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4010 Mt Diablo Blvd.
Lafayette, CA, 94549

Life is Beautiful Blog

How to Help Your Houseplants Thrive

Blaire Benson

Houseplants can help add fresh decor to any room in the house, but in order for your plant to thrive, you need to choose the right space. Once settled, the plant will bless your room with lush growth and beautiful foliage. Here are a few of our favorite houseplants and quick tips on what they need. 

Although the Zamioculcas Zamiifolia plant, also known as 'ZZ,' does best in bright to moderate lighting, it can withstand small amounts of light, even from a fluorescent-lit office. ZZ plants do best when left alone, surviving even months without water, but we don’t recommend going that long! A slow to moderate grower, its feathered foliage will grow up to two feet. Fitting for a contemporary decor, its graceful, waxy oval-shaped leaves are versatile for any space.

Add a bit of tropical color to your space with a low-maintenance Bromeliad, prized for its thick foliage and rosette shape. We have a variety of colors available in the florist. Choose a spot with bright to moderate indirect light. They grow best in a shallow pot; water moderately by filling the cup at the base of the plant and provide humidity when possible. 

The delicate sophistication of an orchid should not be overlooked. Available in a wide array of shapes and colors, there’s sure to be an orchid that catches your eye. As humidity-lovers, find a spot for them that gets bright, indirect light, fitting for a bit of greenery and elegance. Although requiring frequent moisture and well-drained soil, they should dry out between waterings. New orchids have just arrived in the florist; be sure to stop in and admire their beauty!

You’re sure to have seen the Fiddle Leaf Fig featured on your favorite interior design blog and with reason! Their stunning large green foliage and tall, sculptural shape is a perfect addition to a room. A hearty and adaptable tree growing six feet or taller, keep in bright, indirect light. Water only when soil is dry to the touch. Due to their large surface, be sure to keep leaves clean by wiping them with a soft cloth.

Looking for more low-maintenance plants? Check out our Hard-To-Kill Indoor Plants blog post here!

Ground covers galore!

Blaire Benson

'Daybreak Bronze' Gazania.

'Daybreak Bronze' Gazania.

Offering versatility and beauty, ground covers will go where no plant will. Growing lush between plants, stepping stones and walks, they create carpets of low-maintenance greenery. Best of all, they come in a large variety of texture, color and sun tolerance, making it easy to find the ideal ground cover for your garden. 

Searching for a little color? Look no further than ‘Daybreak Bronze’ Gazania. A sun-lover and drought-tolerant once established, this evergreen perennial forms foliage mounds up to 8 inches tall. Gazania will bloom all summer long and is great to fill in space when looking for a little height. 

From left to right, Golden Lemon Thyme, 'Platt's Black' Brass Buttons and Baby's Tears.

From left to right, Golden Lemon Thyme, 'Platt's Black' Brass Buttons and Baby's Tears.

We love the duality of Golden Lemon Thyme; gold dappled foliage is great for edging and the lemon candy-like fragrance adds zest to salads, poultry and fish. Forming a mounding mat 6 to 12 inches high, plant in sun or light shade with well-draining soil. Small, pale purple blossoms decorate the herb spring through summer. Thyme responds well to clipping, so freely enjoy its zest and prolific growth! 

‘Platt’s Black’ Brass Buttons is ideal for small-area ground cover, filling the space with a feathery mat of foliage. Growing one to two inches high and 12 inches wide, plant this evergreen perennial in sun or light shade and keep soil moist. Studded with tiny white daisies in winter among the almost purple-black fern-like leaves, this ground cover fills in quickly, keeping weeds out. 

A classic ground cover, Baby’s Tears’ emerald-green leaves create a dense undulating carpet that looks both cool and soft. Plant as a bulb cover, in a terrarium or in fairy garden for its whimsical appeal. Spreading quickly and growing up to four to five inches high, plant in morning sun with part shade and in moisture-rich soil.

From left to right: ‘Pink Pewter’ Creeping Lamium, Mondo Grass and Veronica repens ‘Creeping Speedwell.’

From left to right: ‘Pink Pewter’ Creeping Lamium, Mondo Grass and Veronica repens ‘Creeping Speedwell.’

Planting in a shady spot? The silvery variegated ‘Pink Pewter’ Creeping Lamium is one of the best choices for a tough, yet showy ground cover. Small clusters of soft salmon-pink flowers bloom spring through fall. It is fairly drought-tolerant once established and deer-resistant. 

Traditionally planted in Japanese gardens at the base of pagoda lights and stone basins, Mondo Grass' stemless dark green leaves add elegance to a low border. Grass-like foliage grows 12 to 15 inches tall, adding texture and boasting tiny spikes of lilac flowers in summer. Plant in partial to full sun and keep soil moist.

Looking for a lawn substitute or just a lush green carpet? ‘Creeping Speedwell’ Veronica repens will do the job and can take the traffic! A hardy perennial growing two to six inches high and spreading, it’s best in front of a border or rock garden. Adorned with tiny lavender to white flowers in spring and early summer, plant in sun or light shade, keeping soil moist for best growth. 

