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The garden center, done right

Every turn on Route 193 outside Placerville, Calif. seemed steeper and tighter the further up the mountain I got. Around each corner, a new ravine dropped below me, while just parallel with the car, hawks let the updrafts off the foothills buffet them one way, then another. Other than the Chili Bar – which is, I might add, a river rafting place rather than an eatery – there were no signs of businesses anywhere.

Trey and MonicaMapquest had sent me up the dramatic two-lane on my way to visit The Golden Gecko Garden Center, home of Trey, The Blogging Nurseryman, and his wife, Monica. I’ve been reading Trey since I started blogging, and have commented on his posts about how nurseries run their businesses. “If I’m ever out in Northern California,” I emailed him, “I’ll have to stop by and visit.”

Just at the point when I thought there was no way I would be able to find the center without making a phone call, there was the correct turn, and then, there it was, tucked behind a video store at the intersection of Marshall Road and Black Oak Mine Road in Garden Valley.

I know this is going to sound like I’m just sucking up to my new offline friends, but people, this garden center made me drool. From the thoughtfully-arranged groupings of plants to The pondless waterfallthe pondless waterfall to the creek along the back of the property to the Guacamole Hut (Headquarters of all kid-sized activities) to the soon-to-grow flower cutting garden, the place doesn’t just invite you to shop, it invites you to relax and stay awhile.

“Does this look like your garden center back in Iowa City?” Trey asked.

“No way,” I said. “Everything there is in a big, crowded greenhouse.”

I must at least qualify this with a note that the weather in Iowa is significantly different from the weather in Northern California, particularly this time of year. It’s windows-down driving weather here, and while Trey told me how hot it gets in the summer in the El Dorado Valley, that’s hard to believe when the perfect temperatures and infinitely blue sky invite you to lie down in the grass somewhere and get lost in your own thoughts.

Still, it’s clear from every little detail of The Golden Gecko, and from how much fun Trey and Monica seemed to be having — even on what’s usually their day away from the place – that this center, which just celebrated its third anniversary, is the special spot that they’ve dreamed of creating. If I had a garden center near me with twenty percent of the ambience and personality that theirs has, I would spend an awful lot more money on plants and accoutrements.

Oh, and Trey would have me tell you that you don’t have to take 193 to get up there – there are less death-defying drives. But I will say this: it’s the most stunning commute I’ve ever seen.

Update: Trey’s take on yesterday’s events has been posted, too, so please check it out!

10 Comments on “The garden center, done right”

  1. #1 Official Gardening Supply Site » Blog Archive » Organic Indoor Gardening - The Third Roses
    on May 22nd, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    [...] The garden center, done rightTrey and Monica Mapquest had sent me up the dramatic two-lane on my way to visit The Golden Gecko Garden Center, home of Trey, The Blogging Nurseryman, and his wife, Monica. I ve been reading Trey since I started blogging, … [...]

  2. #2 chigiy
    on May 22nd, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    Genie,
    Next time you’re in Northern California let me know.
    I love to show you the bay area, the Santa Cruz Mountains
    and many wonderful nurseries.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the Placerville area.

  3. #3 inadvertentgardener
    on May 22nd, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    Chigiy, I appreciate the invitation! I will keep you posted, and when I’m back, I will definitely give you the good word.

  4. #4 kate
    on May 22nd, 2007 at 10:01 pm

    What a good trip that must have been! I wish there was a garden centre like this one nearer to me!

  5. #5 Christina
    on May 22nd, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    What a great sounding garden center, and what a special find. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  6. #6 inadvertentgardener
    on May 23rd, 2007 at 9:09 am

    Kate, I wish I had one closer, too — Trey and Monica are terrific!

    Christina, I’m so glad to be able to share it. It’s a fabulous place.

  7. #7 Annie in Austin
    on May 23rd, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    We’ve seen the photos of the Golden Gecko, Genie, so we know you’re not sucking up… just reporting accurately! It sounds like a great day for all of you.

    Annie

  8. #8 Tomato on a chain « The Inadvertent Gardener
    on May 28th, 2007 at 12:07 am

    [...] fact solicited funny looks from Trey and Monica when I visited their Most Excellent Garden Center a week ago, but so be it. I want to see if it’s possible, and isn’t a hanging basket full of [...]

  9. #9 David Williams
    on Feb 11th, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    And now it is our local garden center. Lucky us!

  10. #10 inadvertentgardener
    on Feb 15th, 2013 at 11:22 am

    David, indeed! I’m so glad you found it!

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