SILVER LAKE: On a congested, busy street, on an even busier corridor that connects East Hollywood to Silver Lake, sits Sunset Nursery like a lush oasis in the city. This mom n’ pop, family-owned since 1959, is a microcosm of the earth’s natural wonders.
In the front, you’ll find American and European perennials. In the middle are tropical and semi-tropical plants. Soon after, a desert landscape emerges with a huge variety of cacti, succulents and California natives. Beyond that, there are wall climbers, ivies and a rainbow of bougainvillea. Rounding out the landscape in the back are trees of every variety. The sides feature my favorites: organic veggie seedlings and rare, otherworldly plants and flowers from the far reaches of the globe.
So how does a novice navigate this foreign and at times, overwhelming world of greenery? While the selection is top notch in terms of variety and quality, the best thing about Sunset Nursery is the staff. They offer helpful, no-question-is-too-stupid-to-ask service that’s comforting and and reassuring.
When I first explored growing my own fruit and veggies, I literally told staff member Jose, “I don’t know anything about planting. What’s the easiest plant to start with?” He asked about my yard, how much watering and sun it gets and pointed me to beautiful varieties of lettuce, thyme, rosemary, zucchini, cucumber and one leafy, tiny tomato plant.
Exactly 3 months after planting my tomato plant, I went back to Sunset Nursery to buy 2 tomato cages because my tiny sapling had turned into a giant, fruitful Amazon with tomatoes that would make Whole Foods blush.