With so many choices, you can’t go wrong with a lush ground cover that will keep the weeds at bay and offer additional foliage texture and color to your garden!

Eggplants Are Here!

Blaire Benson

Differing in color and size, we love a variety of eggplants. Plant these sun-lovers where they will get at least six hours of sun a day; they require sun and heat to set fruit. Eggplants also grow well in containers and can be very ornamental on a deck or patio.

We recommend amending your soil with Master Nursery’s Paydirt prior to planting to help loosen our clay soil and increase moisture. Add one bag per 50 square feet. Apply Master Nursery’s Tomato and Vegetable Food 5-10-10 two to three times during the growing season. All of the varieties below will produce full-grown fruit that can be harvested after about 75 days.

A 2008 AAS award winner, ‘Hansel’ is a breeding breakthrough. Harvested anywhere between two and 10 inches, its long purple fruit is tender and lacks bitterness. It's great for frying or baking.

The ‘Gretel’ is a gourmet treat you must try! Pure and creamy white, elongated eggplants, they are ready for harvest at three to four inches long or can be picked mature at eight to nine inches with thee to six fruits per cluster. Non-bitter and nearly seedless, this eggplant is excellent for baking or frying.

‘Listada de Gandia’ is considered one of the most beautiful Italian heirlooms. Rounded, six-inch-long, tear-drop fruit boasts showy purple striping on creamy white, thin skin. They have a delicious, mild and sweet flesh.

Originating in France, the ‘Casper’ aubergine is striking with gorgeous ivory skin and an early and prolific producer, growing five to seven inches long. Its snow white flesh has a mild, succulent flavor.

With so many new vegetables at the nursery, stop in today and let us help you perfect your summer garden-to-table recipes!

Full grown 'Gretel' eggplants!

Full grown 'Gretel' eggplants!

Easy Tangerine Sorbet For A Warm Day

Blaire Benson

We love growing citrus, scenting our gardens in sweet fragrance and adding zesty flavor to our meals. Our fragrant citrus is currently in bloom and wafting through the nursery. Whether you’re looking for a bushy Improved Meyer Lemon shrub or a sprightly-flavored Dancy Tangerine perfect in a container, we’ve got an abundance of varieties to choose from! Today, we're sharing a tangerine sorbet recipe inspired by our citrus inventory and perfect for a hot, sunny day (which will hopefully be arriving soon)!


  • 3 cups fresh tangerine juice (or juice from mandarin oranges)
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp corn syrup (optional)

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Pour tangerine juice, sugar, and (optional) corn syrup into a bowl. Stir with a spoon until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  2. Process in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  3. Serve immediately, or chill for a few hours. Best eaten the day it’s made.

Recipe from Pacific Coast Farmer’s Market Association.

Meet The Queen Of The Pond, Shelly The Turtle!

Blaire Benson

Shelly came to live at the nursery in 1999. Barb, who used to work in the florist, had become a school teacher and was given Shelly as a classroom pet by one of her student’s parents. She had been originally found wandering in a median on a busy boulevard in Fremont. In the classroom, Shelly spent most of her days hanging out in a bathtub. When summer came along, Barb had trouble finding a family that would take her over the long break. We happily said we’d take care of her and set her up in her very own bathtub in Collector’s Corner. Once summer ended, Barb couldn’t bear to take her from her new happy home. We decided to keep her and made the pond her permanent habitat. 

Shelly is a red-eared slider, native to the bayou regions of the south. Upon arrival, Shelly was nameless. Thanks to our most witty employee, Dave Barnett, she was dubbed “Shelly.” She dines better than most of us: fork-fed smoked salmon, shrimp and the occasional strip of turkey bacon.

If you’ve been around Orchard, you’ve noticed her winter habitat we’ve constructed. Our pond isn’t deep enough for her hibernation, as she likes water above 50°F. You’ll still see her wading in the pond on any given day; she enjoys soaking up the sun and practicing yoga on the rocks. Sit near the pond and she’ll swim over and say hello. She loves the attention and is truly the diva of the pond! Just remember to protect your fingers or she’ll try them out for a nibble.

To the best of our knowledge, Shelly will be turning 50 this year! Come by and give the queen of the pond your regards! 

Pesto Everything, Please!

Blaire Benson

We're sharing a simple basil pesto recipe from the kitchen of our Bedding Manager, Randall Barnes. (And if you want to learn more about Randall, check out his employee spotlight blog!) This foolproof recipe incorporates freshly harvested basil (which is in stock now) that will turn your cupboard pasta, and so much more, into something truly delectable!

Easy Basil Pesto


  • 2 cups fresh basil, packed
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Put ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. If you have the time, use a mortar and pestle. 

The Five S’s of Starting an Edible Garden! 

Blaire Benson

If you’re new to gardening or need a refresher, here are five easy steps to starting your own edible garden, recommend by our Bedding Manager, Randall Barnes. 


  • Vegetables require at least 6 hours of sun daily.
  • Be aware of the shade created by trees, buildings and other structures.


