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Shopper’s Diary: Flora Grubb, Now in Los Angeles

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Shopper’s Diary: Flora Grubb, Now in Los Angeles

May 5, 2023

In a time when big box stores seem to outnumber independents, it’s cause for celebration when a new indie nursery opens its doors. Even more exciting when the shop is owned by Flora Grubb.

Photography by Caitlin Atkinson, courtesy of Flora Grubb.

Grubb restored the \197\2 building and put in beautiful front doors built out of reclaimed wood from water tanks in Marin by Ghostown Woodworks. Bismark palms (Bismarkia nobilis) flank the entrance.
Above: Grubb restored the 1972 building and put in beautiful front doors built out of reclaimed wood from water tanks in Marin by Ghostown Woodworks. Bismark palms (Bismarkia nobilis) flank the entrance.

Grubb, whose eponymous nursery in San Francisco helped set the trend for modern, foliage-forward landscapes, just put down roots in Los Angeles. Located a few minutes from the heart of Venice, the sunny locale in Marina del Rey features two acres packed with rare and unusual plants geared to the California coastal climate; chic containers; and tools and other gardening goods.

Red-blooming Grevillea ‘Spirit of Anzac’ is one of a dozen varieties of Grevillea that the nursery grows. Grevillea are prized for being very drought tolerant with big, showy flowers that are beloved by pollinators and nectar-drinking birds.
Above: Red-blooming Grevillea ‘Spirit of Anzac’ is one of a dozen varieties of Grevillea that the nursery grows. Grevillea are prized for being very drought tolerant with big, showy flowers that are beloved by pollinators and nectar-drinking birds.

“We stay away from water-hogging options in favor of plants that are appropriate for the naturally dry summers in coastal California, and periods of drought,” she says. Think: lots of graphic agaves and aloes, feathery palms, and fleshy succulents. “But we love green, leafy plants that have extravagant flowers just as much as sculptural cactus,” says Grubb, who also makes sure to stock lots of pollinator loving plants.

“We love it when our customers come in with photos and measurements so we can help them replace their front lawn or outfit their deck with plants and pottery,” says Grubb. Some plant highlights at the nursery include: variegated Agave ‘Arizona star’, evergreen shrub with tiny purple blooms Westringia wynyabbie ‘Highlight’, and Ponytail palms (Beaucarnea recurvata).
Above: “We love it when our customers come in with photos and measurements so we can help them replace their front lawn or outfit their deck with plants and pottery,” says Grubb. Some plant highlights at the nursery include: variegated Agave ‘Arizona star’, evergreen shrub with tiny purple blooms Westringia wynyabbie ‘Highlight’, and Ponytail palms (Beaucarnea recurvata).

The nursery grows the majority of the plants they sell at their Rainbow Valley Farm—from real rarities to “once-obscure plants that we like to make staples in the landscape,” she says. But their focus goes beyond aesthetics. “We have a responsibility to provide our customers with the building blocks of a resilient landscape,” she says. “California natives are a must. Plants that prove invasive must be avoided, even if customers love them and ask for them continuously.” But most of all Grubb wants the nursery to ”spark the imagination, inspire creativity, and help customers fall in love with their gardens.”

“We are so happy to work with gardening beginners,” says Grubb. “And we also work with lots of really skilled designers who are expanding their plant palette and seeking advice about plants they’re not familiar with.”
Above: “We are so happy to work with gardening beginners,” says Grubb. “And we also work with lots of really skilled designers who are expanding their plant palette and seeking advice about plants they’re not familiar with.”

To get the most out of your visit to the nursery, Grubb recommends you come prepared with the following information:

  • “Bring a few photos of your space to share with employees. We find it easiest to work with printed photos, whenever possible.”
  • “Scale can be tricky! Measure your space and the surrounding objects.”
  • “Know your light conditions in your garden. How many hours of sunlight does the spot get? Is that light bright or diffused?”
  • “While it isn’t totally necessary to know what kind of soil you have, it is helpful.”
Brahea clara is a rare and wonderful silver palm available at the nursery, shown with a collection of drought tolerant plants.
Above: Brahea clara is a rare and wonderful silver palm available at the nursery, shown with a collection of drought tolerant plants.

Flora Grubb LA is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm, at 13198 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey. For those in the LA area, the nursery is holding its grand opening celebration and sale May 27-29.

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