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10:49 a.m. Sunday: Best Place to Buy Rare, Unusual, and Heirloom Flower Specimens 

Annie's Annuals

For East Bay "flower floozies," Annie's enormous North Richmond nursery is the mother lode. Annie's Annuals is a wholesale grower whose wares -- a staggering array of hard-to-find floral varieties from around the world as well as California natives -- are available in limited quantities in many local outlets. But to appreciate fully the scope of Annie's innovative operation, a visit to her own nursery is in order. Almost all of her plants are sold in four-inch pots (annuals $3, perennials $4). A photograph of each in full flower is displayed along with her handwritten comments on provenance and cultivation. Consequently, informed decisions can be made about hundreds of heretofore-unknown penstemons, linarias, aquilegias, papavers, and other beauties. Annie's Annuals is open to the public 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. almost every weekend year-round (check Web site for details). Open houses held on selected dates, such as the May 10-11 Mother's Day weekend, offer contests, prizes, and free plants, and draw large crowds. But the average Sunday morning is ideal for quiet browsing. Allow at least an hour, then go home and get planting.


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