Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How I Spent My Birthday...

About a week and a half ago, Jeff and I headed up the interstate to the D.C. area for a multipurpose trip, part Christmas shopping, part birthday getaway for me, and part exploration/investigation. I had recently discovered that Virginia has only one dedicated native plant nursery open to the public, and it ironically just happens to be in one of the largest metropolitan areas of the country (D.C.), Alexandria to be precise. Travelling up there can be dangerous for your well-being, especially at Christmas time, but we're veterans and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit my first native plant nursery, especially on my birthday, before winter set in too deep. Luckily for me, our winter has been quite mild and I got there just as the owner was getting ready to put things away for the season. I managed to fill up the back of our vehicle with and assortment of shrubs, flowers, vines and grasses. We seriously contemplated renting a Uhaul to fill up, but this being winter, I didn't want to commit to having to plant that many things before the ground freezes. I admit, it felt pretty strange buying pots of dirt with crunchy brown tops, but I easily could have bought twice as much if it had been spring, I felt like a kid in a candy store!

The name of the nursery is Nature By Design and it's conveniently located just off of route 1 in Alexandria, Virginia. Situated at the end of a cul-de-sac, the nursery is cozily laid out in the back yard of a house, complete with mature trees, a pond, a carriage house/office, and greenhouse/giant coldframe. I couldn't believe the selection that was available, I wanted everything! The owner, Randee Wilson greated us as we walked through the gate and couldn't have been a nicer fellow. Jeff and I probably spent about an hour and a half walking around, trying to narrow down our choices, and picking things out while Randee helped us find what we were looking for. I can easily justify the 8 hour round trip drive next spring to come back, and if you're in the vicinity you won't be disappointed. March is only a few months away!

Do you want to know something really bizarre? Well, on our way home, I called my mom and told her what we did, which was visit this nursery in Alexandria. She says, "Oh yeah, where in Alexandria?" (She grew up there, and I was born there). I say "Just off route 1, near Glebe, on Calvert Avenue". She says, "No way! I lived on Calvert Avenue!". You see, Calvert is just a short street, maybe 1/4 mile. The only house left is the one with the nursery. She described the area from memory perfectly so there's no chance it could be a different Calvert. The odds of that are extremely tiny. Alexandria is huge. Small world! 

Thank you Nature By Design, for being there and for still being open in December!

Sweet little pond and beautiful crabapple tree, most of the forbs were stored under the tables!

Randee in the background adding up our bill

Trees and shrubs area

Very cool mantis sculpture

My birthday gifts to myself (notice Christmas shopping bags in background!)

Squeezed in wherever they would fit


  1. Well, Happy belated Birthday to you! What a wonderful bunch of plants you got - it takes a true believer to fall in love with a bunch of sticks.

  2. Notice how "Birthday Girl" filled the entire cargo area and one rear floor. That did not leave a great deal of room for luggage for two people for 4 days and anything we might buy in the way of...CHRISTMAS PRESENTS!!! Luckily we do not have kids...Julie says they are Non-Native.

  3. I like the loot! We have filled our station wagon many times like this. Have fun planting it all and happy birthday.

    We used to go to a really good native nursery when we lived in Maryland which was just north of the MD border in PA. I can't remember the name but it had a lot of selection.

  4. What fun! Happy Birthday! That's how I want to spend my birthday next year. Hmmm, maybe at Amanda's Garden. I understand about the U-haul. When we moved here I had to explain to our new neighbors that the U-haul truck was just for my plants and that our furniture would be arriving separately in a moving truck. We're still friends. So, what'd you get, huh, huh?

  5. Violet Fern, thanks! I'm planning to put a list of the new plants up in my next post, stay tuned!

  6. Holy cow! Comments from Ellen, Heather and Violet Fern! It's official folks, Julie has hit the BIG TIME!!!

  7. With age comes privilege .... ;) Happy New Year, Jeff and Julie!