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Another One Bites The Dust

by germinatrix | September 3rd, 2010

farewell, Morigan Nursery. so sad to see you go.

Unfortunately, another independent nursery in Los Angeles is closing. This time it isn’t because of the bad economy – this was a thriving nursery – but the owners have decided that the property, located on 3rd and Fairfax in Hollywood, would be better if developed into another restaurant/shopping mall complex. Because clearly there aren’t enough of THOSE in Los Angeles.

Of course I understand why a family would want to maximize their investment – nurseries, while incredibly valuable to those of us who patronize them, aren’t huge money makers. But Mordigan’s was an oasis in the middle of a concrete jungle of concentrated retail overload. Yes, it was also a retail space, but let’s face it – a location selling plants and assorted planting supplies is a refreshing difference from the sea of stores selling us clothes, more clothes, fancy knick knacks, more clothes, and even more clothes. It was a little green island of garden goodness.

just a few leftover plants waiting to be purchased at close-out prices

It is SO sad to see a nursery fold, no matter why it is closing. Seeing everything be sold, bit by bit – all the plants, all the trellises , the pots … yes, they are going to good homes for rock bottom prices, but now another source for good, well cared for plants and solid advice is gone. More and more people in the LA area will have to shop out of big box stores out of necessity rather than because of an emergency or whim. (what do you mean “what kind of an emergency could warrant the immediate purchasing of a plant?” I can think of TONS)

I’ve written before about the sad state of affairs that is the retail nursery situation in Los Angeles, and it is now even worse. One high-end nursery, Rolling Greens, did open up a satellite location in Hollywood, not far from the erstwhile Mordigan’s site – but they are a totally different ball of twine. That is where one would go to get perfect specimens for a photo shoot, or to trick out your “outdoor room” with the fancy things that “outdoor rooms” call for.  If you want good plants at reasonable prices with knowledgeable advice to go with them, well – there is one less place to go.

sad little turtles hoping for a home

How unfortunate, just when gardening is having a renaissance, the owners of Mordigan Nursery decided it was better to pursue a different way to use that prime piece of real estate. It has always seemed strange to me that this city, which should be chock full of places to buy plants, has so few. I’m lucky – as a designer I have access to wholesale sources and growers – but I love the spirit and energy of a well thought out, well run retail nursery. A good nursery can be a garden hub – a place that is the center of a vibrant community of gardeners and plant lovers – a place to go to get inspired and talk with others who have the same passion you do. I know what these nurseries look like – I’ve seen them! They are treasures. Every city deseves at LEAST one!

Where is LA’s?

Sigh. Goodbye, Mordigan Nursery. You served your community well. Too bad that ended.

this space will soon be a strip mall.

** A very special THANK YOU to intrepid reporter and dear friend Carla Denker, who alerted me to the sad event, and took all of the pictures in this post.

12 Responses to “Another One Bites The Dust”

  1. Oh, that bites, Germi. It’s not fair how underserved you L.A. gardeners are, when we in Austin have such an abundance. I should knock on wood, having said that. You never know when or where a strip mall will seem a better use of space than one’s favorite nursery.

  2. Sad,sad,sad!

    Hi G…What is going on up there in LA? You will soon have to fly down to Austin to obtain your plants!!! Hey, not such a bad thing, I know somebody who would love this :-)


  3. Dear Germi
    I feel your pain and disappointment.
    Another mall! One less nursery :-(

  4. I KNOW, Pam! It just keeps getting worse and worse. I am beginning to thing I am going to have to be the one to do something about the situation instead of complaining about it all the time. Maybe this Texan needs to bring a little Austin retail nursery style to LA – hmmm…

    Thanks Loree. It is sad – I was shocked when I heard, because this was an old nursery. How strange that the owners suddenly decided it would be better to be a landlord for knock-off designer clothing boutiques! Sheesh!

    ESP!!! I would of course need to have my own jet to bring back the haul of goodies. Not a bad idea! Maybe I could get a sleek black and silver jet so that me and my lovely little sidekick could do skywriting fly-bys over the East Side Patch – THERE’S an idea! I’d better start selling books NOW, if we’re going to make THAT happen…

    Sweet Tendril! Can you believe it – a nursery for a MALL? It is a travesty. Boo. LA is a little less greener now. XOXO – thanks for stopping in!!!

