Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Run, do not walk

to Gowanus Nursery in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Tucked in between the BQE and the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, the nursery's lush foliage, colorful blooms, and ripe fruit stand out against the surrounding industrial architecture, emphasizing the oasis that is Gowanus.

Everyone who gardens in this city knows it's tough to navigate the freight elevators, double parking, and garbage disposal. And what about the PLANTS? The high cost of NYC real estate means that most city garden centers and nurseries are small, allocating bench space to only the most popular, sure-to-sell plants. What if you want something that isn't an impatiens or a petunia or a geranium? Something that an educated, experimental gardener might find irresistible...

Gowanus specializes in unusual plants: annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, and vines (and a few tempting tropicals at the back of the garden). Show me a big box store or a shop in the Plant District where you can find Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed), Aconitum carmichaelii (monkshood), or Anemonella thalictroides (rue anemone). No can do! (And those are just the A's!)

Michele Paladino, the owner and driving force behind Gowanus, has a strong aesthetic and sense of design; both are apparent the moment you step into the nursery. She chooses everything she sells and sells only what she loves. Michele also has the wisdom to hire a dedicated, friendly, and well-informed staff who eagerly and tirelessly provide tech support for everything they sell. These are REAL gardeners, with dirt under their fingernails and pine pitch in their hair.

I admit, Gowanus isn't the easiest nursery to get to if you don't have a car. It IS acessible by public transportation, but who wants to lug loads of plants (and you WILL buy loads of plants) on the subway? Here's my solution: call a car service. For about $40 you get door to door service for yourself and your plants. If you're buying for a client, that's a reasonable delivery fee. If you're shopping for yourself, make sure you buy enough to make the trip worthwhile. It won't be difficult.

Going to Gowanus Nursery is worth a little extra effort. The prices are competitive, the service is exceptional, and the plants will knock your socks off. Chosen with city gardeners in mind, they are well maintained and sold with conscience (no hard sell here, they really try to help you choose plants that are right for your garden). You'll get more than great plants at Gowanus Nursery. The education and inspiration you'll find there are priceless.


Frank said...

My review is a little aged now, but I think it still stands. Gowanus is the best nursery out of the three in the area.

Gowanus' prices are right, because I would rather spend 7 dollars on a small perennial than 19 on a gallon size! I can get three plants for the price of one. If I want something less ordinary, I'll go there. Otherwise I stick with my corner nusery, J&L, for the ordinary stuff.

Me old review:

Ellen Zachos said...

Thanks for the link, NYCG. I think your comparison is fair & balanced, and like you, I'm glad there's a nursery in the city that focuses on more unusual plants.

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