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.