  5. As urban land becomes more and more valuable, nurseries like this one are going to have to be creative to survive the lust for more clothes, more coffee, more consumerist crapola. One idea that might fly is roof space. There is at least one huge NYC rooftop farm that has classes and a market and is thriving so why can’t a garden center? Forget about the loads and logistics for the up and down for now, but it could be a cool solution don’t you think? In LA the whole damn thing could be solar powered year round.

  6. Don’t you just HATE that? Even when you can score a bunch of plants at ridiculous prices, it isn’t even fun because you’re so sad. I always feel guilty, too. That last photo, with the office chair just kind of lurking by the fence is so sad….

  7. I think this just opens up an opportunity for you! Open that ultimate store you’ve always dreamed about. Hell PUT a coffee shop in it. Having just gotten back from a week in Germany/Austria, I want to open up a Wine or Bier garten — but with a garden center attached! Not sure that’s a business plan that can get easily funded, but it’s nice to dream.

    We’re fortunate to have an awesome urban garden center in Buffalo. We count our lucky stars they’re bucking national trends.

  8. I’ve read that the nursery is the job, and the land the nursery is on is the retirement account. At least this one wasn’t because of the dreadful economy. Still sad though.

    And why would anyone want clothes when you can buy plants?

  9. Germi!

    I know a perfect Eastside location, right here in the ‘hood. Let’s do it! We’ve all been in a permanent state of semi-depression since Hortus closed. Economy may be bad but with the lack of venues I think ther would be a good clientelle….just waiting for a well curated nursery. With tea. And a monthly seed exchange. C’mon!

  10. That’s so sad. Another one bites the dust! I am one of those people who regularly has a ‘I need a plant ASAP’ emergency. I am luck to live somewhere between the city and the country, where there are still a lot of these independent nursery’s serving their customers well. I don’t know what I’d do without my local nursery.

  11. Susan – THAT is the kind of place I’m dreaming of – INSPIRING and interactive! We used to have a wonderful nursery here, one that went way beyond being just a place to buy plants. With space at SUCH a premium in NYC, that fact that Rooftop Farms is thriving is so fantastic! damn! Why can’t that happen here in LA? It’s the vision thing. I get very inspired by visiting fantastic retail nurseries – it isn’t just about having plants for sale. It is like what they are doing there on the roof in NYC – sharing, educating, creating a new social space. YES! Thank you SO much for sharing this link! XO!!
    (and by the way, everyone – Susan is one of the newest Contributing Editors for Horticulture Magazine!!! Is that FANTASTIC or WHAT?)

    Well well well – if it isn’t the OTHER newest Contributing Editor for Horticulture Magazine! Did you and Susan C. coordinate your comments? Oh Sweet One, it was SO sad… Mordigan was an institution for gardeners living in the Hollywood/ Mid-City area. And the photos perfectly expressed the bleakness. I love getting plants at good prices, but I will GLADLY pay to support a good nursery – right? That is where the guilt comes from. Even though it didn’t close b/c of hard times, I still felt like I could have been more supportive. Considering how few places we have to buy plants these days, every loss is HUGE. Thank you for feeling my pain, Brain Twin! XOXO!

    Jim, you and my friend Laura are on the same page, and I think I am heading there, too! It might just be time… and if I do it, there WILL be coffee in it … and snacks! A social/educational/retail nursery!!!

    Hoover Boo – okay I laughed as I typed your name. I just had to say that so we could laugh together! YES – I can appreciate them wanting to cash in … but for a WALGREENS? Or the GAP? I don’t know. It irks me SO BADLY! I would MUCH rather have plants than clothes. I can make clothes out of plants if I need to, but never visa versa. Thanks for stopping by!

    Laura Doll – We need to talk. This may be something that needs to happen. It can’t happen just right now for me, but with some good planning and a few targeted spells … we might be onto something! It’s true, Hortus STILL haunts me, and it’s time to move forward! XOXO!!!

    Hey Laura! Plant emergencies DO exist! You ARE lucky – I have to drive more than an hour to get to the nursery that makes my heart go pitter-pat. Next time you are at your local nursery, tell the owner how much you appreciate them! I’m sure it will make their day … :-)

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