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Nurseries That Flourish off the Beaten Path

February 27, 1992|DIANE CALKINS

A diversity of nurseries flourish in North County, a land where nearly all things grow well and people pride themselves on creating a unique setting for their not-always-unique homes.

Some nurseries, such as Nurseryland, carry everything from garden gloves to annual color packs. One full-service nursery, Evergreen, covers more than 100 acres on Black Mountain Road and carries both the usual and the not-so-usual.

But, for the times you're looking for something more specialized, there are also nurseries that pride themselves on creating a certain ambience, offer a particular service or fill a niche.

Here are some nurseries off the beaten path:

Finnamex

An affinity for trees and plants and flowers--a "forest feeling"--is part of a person's nature, believes horticulturist Aarre Silvola, owner of Finnamex Nursery in Fallbrook. Unfortunately, people tend to forget the forest feeling in the rush of their lives. It can be recaptured though, says Silvola, in a thoughtfully planted landscape.

The entrance to Finnamex, lined with a blend of trees and shrubs and few flowering plants, provides a living illustration of that concept. Many visitors (most of whom come from the surrounding areas of Fallbrook, Lake Elsinore and Temecula) tell Silvola they would like to achieve the same effect with their own landscaping plans.

Finnamex buys seed from all over the world, always on the lookout for plants that are hardy, at least somewhat drought-tolerant and easy to care for, such as the King's Pines, which are natives of the Caucasus Mountains and grow as much as six or seven feet a year. Every plant, from those in one-gallon pots to those in 48-inch boxes, is watered by hand, ensuring that each "is monitored every day and water is saved by adjusting to weather conditions." Silvola firmly believes that the need to save water does not make it impossible to nurture our "forest feeling."

Finnamex Nursery, 2910 Rainbow Glen Road, Fallbrook. 728-4714 Exotica Rare Fruit

Exotica Rare Fruit Nursery in Vista has a wild look about it. Colorful vines wrap around the door and cover the roof of the tiny office, trumpet flowers hang down from trees, and an array of mostly strange but some familiar fruit (cherimoya, sweet pomegranate and guava, to name a few) covers a table.

Partners Jessica Leaf and Steven Spangler invite visitors to "experience the high renaissance of plants in the age of exotic edibles . . . in an Eden-like garden." Everything is organically grown and "guarded by wild butterflies"--and seems out of place in San Diego. However, all the plants the nursery carries are suited to Southern California--although not necessarily to your particular microclimate.

Among the mango, papaya, carob, fig and lychee trees are flowering and fragrant plants such as the Angel Trumpet, which releases a seductive fragrance only from dusk to dawn, plumeria with its perfectly formed blossoms, several different kinds of jasmine and at least 20 varieties of palms.

Exotica Rare Fruit Nursery, 2508-B E. Vista Way, Vista. 724-9093 Rainbow Gardens

Rainbow Gardens specializes in flowering jungle cacti with dramatic and colorful blooms ranging in size from under three inches to more than nine inches. As alluring as their epiphyllums, Christmas and Easter cactus, and rhipsalis are, the Rainbow Gardens Bookshop also attracts visitors from all over the county and the world.

The Bookshop has more than 400 carefully selected new, used and out-of-print titles, including books written in Russian, Czechoslovakian and Dutch. Since Rainbow Gardens grows epiphyllums, the bookshop carries everything available on that subject from the basic to the esoteric.

The books on epiphyllums are just a part of the extensive cactus and succulent section. There are also sections reserved for information on bromeliads, palms and cycads, orchids and carnivorous plants, as well as general horticultural books such as "Tropica," which has 7,000 photos of plants from tropical regions and was written by Dr. A.B. Graf, who lives in Vista. You can even find a couple of shelves filled with Southwestern cookbooks.

Rainbow Gardens, 1444 East Taylor St., Vista. 758-4290 Rebecca's at Fire Mountain

Tucked in an unlikely spot near the intersection of Highway 78 and I-5 in Oceanside is Rebecca's at Fire Mountain Nursery. A pot of cut flowers marks the entrance, and once inside visitors forget everything.

Rebecca's is actually a nursery within a nursery. Fire Mountain Nursery has been around since the early '60s and produces and grows trees and shrubbery and designs and creates large- and smaller-scale landscaping. Rebecca's opened less than a year ago as the nursery company's contact with the public.

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