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Meander around a nursery with a different point of view

The nursery grounds include meandering paths and a dry creek bed.
The nursery grounds include meandering paths and a dry creek bed.

David Curiel has owned Old Town Garden Center in Orcutt for five years. So when Nipomo’s Old Town Nursery closed its gates last year, he saw an opportunity.

“The area needed an independent nursery that’s fully stocked,” he said.

Before reopening the nursery in June, Curiel and his staff spent four months sprucing up the landscap ing and renovating the gift shop. The nursery stocks a wide variety of bedding plants, shrubs, trees and edibles. But don’t come expecting to stroll down typical nursery aisles.

“We went for ambience, as opposed to the standard nursery where everything is in lines and rows,” he said.

On the nursery’s two acres, paths meander around displays that integrate nursery stock with hardscape, fountains, pottery and statuary. Shade plants are arranged under the canopies of mature trees. There is a dry creek bed lined with pots of blooming plants such as statice and begonias. Fish inhabit a small pond and a gazebo offers a place to sit and take in the serene locale.

Finding the right plant may require some exploration, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The displays offer ideas for attractive plant combinations using varied heights, textures and colors. You can see firsthand, for instance, how yellow coreopsis plays well off the russet tones of purple hopseed. Or how grasses offer a nice, neutral backdrop for cheerful blooms like rudbeckia and geranium.

Instead of focusing on one specialty, Curiel has made an effort to offer plants that appeal to a broad range of gardeners in many local climates. He also follows local trends and has observed a strong move toward water-efficient landscapes. As aresult, he has incorporated a good selection of California natives and other drought-tolerant plants including succulents, which are among his favorites.

“They require low water, little to no work, and the flowers some of them put out are just phenomenal,” he said.

Curiel is currently working on expanding his variety of succulents and plans to devote a 2,000-squarefoot area exclusively to them.

Another big garden trend is growing fruits and vegetables. Old Town Nursery offers vegetable plants and will have a broad selection of bare root fruit trees beginning in December.

Old Town Nursery welcomes special orders and delivers from Paso Robles to Santa Barbara for a fee. Old Town Nursery is at 323 W. Tefft Street in Nipomo, 929-1084. Old Town Garden Center is at 125 South Broadway in Old Town Orcutt, 937-0555.

Reach Rebecca Juretic at rajuretic@sbcglobal.net .