Chelsea Garden Center, Red Hook

Shrubberies, Chelsea Garden Center
Shrubberies, Chelsea Garden Center

Last Saturday I visited the Chelsea Garden Center in Red Hook.

It was part of our day of car errands. While the roof was getting replaced, the driveway was in use as a warehouse and shop; the car stayed in the garage for three weeks. That may have contributed to our car problems later in the day.

I'd built up a shopping list of outdoor tools and supplies to acquire. We visited Lowes first. They did not have plain cedar mulch, only the "decorator" varieties. They also didn't have any large bags of Holly-Tone. I passed on the smaller bags, thinking I could get a large bag at Chelsea. I regretted this decision later; Chelsea only had the smaller bags as well, and their prices are much higher than Lowes.

Chelsea's strength is in woody plants. They had a wide variety of choice shrubs, trees and vines. All were in excellent condition. They were also artfully displayed, as you can soon from the photos.

I didn't buy any woodies. I bought some unusual shade perennials: an unidentified Ligularia, a beautiful silvery Pulmonaria, and a bright white-variegated Liriope. These will go along the shady path on the north side of the house.

I also picked up some annuals. My preference is to go to one of the larger Greenmarkets for annuals. But I wanted to plant our window boxes before the Victorian Flatbush House Tour the next day. I had also hoped to plant the hell strip between the sidewalk and the street with some drought-tolerant annuals. I bought 18 plants for these two projects. Again, pricier than they would have been at a Greenmarket; only one, maybe two, of the six different species I chose would not have been available there.

So overall, Chelsea is certainly a pleasant visit. Staff was helpful, if a bit stressed by the business they were getting; it felt like they were still getting into their weekend groove. Noone was able to identify the species, let alone variety, of the sole specimen of Ligularia I found. If you have an eye for them, they have a few unusual perennials. I didn't take but a cursory look at their woody stock, but that seems to be a specialty of theirs, just based on the quantity, variety, and staging.

PS: When you see a car stalled in the non-shoulder area of the Prospect Expressway, honking at them does not help. They already know they are stalled in a dangerous location. And trust me, they want to be there even less than you want them there.

Chelsea Garden Center, Red Hook

Chelsea Garden Center, Red Hook

Chelsea Garden Center, Red Hook

Chelsea Garden Center, Red Hook

Chelsea Garden Center, Red Hook

Chelsea Garden Center, Red Hook

Teak Window Boxes, Chelsea Garden Center

Perennials for Sun, Chelsea Garden Center

Shrubberies, Chelsea Garden Center

Shrubberies, Chelsea Garden Center


Blackswamp_Girl said...

That looks like a lovely place, Xris! Probably a much needed respite after the stress of stalling out on the Expressway.

What are the specialty annuals that you purchased? (Inquiring minds are nosy, and all that... lol.) By the way, if you can post a picture of the unidentified ligularia I may be able to ID it for you.

Xris said...

The car business came after I took these photos. We had a car full of perishables - plants and food - when we stalled out.

See the last photo in First Macro Shots for a shot of the Ligularia. I'll get some photos of the annuals when I finish planting them out today!

Jennifer said...

I visited the Chelsea Garden Center in Red Hook for the first time today. I was searching for a birch tree and after reading your description of what they sell, I decided to check it out. It is a very beautiful place and seems to have a large variety of trees and plants.

I have to say, though, that their prices are pretty outrageous. In the past two days, I have been to many Brooklyn nurseries and have been comparing the prices of trees as well as flats of impatiens. The best price I've seen for annual flats is at Lapides, in the Terminal Market: $6. I got a hanging basket of impatiens for $5 next door at Viscontes. Neither had any birch trees. I also visited Shannon Nursery. They had big, healthy birches for $225. Their flats are also on sale, but I forget the price. I also happened to stop by Mazzione's Ace hardware on Court Street. No birches, but their flats have been reduced as well. I recently paid $10.99 for 24 plants, which I consider steep. Chelsea's flats are $19.99 still, and their big, beautiful birch trees are $399. They have two kinds. Home Depot sells dead and almost dead trees, (no birches) although they are priced well at $16.87 and $31.99. They had no flats left. I ended up buying my birch tree at G&D Nursery on Caton Ave for $99. It's surprisingly large, very healthy and beautiful. It took me a lot of time and gas, but I feel shopping around was well worth it!

Xris (Flatbush Gardener) said...

Jennifer: You're a dedicated garden shopper! I've never tried to do a price comparison. Large woody plants are going to be the most expensive things you could buy, so shopping around for them can easily pay off. I tend to buy them smaller and grow them on, so price becomes less important to me than choice and selection.

I echo your experience. Brooklyn Terminal Market is the best place to get large numbers of annuals and such. I certainly wouldn't buy them from Chelsea. I would reserve that, Gowanus Nursery and other such "boutique" nurseries for single specimens of unusual plants I would never find at Brooklyn Terminal market. As you noted, if you're looking for something specific, you can't count on finding it at BTM.

Another place to check for annuals is the larger Greenmarkets, especially Union Square and Grand Army Plaza.

Your characterization of "dead and almost dead" plants that are "priced well" makes me laugh. It reads like the Dead Parrot Sketch.