which equals the land of the thing that I love. When I was a kid and just started driving, I spent $600 on a 1960 American Rambler. We called it the Pambler. It was a giant hunk of steel – all bench seating. I could fit nine of my friends and I pretty comfortably – and we rambled. A lot. We often rambled past a place called Donutland. You see – one of my favorite things turned into a land! I never got to go, but Playland by the beach in San Francisco, but I imagine it was everything I would want a land of play to be. So imagine my delight when I walked into Flowerland Nursery last week. It’s a land of nursery enchantment!
Flowerland Nursery on Solano Avenue in Albany has been a nursery forever. The architecture suggests it opened in the 1950s or 60s. The original signage is such a treasure, you can’t wait to see what’s inside. And, wowie! what a fantastic experience once you go in. Before I talk about the wonders of this little east bay nursery, I have to say I tried going to Flowerland when I first started working in the east bay a million years ago, and it seemed like it was in decline – my coworker described it as random and rundown. I thought then that someone with a vision should take over and bring it back to its original glory. I never went back until now.
Lo and behold, new owners took over Flowerland nursery about four years ago – and I didn’t get the memo. I’m sorry I was late to the party, but I plan on going back to this east bay treasure regularly. It’s hard to say what I like most about Flowerland because I didn’t see anything I didn’t like, but I’ll give it a go.
For starters, you’re walking around in a little piece of local history. It’s harder and harder to find original, neighborhood nurseries, especially any this awesome – and this one is right on Solano Avenue. I already mentioned the original signage. The folks at Flowerland have fine tuned the design of the nursery seamlessly around the awesome original details. The nursery and store are designed well and you just get the feeling that everything is where it should be. Café lights have been added to the original metal shade structures – it seems like they close at 5.30, so I’ll have to wait until winter to see them all lit up.
Need a coffee or a snack? The Local 123 airstream has a permanent spot in the nursery and the airstream fits in flawlessly with the vibe of the nursery. Who doesn’t want to make their garden wish list while sipping a latte?
I really love the organization of the space. It isn’t a huge nursery by any stretch of the imagination, but they cover all of the bases. There is a focus on food producers, from veggies, to herbs, to fruit trees. They have one of the best selections of heirloom tomatoes going. This is the year I decided to try growing tomatoes in San Francisco again. I planted the tried and true early girls, but I couldn’t resist heirloom tomatoes with names like ‘Bloody Butcher’ Lots of varieties that are particularly well-suited to the zone 17 east bay climate. The in-house signage is informative and vintage-inspired.
The plant material is great! They have an eye for interesting and unique They also have a large selection of 4” plant material – and all are reasonably priced. My favorite scores of the day were a 4” Fuchsia procumbens and a 4” Rhodochiton astrosanguieum, two plants I’ve been searching for FOREVER. Also, a big shout-out to Annie’s Annuals for growing funky plants!
The “store” portion of Flowerland nursery is darling, and hosts a bevy of begonias, bromeliads and other interesting houseplants. They have great gardening tools and organic fertilizers. And if you’re into terrariums, this is your place. They have lots of miniature plants – and miniatures to create your own scenes. So much fun. They appear to have an olive oil program – bring your own bottle and they’ll fill it for you. I’m not sure of the origin of the olive oil – but how awesome is that? The shop is a perfect place to shop for the green thumbs in your life. I haven’t even mentioned the perfect, omnipresent nursery dog!
If you find yourself in east bay and are in the mood for retail therapy of the flora variety – head on down to Flowerland Nursery on Solano Avenue in Albany. You won’t be disappointed!