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Hello chickpeas, and happy Wednesday!

Happyish, anyway. The content of today’s post is well, sad. The Mom-n-Pop wholesale greenhouse, Corrales Road Greenhouse, that I love here in Albuquerque is done. Gone. Finito. Lights out.

I actually don’t know if that’s true. I haven’t been able to bring myself to visit for the last few weeks. Ann, the empress of green, told me the last time I saw her that if they hadn’t found a buyer, they were shutting their doors September 1st. Next week.

It’s not a huge surprise that they’re closing. I’ve written about the decline of the wholesale plant business here in Albuquerque before, many times. They just can’t compete with Lowe’s and Home Depot.

I reread what I’d written about the local nursery vs. big box store fight, and I sound so naive. I still feel naive. I’ve never worked for a local nursery – I just buy from them.

In my small business, Good To Grow, I have access to wholesalers, which is how I came to love Corrales Road Greenhouse. A few years ago, this was a bustling, thriving business.

Prettiest flowers in town, best Poinsettias [shudders with dislike]. And of course, the nicest people. Super knowledgeable, too.

I still remember the very first time I went there. They had speakers in every greenhouse playing classical music for the plants. I thought that was magically sweet of them.

Since that day, I’ve left the radio on for my plants. I think they like listening to the community station.

Do I know exactly how the business went from thriving to closed? No. I know it had to do with hurricanes in Florida, rising fuel costs and competition from bigger suppliers. I remember when it first became difficult for them to get trucks to drive from Florida to New Mexico – it got too expensive for them.

The industry appears to be in a mess these days. Certain growers have deals with the big box stores, and the local guys are getting squeezed out. It’s sad, that’s all I can say.

I wish I had the power to change the industry, to urge Americans to think like their grandparents and do everything locally. But I know that’s not realistic.

It’s easier to buy houseplants from Home Depot and Lowe’s, and frankly, there are a lot of lazy Americans out there. Ok, maybe lazy is harsh. More like, unaware. Obtuse. Self-absorbed. Introverted. Blind. Hmmm, still too harsh?

Well, I’m not going to apologize, it’s true and we all know it. There are also shit tons of creative, intelligent, motivated and wonderful Americans out there.

Most of the smart ones about us are already shopping at growers’ markets or local nurseries. But we still go to Home Depot and Lowe’s because they are convenient and inexpensive, and some of might feel sorry for the plants there and rescue them.

But then we bring those plants home and they turn out to be infected with bugs – because they always are unless its a particularly resilient plant.

And we realize if we’d just gone to our local nursery, we could’ve gotten a higher quality plant for only a little bit more money.

Remember that guy I told you about a few months ago? He walks by my house every day with his dog, who’s not on a leash so he terrorizes the dog next door. One day he came walking down the sidewalk while I was out working in the garden. It was Spring, and my Delphiniums were tall and bright green. He sees me, stops, looks at the plants, and asks me, “Is this a plant?”

It was such a hard moment for me. I thought, really? You don’t know what a plant is? Do you know what a tree is?

I smiled and told him yes, and that in a few months it would be covered with purple flowers. I have no idea if he knows what flowers are.

No one taught him any better. No one instilled a love of Nature into him. It’s shameful.

See? I told you this was a sad post. I’ll be back manana with something more cheerful.

Hi rosettes, and happy Tuesday!

Today I’m adding to the list of my favorite local nurseries. Locals know I couldn’t go too long without spotlighting Plants of the Southwest – it’s a longtime iconic favorite.

For those of you outside Albuquerque, in my mind, I’m imagining reaching out my hand to you and saying, “Come along, won’t you, while I show you this pretty place?” In my mind, you smile, take my hand and respond, “Well, of course!” Then you go on to tell me how beautiful I am, how funny I am, and how much you enjoy reading  my posts even though you’ve never even been to Albuquerque. Haha, my fantasies are pretty elaborate!

Enough about me, let’s talk about why this nursery ROCKS. They are headquartered in Santa Fe, but have had this nursery in Albuquerque forever. It’s on the busy north 4th Street, just north of Osuna. It’s like an oasis in the city.

See how welcoming it is, right from the get-go? I never tire of coming here.

Hey mr_subjunctive, look! Everything is clearly identified and priced. EVERYTHING! It’s astonishing, I know.

I told Louis, one of the employees, that one of my favorite aspects of the nursery was the clean wide paths and the signs everywhere. He looked at me like I was pretty weird. That’s ok, mr_s and I know how nice that is – we’ve talked about how some nurseries fail to see the importance of being organized. It’s refreshing to walk into a business and easily be able to identify the plants and the prices.

At Plants of the Southwest, the pathways seem to go on and on, and each of them lead to someplace wonderful.

I love looking at desert plants, like the tall, exotic Ocotillo in the middle of that shot. I guess that’s because I grew up in Indiana. There’s not a lot about Indiana that’s exotic.¹

These Desert Willow blossoms have a sweet scent, very rich like melted sugar. Not everything in the desert has thorns.

Whoa! What’s this? You’re a customer, and innocently walking along one of the many paths in the nursery, and you come around a bend and boom! The path has led somewhere enchanting.

Why not have a charming little structure for people to hang out in?

Uh-oh. Once inside, I realized why my eyes were burning and itching at the same time. All those white clumps stuck on the branches? Cotton. I high-tailed it out of there.

Still, if I were a kid and my parents were shopping, this is where I would hang out until they were done.

The employees I talked with were knowledgeable and sweet. I was asked three times, by three different employees, if I needed help finding anything. That was really cute – very polite and not all up in your grill. It wasn’t just me – I was there a long time, and I watched as they checked on all the customers.

Those of you familiar with my obsession for vertical gardens will appreciate how much I would love to see these ice plants decorating my living room wall.

Am I the only one who loves anything that plumes? When my good friend Lynda was here a few weeks ago, I couldn’t remember the name of this plant. But duh, it’s Apache Plume. That’s three out of four, right, Lynda?

Way in the back of the nursery is their edible landscape. Louis identified a number of the plants for me, but I was busy admiring the view. It was hard to believe I was in the middle of a bustling city.

Haha, I said bustling city with a straight face. Albuquerque’s still the wild, wild west. The North Valley, where this nursery is located, is very rural. There are lots of farms and feed stores, orchards and gardens.

As I was gathering my plants (yeah, like I could spend that much time at a nursery and not buy a single plant, whatev), I noticed these adorable herb gardens. Some were medicinal herb gardens, others were mixed salad herbs. So cute.

Plants of the Southwest is definitely one of the best nurseries in Albuquerque. We’re lucky to have them here. Thanks, guys, for all you do!

That does it for this edition of the Good To Grow site. I’ll be back tomorrow with a new story filed under The Plant Lady Chronicles. Until then, happy gardening!

——————-

¹ Insert your own dancer joke here. Oh, you did already? Right.

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About Me

Hi! My name is Liza. Welcome to my blog and thanks for visiting! I'm a Midwestern gal now living in Arizona, after many years of living in and owning a plant care business in New Mexico.

Plants are living, breathing creatures, and if they're indoor plants, they are 100% dependent on human care. They cannot water themselves.

I can beautify your home, office, or patio with plants and flowers. I have 13 years of experience growing plants, and friendships.

Please let me know if you have questions or if you would like help with your plants or garden. You can reach me at lizatheplantlady (at) gmail (dot) com or follow me on Twitter, Lizawheeler7.

All photos are mine unless otherwise noted. All content is also entirely my hard work. If you'd like to use any content or photos, all you have to do is ask. If you take without asking, you are a thief. And thieves suck. So don't suck. We have a deal? Good.

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