Nursery school

There are many garden nurseries in Northern Nevada. Here are some good, moved and new ones and some tips and tricks

At Rail City Garden Center, Pawl Hollis looke over a plant box.

At Rail City Garden Center, Pawl Hollis looke over a plant box.


Gardening in Nevada is a refined art. With a mercurial springtime and nutrient-poor soil, coaxing blooms from the desert takes patience, practice and a fair amount of intuition. If you have never put a seed in the ground and given it some water, now is the time to start. Here are some of the latest products and gardening advice from the green thumbs at some of our local nurseries.

Dry Creek Garden Company, 250 South Virginia St., Reno, specializes in hardy plants that can withstand extreme temperatures. Owner Nancy Strickland is excited about the new arrivals at the nursery. “We have all kinds of really cool dwarf conifers,” she says. “Then, we have all kinds of new and different native plants. Desert Peach is a native plant that is blooming out in the desert … it’s kind of a hard plant to find.” Strickland’s best tip for growing in Northern Nevada solves both the problem of our barren soil and the arid, desert environment. “Compost, compost, compost—and water!”

phone: (775) 851-0353

“You can grow anything that you’re willing to work for,” says Marnie Brennan, gardening coach and marketing manager of Garden Shop Nursery, 3636 Mayberry Drive, Reno. “We have a unique growing weather and soil.” According to Brennan, the number of people who express interest in growing their own food has greatly increased this year. Garden Shop Nursery has expanded its organic seed selection, and Brennan is enthusiastic about the public’s increased awareness of pesticide-free growing. “What I’m totally thrilled about are all the edibles, they are really a sign of the times.”

phone: (775) 322-8733

Regional is the new gardening trend, and the concept of buying locally doesn’t just extend to produce. At Moana Nursery, 1100 W. Moana Lane, Reno, locally created art such as handmade gourd bird feeders are one of the favorite garden products. Artist Joyce Field not only crafts the feeders, she actually grows the gourds herself before drying them. Moana Nursery has helped local gardeners make sense of the changeable weather for more than 40 years, and they have a few green tips that have withstood the test of time. “We’ve seen a lot of wacky weathers. An early warm spell can lull you into thinking spring is coming,” says store manager Lisa Braginton. “Believe it or not, the dandelions blooming is a good sign!”

phone: (775) 825-0600

You can’t get a better deal than a one-gallon Red Leaf Japanese Maple Tree for $9.99. They are one of the most popular items at G&G Nursery and Landscaping, 3397 Pyramid Way, Sparks. Owner Stephen Giossi calls the tree “my single biggest seller this year. They’re beautiful. We’ve sold hundreds of them already.” Remember, the Japanese Maple requires a shady spot. G&G has a large selection of new garden art in addition to plants and trees, if you’re looking for a frog or a dragonfly to add magic to your garden. Giossi has a simple secret for luxuriant blooms: Since Nevada soil is not conducive to optimal growth, amending the soil with nutrients in absolutely necessary. “Go to organics,” he says. “Supplement your soils organically.”

phone: (775) 358-1700

Square Foot Gardening is a concept that has been around for over two decades, and Rail City Garden Center, 1720 Brierley Way, Sparks, is on its way to being Northern Nevada’s official Square Foot Gardening headquarters. “It’s more of a system than any other thing,” elaborates owner Pawl Hollis. According to Hollis, you use 20 percent less of the land when gardening with the Square Foot method than if you were to plant in traditional rows. Hollis suggests his expanded line of Franchi seeds, an Italian company founded in 1778. With high quality seeds and a space-saving gardening system, the unpredictable Nevada weather is the primary unstable variable. “Be prepared for frost,” Hollis advises. Some of us got that lesson last week.

phone: (775) 745-6571

There are new, improved tomatoes on the horizon at Garden District Nurseries, 1920 Farm District Road, Fernley. “Abe Lincolns and some new heirloom tomatoes, I’m excited about that,” says garden guru Kathryn Claypool. “You really have to check the soil.” Know Thy Soil is the top commandment for desert gardening. In Fernley, Claypool says, the high boron content in the soil kills pines and spruces. The other big culprit is the killer pogonip. It sounds like a small, jumpy dog with a sharp, sudden bite, and the image isn’t far from reality. Derived from the Shoshone word pakenappeh, the term describes a thick winter fog filled with ice particles. Pogonip rears its plant-petrifying canines in this area from time to time, so keep an eye out for the freezing fog.

phone: (775) 835-6767

Mirage Garden and Gifts, 350 E. Main St., Fernley, has a knack for combining pragmatic desert landscaping with beautiful artistry. “We’re really looking for more drought-tolerant cactus, succulent type plants that would bring interesting drama to anyone’s garden,” says shop expert JJ Bredengerd. In Northern Nevada, plants like myrtle and fuchsia are difficult to maintain. “Plants that wouldn’t normally grow here? Don’t waste your money on them!” His magic planting tips are pragmatic. “Pay attention to the specific requirements of the plants,” he says. Bredengerd pauses reflectively for a moment. “Make sure you deep-water your plants to help get the roots established,” he adds.

phone: (775) 575-6888

“The key words right now are microrisa—ecto and endo,” says Greg Hanson, head green thumb at Greenhouse Garden Center, 2450 S. Curry St, Carson City. “They are bacteria that cling to the roots and make them divide, so we get more roots, and that’s how we get more plants. … Generally speaking, Nevada’s soils are very poor.” To enrich the soil, he suggests adding a lot of organic matter and beneficial bacteria to make plants thrive. This year, Hanson is excited about the new Forsythia in tree form, not the usual shrub. Hanson also recommends the popular carpet and shrub roses because of their controlled size and continuous bloom. What’s more, these fragrant flowers smell as beautiful as they look.

phone: 775-882-8600