Drink And Be Wild

I remember going out into the forest and picking wild mushrooms with my grandmother. I was naive. I didn’t know. If I knew then what I know now about the dangers of picking picking wild mushrooms, I would not have done it. Nor would I have eaten the mushroom gravy she put on the potatoes that night. But at a young age my focus really wasn’t on the mushrooms. I was just looking for leprechauns.

When I was very little, I used to sneak up on a mushroom really close to the ground so that I could get a glimpse of a leprechaun. I can tell you today most certainly I have seen a leprechaun smoking a pipe under a mushroom. I think.

In nature there are edible flowers and not so edible flowers. Many of these flowers have health benefits beyond what we even know. One of the coolest plants we grow at High-Hand are our hibiscus plants. Most ornate garden variety hibiscus are not edible, but we found one that is and we dropped it into a glass of Prosecco. I realize it may not be normal to stuff a flower into a glass of champagne, but neither is putting a worm in a bottle of Tequila. I’ve never eaten that worm, but then I’ve never gotten to the bottom of the Tequila either.

This hibiscus is commonly known as Rosetta flower. They grow on the fringes of the rain forest and can be found in the tropical north of Australia. Originally, it was thought they came from Sri Lanka, but now they’re found growing on every continent. While the variety of hibiscus is the same, Hibiscus sabdariffa varies in flavor from continent to continent. Good luck with pronouncing the variety. I always have a hard time when I come across a word that has two sets of consonants in it.

This hibiscus has been linked to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. It is high in anti-oxidants and when we paired it with Prosecco at the cafe, we found it to be quite intoxicating.

Not in the champagne glass are the enormous flowers of Hibiscus moscheutos. While not edible it is reported to have medicinal properties. Native to the swamps of southeastern United States, it is known to help with dysentery, lung ailments and urinary ailments. Kind of funny how Mother Nature puts the treatment for dysentery right in the middle of a swamp.

Unlike its tropical cousin, this hibiscus goes completely dormant. Cold hardy and extremely reliable, they emerge faithfully year after year and bloom for approximately three months.

The smallest hibiscus flowers pictured are Hibiscus syriacus. This plant was collected from gardens in Syria and is commonly called Rose of Sharon. It is a very heavy bloomer. It grows as a shrub or a tree and it also goes dormant.

Both of these hibiscus varieties are full sun and very easy to care for and very reliable year after year.

Now a commercial.

Train Day at Maple Rock Gardens, September 15th. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here, at the nursery or at Maple Rock on the day of the event. All aboard for Train Day.

You now know more about hibiscus plants than the average person. You’ve learned hibiscus lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. They help your lungs, treat dysentery and urinary ailments. One more thing that we’ve learned. When you get to the bottom of your glass of Prosecco, help Jesus, our hydroceramic technician. Please eat the flower.

Come to High Hand Nursery and enjoy a hibiscus sparkler and take home a hibiscus.

See you at High-Hand Nursery.


High-Hand Citrus Thai Marinade

High-Hand Citrus Thai Marinade



  1. Add the High-Hand extra virgin olive oil of choice, soy sauce, lime juice, High-Hand balsamic vinegar of choice, ginger, garlic, honey, and pepper into a large bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. Use as a marinade for chicken, pork, fish and shrimp and really good when brushed on meats and veggies while grilling!

Looking Back

Not many people get to see this picture of High-Hand. This is what High-Hand looked like when I started. I wanted to buy plants from Monrovia, one of the nation’s premier plant growers to use in my landscape construction business. They wouldn’t sell to me because I didn’t have a retail nursery. Smugly, they said, “Scott, start a retail nursery and we’ll sell you our plants.”

Emboldened, I started my search. I’d driven by the High-Hand Fruit Sheds many times over the years, wondering what would ever become of it. I grew up in Loomis. I never gave High-Hand much thought. It was always an empty building whose history was being abandoned.

I got my nursery sales license and rented a small square beside the building. I called Monrovia and said, “I have a retail nursery. You can sell me plants now.”

Byron came out to High-Hand and laughed at me. He said, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

I said, “I’ve got to have plants to fill up my retail nursery.”

Byron replied, “You don’t have a key to the gate. That lock hasn’t been unlocked for decades.”

“No problem”, I said.

“I have a pair of bolt cutters. I’ll open it up right now.”

The gate fell to the ground. As Byron walked across it, he fell and skimmed his elbow. Not a good start to my new relationship with my Monrovia plant rep.

Irritated, he said, “Call me when you can run a credit card and I’ll sell you plants.”

I didn’t know. I’d never opened up a retail store before.

Looking back, I’m glad that ignorance was bliss.

Today, High-Hand, steeped with its history, has changed completely. The only reason why I did it was that I wanted access to the best plants on my own terms and when I needed them. I did not want my creativity to be held back by somebody else choosing what plants I had access to.

So, High-Hand Nursery serves as untethered access to our own plants that we think are magnificent. We grow some of the greatest varieties available.

High-Hand has given me a deep appreciation for history. High-Hand’s history dates back to the late 1880’s. It all began during the Gold Rush when farmers provided fruit – pears and plums. The Loomis Fruit Growers’ Association, was chartered April 21, 1901. High-Hand was the central packing shed.

I often ask myself the history of plants. Do you know the history of a flower? Do you even care about its origin? I ask that question often about some of the varieties of flowers we grow here at High-Hand.

Echinaceas have evolved a lot since we’ve opened High-Hand. When we first grew echinaceas, they were tall and floppy. With open petals they were not that memorable. Today, the echinaceas we grow are shorter, have stronger stems with heads that resemble a sea urchin.

Their history dates back to the 18th century. The name comes from the Greek Echinos, meaning hedgehog. This refers to the spiny round seed head which reminded Conrad Moench, a German botanist, of a hedgehog or sea urchin.

Native to the plains of North America, they do not grow wild anywhere else in the world. The plant was taken to Europe in the 17th century. Early settlers adopted their medicinal value from Native Americans.

Echinaceas are easy to grow. They thrive in full to partial sun. They need at least 4-5 hours of sun a day. They can tolerate most soils, but do not like wet feet. They’re clumping plants and they spread their roots deep. Deep rooted, plant them where you want them, because they do not like to be moved.

Echinaceas are a perennial and go dormant in the wintertime. They are a very reliable plant returning every year to add sunshine to your garden. We grow many varieties at High Hand. Now is a great time to experience the full bloom of High Hand’s echinaceas. Did I mention that echinaceas are very drought tolerant. True story.

High-Hand Mercantile Presents

Succulent Kokedama Workshop. What’s kokedama?

Take your own version of Japan’s centuries old kokedama home. Reservations can be made at by clicking here to get tickets.

Train Day is a Maple Rock exclusive. Who doesn’t like trains? Tickets can be purchased by clicking here, at the nursery or at Maple Rock on the day of the event. All aboard for Train Day.

High-Hand grows an abundance of great flowers born from the prairies of North America. Summer is a great time to garden. Come to High-Hand Nursery and experience High-Hand in full bloom.

See you at High-Hand Nursery.


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