Flora Grubb Gardens, San Francisco

Monica and I headed down to San Francisco Monday to check things out. I wanted to stop and visit a new garden center I had read about in Garden Design Magazine. Flora Grub Gardens is located just off 3rd St. on Jerrold Ave. It is a new facility that just opened in May. The gardens are named after the owner who moved from Texas during the dot com era. After that fell apart she started doing landscape design and then opened Guerrero Street Gardens Nursery.Now they have opened this facility.

Located in a warehouse district you have to look for this place. Surrounded by a tall metal fence a necessity in this part of town, the nursery is shinny and new. A metal roof covers most of the nursery and there is parking inside, but only 5 or 6 spaces, so like a lot of city businesses you park on the street. As you approach the store you realize palms are king here as there are some very large specimens growing in the ground as well as in containers.

This is a store about plants with dramatic or interesting foliage. Most of them would not grow in the foothills where we are. This is a frost free area and tropical and sub-tropical's abound. I didn't recognize many of them. Cactus and succulents are everywhere including displayed around this old car which may or may not have been sitting on the property when they built this place. There is the requisite coffee shop, "Ritual Coffee" which is located in the store. The store is airy and filled with books to look at. The fertilizer section has maybe five types of organics, and that's it. A small high end tool selection rounds out the conventional garden supplies.

What's interesting to me is this store is run by someone relatively new to the garden center business. Just like Surf City Nursery in Santa Cruz the owners are new to the trade and that's important. It seems to me that some of the most interesting new garden centers are run by folks who don't have any preconceived notions about what makes a great garden center. Who says you need every type of fertilizer and pesticide on your shelves? I saw one organic pesticide in the shop and that's it.

This store is focused on what they do well, which is lots, and lots of containers and plants with interesting or dramatic foliage. The flower section and soil amendments almost seemed like an afterthought. Is this the future of garden center retailing? Focus on a few core products and skills and drop the rest? I would suspect that if you're interested in this kind of look there is no other nursery in S.F. that does it this well.