  • Create healthy soil for vegetable growing by ensuring proper drainage and incorporating lots of organic matter. We recommend amending your soil with Master Nursery’s Paydirt prior to planting to help loosen our clay soil and increase moisture. Add one bag per 50 square feet.


  • Select a site close to a walkway or house so you can visit it each day to weed, water and harvest.
  • Have a water source close by.


  • Start small and enlarge as you feel more comfortable and learn more about the dynamics of your garden.
  • Use a container that is easy and convenient for you to have on a sunny patio.


  • Grow what you like to eat.
  • Grow a fun variety of vegetables, edible flowers and herbs. The combination will give the garden a completed look, no matter its size.

Long Live Your Lawn: Grub Control

Blaire Benson

We're here to help you deal with grubs this season before the damage is done! Grubs are waking up from their winter slumber and will cause sections of your lawn to die as they feed on roots and organic matter. They also draw in their predators like your neighborhood skunks, raccoons and moles, resulting in not only brown, but torn up lawns.

We recommend using Bayer Advanced’s Season Long Grub Control Plus Turf Revitalizer. The formula creates a season-long barrier that will kill grubs before they do any damage. Apply anytime now through late summer; our 12 lb. bag will cover up to 5,000 sq. ft. The Grub Control also contains a 6-0-1 fertilizer that promotes thicker root mass for tougher turf. 

It’s ideal to take care of grubs this season before the beetles lay eggs in your lawn during late-summer and continue the cycle next year. Look out for brown patches lacking roots or spongy turf, a sign that grubs are present. Stop by the nursery with any questions you may have, so we can help keep your lawn looking healthy this season!


Seasonal Salads: Shaved Fennel & Orange

Blaire Benson

We love cooking up seasonal dishes with fresh ingredients we harvest from our garden. Fennel lends a mild licorice flavor and a crunchy texture to meals and in the garden, attracts one of our favorite pollinators, the bees! Plant in full sun behind shorter growing herbs for a stunning backdrop. We’ve already discussed all the reasons we love zesty citrus, both on our plates and in the garden, so this Shaved Fennel & Orange Salad is just the dish we’ve been searching for! 

Shaved Fennel & Orange Salad from Lulu Yang of Lulu's Kitchen

Serves 4


  • 2 medium size fennel bulbs, thinly sliced or shaved
  • 2 oranges, thinly sliced
  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon top quality olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Put all of the above ingredients together in a bowl and mix.
  2. Taste and re-season accordingly.

This recipe is from the website of CUESA, The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture.

Show-Stopping Spring Herbs

Blaire Benson

Our spring selection of herbs has arrived! We love these leafy greens for the range of flavor they lend to our meals. With so many choice varieties, it’s hard to choose just one! Here are a few of our show-stoppers that you’ll want to be sure not to miss next time you are browsing the nursery.

  • ‘Barbeque’ rosemary is the perfect addition to your backyard cookout and great for skewers! Growing 2 to 4 feet tall, this hardy evergreen shrub is perfect for borders, hedges and containers. Plant in sun with moderate watering. Plus, small clusters of blue flowers bloom late winter into spring, attracting our favorite pollinator, bees!
  • Italian oregano is considered by many to be the best all-purpose culinary oregano. Distinguish it from Greek oregano by its darker and slightly hairier foliage. Plant in sun and enjoy leaves fresh or dried in your next meal!
  • ‘Brussels Winter’ chervil is a classic sweet and tasty herb enjoyed in French cuisine. Cook with fresh leaves (as heat ruins their flavor), chopped in Bearnaise sauce, soups, potatoes, egg dishes and fish and enjoy its mild anise flavor. Growing 6 to 18 inches quickly, plant in morning sun to part shade and keep moist.
  • Ginger mint’s sweet and fruity fragrance will fuel your culinary arts this season. Use in ice teas, fresh fruit compotes or salad and enjoy this zesty addition. This GMO-free and locally sourced herb is a vigorous spreader and should be contained. Plant in full sun to part shade and enjoy its tall and lush foliage.
  • Rub your fingers through the foliage of the lemon verbena and come out smelling like a lemon drop. Use this fragrant herb to flavor drinks and preserves, enjoying its terminal clusters of white blooms this summer. This hardy, semi-deciduous shrub (which grows up to 6 feet) likes sun with moderate watering. Rangy growth can be nicely controlled with pruning hard or 'pinching' often. 
  • You’ve seen this sugar substitute before, but have you tried it fresh off the bush? We recommend plucking off a leaf of stevia rebaudiana and trying it for yourself. This herb’s leaves are 30 times sweeter than ordinary sugar. Containing zero calories and safe for diabetics, this locally sourced and GMO-free herb is a must-have for rare plant collectors and all those with a 'sweet tooth.' Adorned with white florets in late summer, stevia will take full sun with moderate watering.

For all of our herbs, we recommend plucking off a leaf or two and trying it yourself to help narrow down your favorites. As always, our knowledgable staff is on-hand to help answer any questions you may have!