“People right now are being very cautious about what they plant because of the recent economic downturn and worries about a possible drought,” said Perez. “People are looking for ways to save water while still having the gardens and yards they want.”
And they’re doing it in a variety of ways. From container gardening (“very popular right now, and requires much less water than in the ground plantings,” said Perez) to shade trees, and a return to the easy-to-grow California drought-tolerant, succulent plants, people aren’t giving up their gardens; they’re just getting more creative in their choices.
“Everyone is just looking for ways to stretch their dollars right now, and we’re here to help them do it,” said Perez. “People are shopping for drought-tolerant alternatives, and great ideas are the California Lilacs (good for ground cover), manzanita and rock roses, as well as the colorful geraniums and nemesia. There are so many different ways to have a wonderful garden that doesn’t take a lot of water or cost a fortune. Shade trees are also very popular. They’re fast growing and offer good coverage.”
The most popular new trend, however, is actually an old standby: the Victory Garden. In recent years, people haven’t been as interested in growing vegetables – partly because they require more time and maintenance – but with the turn in the economy, Perez says she’s noticed her vegetable plants are flying off their palettes nearly faster than she can replace them.
“Lots of vegetables – we’re seeing lots of vegetables,” she said. “Tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, all the herbs, people are definitely looking to plant their vegetable gardens. Yes, they require more tending and more water, but they produce, and that’s a value people are looking for right now.”
And she should know. The family-owned-and-operated business has been a mainstay in East County for more than 18 years. Recently relocated from its Sunset Road location to the 10-acre growing grounds on Walnut Boulevard in Brentwood, Perez Nursery is all about customer-service. And while the nursery works with commercial as well as residential customers, Perez takes special delight in helping homeowners create their own garden paradise.
“My main thing has always been the basic homeowner,” she said. “I love to help them create the yard or garden they want – that’s very satisfying.”
Everyone can have a green thumb, said Perez. They just need to give it a try. Easy-to-follow tips include not over-watering the lawn (“10 minutes in the morning and evening, that’s all”), fertilizing (“once a month with a liquid fertilizer”) and mixing in a healthy dose of patience and positive thinking.
“With the way the world is now, everyone is so busy and so rushed, I think gardening is a great way to just slow things down,” she said. “When you’re out there watering, just relax, enjoy the moment, and talk to your plants. You can’t just put a plant in the ground and expect it to grow. You have to take some time with it. But it’s OK to fail; that’s how you learn. It’s all a big learning curve.”
Customers interested in learning more can visit Perez Nursery this weekend for its annual sale. Everything on site will be discounted 50 to 70 percent. The sale takes place Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 925-516-1052. Perez Nursery is located at 2601 Walnut Blvd.