Magazine article Sunset

Gary Hammer: Desert to Jungle Nursery

Magazine article Sunset

Gary Hammer: Desert to Jungle Nursery

Article excerpt

Ten gIobe-trotting adventurers are discovering plants in the West and abroad that you can grow

* First came figs, olives, and oleanders. Padres brought these "exotics" west from Spain to plant in their missions. Then came cuttings of such garden treasures as Harison's yellow rose; pioneers brought them west in their wagons as reminders of homes left behind. And gradually, with each new settler, the Western plant palette began to expand beyond existing vegetation and crops grown by Native Americans. But deliberate plant pioneering-the systematic search of the world for unfamiliar plants to enhance our gardens-began in earnest in the 1850s. . To feed the West's growing nursery business, plant fanciers started traveling the globe in search of horticultural surprises. By 1860, William Walker of San Francisco was offering seeds of Australian plants. Acacias and eucalyptus soon became familiar sights in Western gardens. Today the search continues. Devoted nurserymen, collectors from arboretums and botanic gardens, and amateurs with time and resources are venturing into wild places seeking new species, new flower colors. Of the many plant pioneers traveling the globe, we introduce you to 10 who have helped expand the selection of garden plants in our nurseries.



Gary Hammer grew up in Southern California surrounded by plant lovers. His grandfather and uncle owned nurseries, so it was only fitting that he would follow them into the profession. After graduating with a horticulture degree, he was temporarily sidetracked by a job installing commercial landscapes.

At the time, though, he was living on a property that was partially zoned for commercial trade, so he opened up a small retail business called Glendale Paradise Nursery. …

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