Shopping at a hardware store nursery can be hit-or- miss. You might be stuck with run-of-the-mill bedding plants and generic pottery. Or, if it’s like Miner’s Ace Hardware, you could uncover some surprises.
Each of the five Miner’s locations has a nursery — including the San Luis Obispo store that is set to open later this spring in the building formerly occupied by Pacific Coast Home and Garden.
Each nursery center offers something different. According to Atascadero nursery manager Debbi Arnold, this is because the locally owned chain of stores allows each nursery manager to tailor its inventory to its own specific clientele.
In Atascadero, for instance, Arnold stocks the garden center with plants that withstand the many assaults that North County gardens are subject to, including winter freezes, summer heat, and ravenous deer. It also offers plants for fire-resistant landscapes.
“Gardeners here have a lot to deal with,” she said. “If you can get something to grow here, it’s more than likely going to grow in the South County as well.”
The nursery is offering more perennials these days, including California natives, as budget-conscious gardeners transition away from labor and water-intensive annuals.
“You have your basic plants in there year after year, then you can fill in with annuals if you wish,” Arnold said.
Edible landscapes are another money-saving trend, something Arnold likens to the victory gardens that flourished during World War II. Consequently, she has brought in more vegetables and dwarf fruit trees this year.
“It’s easier to do now— you don’t even need a large space,” she said. “You can live in an apartment and have tomatoes growing upside down on the patio.”
Garden art and pottery are plentiful at Miner’s. Fountains are a particular favorite of Arnold’s because she believes “every garden should have a water feature.”
The selection of garden art is eclectic, which is partly due to diverse local tastes, and partly a reflection of each nursery manager’s personal preferences.
“You won’t find lot of beachy stuff here, but you will in Morro Bay. Here, you’ll find cowboy stuff that you won’t find in other stores,” she said.
Along with Western garden art, the Atascadero store offers Mexican Talavera, Celtic dragons and fairies, and Asian pieces like pagodas and goddesses. Arnold likes to throw in a few whimsical items—a gnome or a meditating zen frog, for instance — just to lighten things up. And they happily special order garden art if a customer is looking for something specific.
Throughout the year, Miner’s holds special sale events in its garden center. The next is the Garden Extravaganza on April 10, where every nursery item is 20 percent off at all Miner’s stores.
The Atascadero Miner’s Ace Hardware is at 9370 El Camino Real, 466- 0270. For a listing of all locations, visit www.minershardware.com.