Saturday, August 25, 2012

Seeds: Capital Nursery's Freeport Blvd. closure painful, but official looks ... - Sacramento Bee

Sometimes to save a tree, some branches must be sacrificed.

Capital Nursery is in the midst of such bittersweet pruning.

Sacramento's beloved gardening source for 76 years, Capital has begun shutting down its flagship Freeport Boulevard location to preserve the family-owned chain.

"We're going through significant changes and it's going to be really hard for everyone," said Seth Taylor, Capital's sales manager. "So many customers have been coming in to say goodbye. Some literally grew up here, shopping here all their lives. It's heart-wrenching for a lot of them to see us go.

"Many of them are understanding," he added. "They want us to survive and what's best for us."

Hit hard by the economy and changing gardening habits, the Freeport Boulevard nursery is set to close Sept. 30, four weeks later than originally announced.

"By that point, we may be down to fixtures," Taylor said.

Last week, the landmark nursery began its relocation sale, which will gradually ramp up with deeper discounts. The selection on such specials as crape myrtle trees is still good.

Thousands of landscape shrubs and perennials remain. The nursery also has a good representation of UC Davis' popular Arboretum All-Stars, easy-care and drought-tolerant plants for Sacramento-area gardens.

The closure follows the recent sale of the Freeport property to Raley's. Originally, Capital planned to lease back the location for at least two years. But after bringing in a new general manager, the company decided it couldn't afford to keep all three stores open.

In October, Capital's headquarters and landscape division will move to its 13-acre Elk Grove location on Elk Grove Boulevard. Its Citrus Heights nursery will remain open, too.

In the consolidation, many of the Freeport location's 40 full- and part-time employees will lose their jobs.

"It's too early to tell (how many)," Taylor said. "But our ultimate goal is to keep the best of the best."

After the Freeport store closes, a large section of Sacramento will be left without a neighborhood nursery. Taylor hopes customers will follow Capital to its two other sites.

"We plan to really ramp up our presence on the Internet," Taylor said. "We're working on our website, but we'll also do a lot more on Facebook and Twitter, and start an email newsletter. We hope people will stay in touch.

"Once the dust settles, we're going to be polishing everything up and bringing back the level of quality customers expect," Taylor added. "We plan to come out of this stronger and more competitive."

Garden party at McKinley Park

The makeover of McKinley Park's historic rose garden reaches another milestone Sunday when it hosts a celebration for its donors.

From 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday, donors will pick out flower beds to sponsor and place commemorative plaques. The morning garden party also will unveil the latest addition to the garden: eight themed beds along its borders.

A trip to Australia inspired garden coordinator Cecily Hastings, co-founder of Friends of East Sacramento.

"Their parks all look like Martha Stewart's backyard," Hastings said. "They're beautifully manicured, with every plant labeled and a strong educational theme."

Hastings was particularly impressed by Sydney's Royal Botanical Gardens.

"It opened up a whole new world for me," she said. "Fifty percent of the plants I had never seen before. … I came back home, looked at our garden and thought we could incorporate a botanical theme here, too."

Each of the eight beds features a category of plants: Succulents, edible herbs, ornamental grasses, conifers, shade plants, a sun-shade mix and two sunny border gardens. These plants also complement the garden's hundreds of roses.

Hastings hopes visitors will use the botanical beds to learn about different plants, just as she discovered new flowers and shrubs during her Australia visit.

"I hope to get garden groups interested in adopting these beds and helping augment them with more plants and expertise," she said.

To learn more or to donate, visit www.friendsofeastsac.org.

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Call The Bee's Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075.

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