Home & Garden Columns
Annie’s Annuals sent me a promo e-mail a week or two back. Not spam; I’ve put my name on Annie’s mail list because I want to know when the Annies do interesting stuff.
Annie’s has been around a few years, and survived at least three moves to what should be a more secure location. Gardens, nurseries, plants in general don’t get no respect, and lots of the size Annie’s needs keep getting sold and paved over for shopping malls and bloated housing developments.
Annie’s is selling holiday tchotchkes, yes, but the main focus of this nifty cottage industry is plants. Annie’s is a fashion-starter. Plants from all over the world show up here, get grown out and tested and sold wholesale—you’ll see them showing up under their great information tags at other nurseries around the area—and, to those savvy enough to find the place, retail. They’re not cheap but the prices are fair and a good investment and they’re always interesting.
I’m personally fond of Annie’s for all sorts of reasons, including the personalities there. But the big ace bell-ringing golden reason is that this is that unfortunately rare creature, a propagating nursery. Since Annie’s does sell wholesale, plants from there get shipped around in their whole half-grown potted state but the focus is something that gets forgotten in mass marketing and Mallworld: the miracle of living things is that they produce more living things.
Annie’s doesn’t need to import a containerload of nifty Mediterranean-climate plants from South Africa, or even a truckload of California natives from down the road a piece. To propagate, you put your seed in some dirt or your cuttings in some sand, add water and kindly conditions, and wait a bit. Hallelujah, you get plants!
And when they grow up enough, look: More seeds, more cuttings, more plants! You can clone an unusual flower and have a whole patch of it. You can also get carried away and homogenize half the civic plantings in the state with it, but here’s where an interest-driven small place like Annie’s makes its own controls. Something else interesting comes along and it all just gets to be too much fun to innovate, and you can’t be bothered to devote an acre or two to baby Sameol’ dittooides.
A sense of play is vital to good work. Oh yeah.
Buying everything at Target, we get to forgetting both what resources go into cheap imported crap—what kind of insanity drives international trade as it exists now, and how can we bear to let it destroy what we love?—and how generous the living planet actually is.
We get air and water and wonderful things to eat and drink and see and smell and hear and feel, and we actually have to do very little to “earn” it. We can have the fun stuff like coffee and chocolate, even; importing doesn’t have to happen in the destructive, wasteful way it does now. All we have to do is, first, not screw it up.