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Home > About Us > Nursery Philosophy

  Nursery Philosophy
"Plants Appropriate to the California Garden"

In 1979 the founders of San Marcos Growers felt there was a need for a wholesale nursery that offered a more unusual line of plants than was commonly available. As awareness of the nursery's unique product mix increased and its emphasis on drought resistant plant material was realized, it was apparent that San Marcos Growers had become known as a major source for plants appropriate to California's dry summer, wet winter mediterranean climate. For many years now we have used the statement "Plants for the California Garden" to note the appropriateness of these plants. We consider the plants we have chosen to grow to be appealing and ornamental in the garden, but they also environmentally correct. Factors, such as the constraints of our climate, the inevitability of drought and the chance of wild fire, play a major role in determining our plant palette. The use of plants such as these, that are the appropriate choice given the environmental conditions, has given rise to a new movement in California horticulture called "Sustainability". It is essentially the notion that plants are sustainable in the landscape when they are the appropriate choice at the onset of planting. While some issues of sustainability, such as choosing the proper plant stature for a given location go beyond our notion of "Appropriate for the California Garden", they are very similar concepts - plant the right plant in the right location!

The factors that shaped our plant palette

In the late 1980's and early 1990's western gardeners were faced with the assurance that the future held continued water shortages. San Marcos Growers, with its already plentiful supply of water thrifty plants, added many new items to increase the plant palette for the dry California garden. Through our own educational field days and various symposiums, we spotlight and promote plant material appropriate to the drought prone California garden.

Fire is an intrinsic part of the California landscape. It is both a force of destruction and awe. In many communities the threat of fire has created city or county codes dictating how one builds their house and what can be planted around it. San Marcos Growers has long been concerned with this issue and in 1984 was involved with other Santa Barbara landscape professionals in starting Firescape. Firescape is a demonstration garden of fire resistant plants, planting concepts and landscape alternatives appropriate to the gardens where fire is a threat. In 1990, after the nursery and much of Santa Barbara was threatened by the disastrous Painted Cave Fire, San Marcos Growers drew on the plant lists developed in the Firescape project to help our customers replant the blackened landscapes in our foothills.

The Plants
Ultimately it is the plants that we are drawn to - we grow over 1,500 different plants, which range for the xeriphytic to the subtropical. Specialty lines include grasses, New Zealand Flax, Flowering Trees, Vines, perennials, bulbs, succulents and aquatic water plants. Each of these types of plants, even the aquatic ones, can find a niche in the garden where they can be considered "appropriate" and "sustainable". Another specialty line we offer are plants from areas with a mediterranean climate which includes California, South Africa, mediterranean sea basin, Western and South Australia and Chile. These plants feel like they are right at home in our California gardens.

Our Role in the Industry
San Marcos Growers recognizes that it plays an important role in the introduction of new plant material into the California nursery trade. The nursery belongs to numerous Botanic Garden Associations, both here and abroad, and has horticultural contacts throughout the world. Representatives from the nursery are active in trade and professional organizations such as the California Association of Nurserymen, California Landscape Contractors Association, International Plant Propagators Society, American Association of Botanic Gardens and Arboreta, and the Perennial Plant Growers Association.