Home gardeners itching to add to their current selection of flowers and plants might want to explore the rich nursery district that stretches through Moorpark along Los Angeles Avenue.
A trip into this nursery mecca can make for a meandering day through the beautiful Moorpark and Somis countryside with side visits to interesting, often hidden gems along the way. Or it can mean a quick, hop, skip and a jump for one-stop nursery shopping.
For the more adventurous, the following family-friendly scavenger hunt of sorts leads to some local attractions as well as some notable nurseries. So, program the GPS and head north on Hwy. 23 from the 101 Freeway.
Shortly before the first destination, there’s an opportunity to drop off unenthusiastic passengers at the Reagan Library. Or, if the golfer in your family would prefer, they can practice golf shots at the Tom Barber Golf Center while the rest of the family heads to nearby Elegant Gardens Nursery.
This wholesale nursery is open to the public and has 20 acres of plants as well as garden-related paraphernalia like pots, soil and fountains. Golf carts are available to customers who want to explore.
On the way to the next nursery, satisfy your hankering for fresh strawberries at a corner fruit stand. Or stop by Underwood Family Farms—a virtual playground and farmers market all in one—a mere three-minute detour.
Next up, Sterling Gardens Nursery. Mainly a wholesale operation, it also has several acres of retail material—and lots of advice for caring gardeners. As for its hours, one staff member said it’s “open as long as the gates are open.”
On the cusp of Moorpark and Camarillo in the Santa Rosa Valley, Nature’s Best Nursery is a local favorite for its great prices—think $5 for a succulent. And nursery owner Saul Spigiel is a treasure trove of information. So if you’ve got the time, it’s worth a side trip off Tierra Rejada and south on Moorpark Road all the way to the end. Hang a left and then a quick right at the sign and you’re there.
At this point if time permits, a detour into historic downtown Moorpark is worth the ride. The half-mile-long High Street district is lined with grand, old pepper trees planted over 100 years ago, which stand like huge sentries along the road.
Succulent-lovers should check out Hearts of Jade, a gift shop in the heart of town. And for a real local diner experience, stop at the casual and much-loved Cactus Patch Restaurant.
Heading west, and deep into the backcountry of Moorpark, adventurous explorers can pop in on one of the oldest nurseries in the district, Krystal Gardens, a lone spot up Grimes Canyon. But, you may need a hardy vehicle to maneuver the bumpy road, and with changing inventory it’s advisable to call ahead.
Hartley Botanica is a gem of a spot in this hunt for hidden garden treasures. Part nursery, part landscaping company, it also offers a magnificent outdoor wedding venue. If there are no nuptials happening, stroll through Botanica’s garden paradise for some stunning planting ideas.
On the nursery side, self-proclaimed “propagationist” Kate Hartley says she likes to give each customer personal attention.
But, if the greeter happens to be Ace Bravo the Wonder Dog, it’s best not to try to take his stick.
Just four miles and four minutes north through more country roads ripe with rows of citrus groves and giant eucalyptus trees is Matilija Nursery. Here, hands-on owner, Bob Sussman, offers a large variety of California natives and non-native irises, as well as one-on-one attention and advice.
A word of caution to drivers looking for Greenwood Daylily Gardens Nursery—which also specializes in bearded irises—if the GPS doesn’t register its address, don’t give up. Just veer left when it seems the road ends and take a quick left-hand turn into the first driveway into the nursery—with its sleek silver Airstream trailer office. Owner, John Schoustra, carries wholesale inventory but the public is welcome on Saturdays from April through June. Customers can also order from their online catalog, which also features design and care information.
On the way to the next stop, the hamlet of Somis offers some cool finds, like the Somis Nut House at the Bradley Road and L.A. Avenue intersection. Although it looks closed, it’s open daily until 5:30 p.m. and is the perfect place to load up on nuts as well as candies and other treats to get you through the rest of your adventure.
Pond enthusiasts and gardeners seeking unique outdoor pieces can visit Somis Water Gardens. Turn right when you see the giant rusted-metal giraffe. This spot offers water plants, varying sizes of koi fish and garden art. Another unexpected surprise along the way back toward Hwy. 23 on Los Angeles Avenue is a unique farm called Alpacas and Beyond, home to 38 alpacas. Check out the store that carries alpaca yarn and other goodies or make an appointment for a tour.
Still heading east, the north side of Los Angeles Avenue is dotted with hand-drawn or fading signs like Ocho’s, Jasmin’s Growers and El Pajaro Nursery. Those destinations will have to wait until our next trek to nurseryland.
But the last stop on this particular adventure is Performance Gardens’ retail location, which offers a large variety of goodies for gardeners, including herbs and drought-tolerant species.
Hopefully by this point, the car is full of beautiful outdoor treasures and a bunch of happy, tired home gardeners. Our advice: rest up before rising early the next day to plant all your new treasures.
Elegant Gardens Nursery
2046 Tierra Rejada Road, Moorpark
Greenwood Daylily Gardens
8000 Balcom Canyon Road, Somis
4465 Balcom Canyon Road, Somis
6501 Chagall Drive, Moorpark
8225 Waters Road, Moorpark
Nature’s Best Nursery
4730 Moorpark Road, Camarillo
Performance Gardens (retail)
6001 Los Angeles Ave., Somis
Somis Water Gardens
3766 Somis Road, Somis
Sterling Gardens Nursery
3909 Brennan Road, Moorpark
Alpacas And Beyond
5837 E. Los Angeles Ave., Somis
Cactus Patch Restaurant
197 E. High Street, Moorpark
Hearts of Jade
213 E. High St., Moorpark
Tom Barber Golf Center
15186 Tierra Rejada Road, Moorpark
40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley
Somis Nut House
4475 E. Los Angeles Ave., Somis
Underwood Family Farms
3370 Sunset Valley Road, Moorpark