Sugar Creek Gardens

Continuing with my commitment to visit and post about more area nurseries and garden centers, I went to Sugar Creek Gardens a couple of weekends ago. I usually only visit this lovely place two or three times a year and I'm not sure why...

It's a smaller nursery in Kirkwood, MO, and unlike the other nurseries I've visited recently it's in the middle of a neighborhood -- it's clear that you're surrounded by homes when plant shopping here. Smaller isn't a bad thing in this case, as Sugar Creek never disappoints with their plant selection.


Parking is limited (although they added more space 1/2 block away) but I always arrive minutes after they open so have no trouble finding a spot. I usually head right into the shade tunnel:

I'm always on the lookout for deer-resistant plants that I can add to the shady spots in my garden, and I especially love ferns, so seeing their fairly large selection was quite exciting!

They carry a mixture of natives -- like this Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) that I've been looking for... well as exotic species:

They always have plants that excite plant collectors, like this:

Athyrium 'Godzilla', Giant Japanese Painted Fern. Three feet tall and six feet wide! This is a case where I'll have to believe the plant tag, as the plants...

...are not even baby godzilla sized yet. (Sugar Creek doesn't have the space to let all of the plants fill out before selling, so often what they get from the grower goes straight out for sale.)

I had read about this plant in an email from Sugar Creek, and although I was eager to grab the best one now (I'm sure everybody else arriving now is looking for this plant specifically, right?) that meant that I would have to carry it around for the next 30 minutes or more. I prefer to browse everything first and then make a final pass to pick up my plants.

Luckily there were a bunch more on the ground behind me so I could defer my selection for a while and continue on unencumbered.

The full sun perennial tables are where I spend most of my time:

They only have the one hoophouse for growing and overwintering, but it works for them.

Quite a few grasses here, but more importantly they've grouped all of their native plants (in the purple pots) in one place this year...

...filling this entire row. It's quite a large selection, probably the widest selection of perennial natives I've seen so far this year:

Great stuff! I love how all of the nurseries are spreading the word about planting native, primarily due to the efforts of the Missouri Prairie Foundation's Grow Native! program. The purple pots are immediately recognizable as containing native plants, at least in the St. Louis area.

The variety of perennials that Sugar Creek carries is quite good, as I always find something unique and exciting when I visit:

This yucca was labeled as Yucca flaccida 'Bright Edge', and since one of my goals for this year is to add more yucca species to my garden, I snapped it up. Unfortunately, there's no such thing as Yucca flaccida 'Bright Edge', but there is Yucca filamentosa 'Bright Edge', but I didn't find that out until I had gotten home. Yucca filamentosa is what everybody grows here and I have several -- not the variegated types though.

Moving closer to the house (the shop -- I don't think anybody lives here)...

...hostas, all at the right stage of growth for this climate...

...clematis and other vines. They have quite a nice selection of vines here...

...shrubs, which I admit that I barely look at. I don't come here for shrubs...

...or annuals. They have a decent selection, but I'd rather go to Wiethop for annuals...

Lots of pretty around here though...

Sugar Creek Gardens describes themselves as a "Nursery and Garden Center", and they do have a nice selection of pots for such a small space...

...which tend toward impactful rather than subdued. I really like those square ones, but a bit out of my price range. (Why don't I have my own kiln?)

That's one problem I have with Sugar Creek: their prices are higher than other nurseries in the area. The native plants for example are $6.99, where the same plants go for $5.99 at Greenscape (and I'll be able to get them for $5 each or less at the Shaw Nature Reserve native plant sale next month). An extra dollar doesn't seem like a lot but that's a 20% markup, and it's consistent across all of the plants here.

That being said, it's the availability of the unique plants that makes me keep coming back and getting out my wallet. The prices are a bit high but not crazy, especially when you can get something here that you can't find anywhere else locally. (It's not like I paid $14 for a 1-gallon fern, right? Oh wait, I did. They know how to hook plant people here.)

My friend Mike (who lives closer to this nursery than I do) says that he thinks that plants bought from Sugar Creek often don't do well after being planted, but I'm not sure that I agree with that. I've had failures and successes from every nursery I've ever shopped at, including this one.

Overall, I really like this place! Slightly lower prices would make me LOVE it, but if you're a plant person it's worth a visit.

So let's take a look at what I bought..

There's the Yucca flaccida filamentosa 'Bright Edge'...

...always get the plant that's producing offsets, that's my philosophy...

