Happy Mother’s Day from the Mother Garden!

Sometime in the late ’80s, the gardeners here affectionately started referring to the “Mother Garden” because of her abundant fertility and the fact that she was providing a wealth of seeds, plant material and wisdom to other gardens and gardeners – quite literally, giving birth to daughter gardens. The OAEC Nursery is a continuation of that legacy as we send our little babies out into the world. Read more about the Mother Garden Biodiversity Program.

Join us for a West County Mother’s Day tradition!  Bring your mom to the nursery (after your Mothers Day brunch, of course) and take a tour of the Mother Garden at 1 PM.  Leave plenty of time after for leisurely plant shopping!

Here’s a sampling of some of the FABULOUS varieties we offer:


We have one of the largest collections of salvias (or sages) anywhere in California, and continue to release new varieties all the time. Sages are an incredible multi-functional plant

that adds to the beauty and diversity of your garden, as well as attracting all sorts of beneficial pollinators. Many of their flowers are edible and have fragrant foliage used for making tasty medicinal teas. Pictured here is our Salvia dolomitica, or South African Dolomite Sage. (Pictured right.)

Edible Flowers

In addition to all the edible salvia flowers, we also have white sweet violets, orange safflowers, blue and the rare white borage, sunny shungiku (or edible chrysanthemum), mixed colors of bachelor’s buttons you can pull apart and strew on a cake, scented geraniums, and quite possibly the tastiest edible flower of all, the deeply fragrant stock which tastes like a clove-scented radish. We also have the “Flashback” series of psychedelic calendula varieties (pictured in the header) created by master Oregon breeder Frank Morton.

Rare Tobaccos

Oaxacan Tobacco Nicotiana tobaccum brought to us many years ago by local esteemed ethnobotanist Kathleen Harrison who collected it in the mountains of the Sierra Madre Oriental in northeast Oaxaca, a beautiful 8’ tall plant with pink flowers; Hopi Ceremonial, Nicotiana rustica, a very potent tobacco 18-24 inches tall producing clusters of pendulous green flowers that emit a jasmine-like aroma; Indian Tobacco Nicotiana bigelovii, a wild native tobacco from southern California, cultivated by California indigenous peoples to smoke and use medicinally, 3-4 feet tall with pink tubular flowers; Mt. Pima Nicotiana rustica, from the Mt. Pima region of Western Chihuahua in Mexico with delicate pink-tinged flowers and huge leaves; and Shirazi Tobacco Nicotiana tobaccum from Iran with lavender pink flowers used as a smoking tobacco. All of these varieties are great for attracting pollinating hummingbirds and can be used for making an organic pesticide!

Perennial Andean Food and Medicine Crops

Oca (baked with olive oil and salt), Mashua (steamed and added to garlic mashed potatoes, OMG), Naranjilla (squeezed into a juice and spiked with rum), Cape Gooseberry (dipped in chocolate, baked into tarts or dried into a tropically fragrant nibble), and Tamarillo (sliced fresh as a winter fruit on cheesecake).  We also carry both red and yellow maca (where else on the planet can you find this He-Man herb in 6-packs?)

We now carry two varieties of the sunflower relative Yacon or Bolivian Sunroot – ‘Morado’ (pictured here) is a purplish-red variety whose skin is the color of a beet and tastes even sweeter than the more common brown one. This garden volunteer couldn’t wait to bite into that earthy marriage of pear with the juicy crunch of jicama, but it’s best enjoyed washed, sliced and tossed in lemon or lime juice or added to fruity salsas.



Now you can grow your own free range California Certified Organic Chia pets using the seeds you collect from the two

species available in the OAEC Nursery: Tarahumara Chia,

Salvia tiliifolia from Central America, and Golden Chia, Salvia columbariae, from the American Southwest. Both have been

 grown for centuries by indigenous peoples in the Americas for their high protein seeds. Healthy and delicious chia pudding tastes much like tapioca and is incredibly easy to make. Both these sages have tiny delicate blue flowers that attract good pollinators.

Nothing says “I love you, Mom” like the gift of a chia pet. See you at the nursery!

See the Full Perennial Plant List (subject to change)

Ready to get your hands dirty?

Join us in the garden for Volunteer Day, every Wednesday from 10 AM- 5 PM. We’ll provide the pitchfork, all you have to do is show up! We’d love to have you for as long as you’re able to participate. Bring questions for our staff, sunscreen and a water bottle, and come hungry! Our kitchen staff prepares a delicious, organic lunch for volunteers, using in-season ingredients from the garden.

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