A common yarrow 'Paprika', something that I had in my garden years ago and miss:

The 'Godzilla' Japanese painted fern (I zoomed in a bit to make it seem bigger):

And a few natives:

Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), wild ginger (Asarum canadense), and Virginal bluebells (Mertensia virginica). Note that after returning home I found out that my neighbor has both wild ginger and bluebells planted in the bed right across the street. I can see them from my window -- why didn't I remember? I could have saved some money...

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum):

And one of my favorites, Liatris aspera:

I may have this still growing in my prairie bed, but I'm planting another in a slightly different spot. The deer like this one.

Since I had to drive past Greenscape Gardens on my way home I stopped there and picked up a few more natives too. (I just realized that I haven't done a proper post about Greenscape other than when I went earlier to look at agaves... I'll have to go this weekend if the weather is agreeable!)

A couple of sedges:

That's Carex stricta ("Tussock Sedge") on the right, and Carex buxbaum on the left. Love the look of both of these:

I also picked up a small Prairie Pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta):

I'm going to plant that near the pond in the sunny area and see how it does. It was a bit of an impulse buy -- if you can call buying native plants "impulsive".

Finally, I've added another native mint to my garden:

Ohio Horse Mint (Blephilia ciliata). The flowers are a bit different on this one -- I like it! (I wonder why this was not in a purple pot?)

I say "another native mint" because I've added seven (or more?) already but have only told you about one so far. I'll have to write about this soon...

So that was a look at Sugar Creek Gardens (and a bit more). I hope I'll be able to visit more than a couple of times this year!


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outlawgardener  – (April 24, 2015 at 9:39 AM)  

Nurseries in residential areas are great, especially if you live in the residential area and can stop by any time! You got a great haul from Sugar Creek! In some of the pictures facing the street, the white picket fence doesn't look tall enough to keep evening visitors (deer, vandals, thieves, Alan) out. It's probably taller than it looks.

Is real estate more expensive in this neighborhood than in some of the other nursery locations? Sometimes the extra buck on the price tag reflects higher overhead. Looks like a great place and the pots, especially the Talavera, are wonderful!

Chickadee Gardens  – (April 24, 2015 at 10:23 AM)  

First off how cool to have a nursery in a neighborhood. Also, how wonderful to have one that has such a great selection of natives and that you have such a program as the Grow Native program. Those prices do seem a bit high but if you love the nursery, then it's worth it. You crack me up with the baby Godzilla fern...haahah..well, I hope it gets to be that large! Nice haul, Alan! Great tour, too. Love the prairie pussytoes, I have a version in the garden and it's so darned tough....great plant.

Mark and Gaz  – (April 24, 2015 at 11:09 AM)  

How cool a nursery to have nearby! And I hope that Japanese Painted Fern will live up to its promise, because if it did it will be spectacular!

Alan  – (April 24, 2015 at 12:13 PM)  

Peter: that white fence is atop a retaining wall, so it's high above the street. Our nurseries aren't overly fortified in general though.

Tamara: thanks for commenting on baby godzilla. I spent too much time looking for a decent link for that one. :)

Mark/Gaz: I hope so too, because I want to see a huge painted fern in general. The fact that it will be in my own garden is just icing on the cake. :)

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (April 24, 2015 at 5:03 PM)  

That's quite a haul! Lots of plants that are completely new to me--and that I can't grow :-(. But I love reading about what gardeners in other zones get excited about.

I have several Yucca filamentosa 'Bright Edge' and they're tough alrough not really succulent and/or terribly drought-tolerant. But that shouldn't matter in St Louis.

I love the location of that nursery. It's like visiting friends in an older residential area.

Teri  – (April 24, 2015 at 11:07 PM)  

Had to smile... I have a yard (woods) full of may apple, wild ginger, and pussy toes.

Heather  – (April 25, 2015 at 9:51 AM)  

Please do a follow up post on your baby Godzilla after it fills out. I'm intrigued (though I have no space for one).

danger garden  – (April 25, 2015 at 11:47 PM)  

Add me to the list of people interested to learn more about how Godzilla does in your garden. It seems to be one of the "IT" plants of the season. Great nursery visit!

Alan  – (April 27, 2015 at 6:43 AM)  

Teri: sounds like a nice yard! I also laugh sometimes at how others will get excited about plants that I consider to be so common, almost "weeds". I suppose you have ferns too? :)

Heather and Loree: you bet I will -- I'm really excited to see how this does, although I suspect it will be another year or two before 'Godzilla' comes into its own.

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