Downtown Ventura garden center celebrates 1-year anniversary

If you haven’t been to A Smart Garden nursery yet, you are missing out. This hidden gem is located near the Mission in Downtown Ventura, just 50 yards south of Main Street at 33 S. Palm. Owner Cari Vega has curated a garden center for the 21st century, where chemical treatments are a thing of the past and organics are simply common sense, not a newfangled fad. To that end, the nursery’s soils, fertilizers, sprays, seeds and vegetable starts are organic only.

The store is located in a cavernous brick building dating back to the 1890’s with huge windows, high ceilings with exposed wood beams and big skylights. It exudes a palpable charm that customers regularly comment on, and houses the nursery’s selection of houseplants, pottery, gardening tools, decorative items and a splash of antiques. It also doubles as the garden center’s classroom.

Since opening just over a year ago, A Smart Garden has hosted an impressive 32 gardening classes and workshops in the main building. In addition to teaching many of the classes herself—including the popular succulent wreath workshop–Vega regularly recruits other local gardening experts to share their gardening expertise on topics including California native plants, beneficial insects, edible landscapes, greywater systems, drip irrigation and other environmentally-focused topics. “Classes have been a terrific way of meeting local residents and getting a feel for what’s important to them in gardening,” says Vega. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response to both the classes and the overall mission of the nursery,”

The outdoor nursery is stocked with a wide selection of drought-tolerant, low-maintenance plants displayed in a beautiful courtyard setting. “We want to make it as easy as possible for customers to succeed in their gardening efforts without drawing excessively on our limited water supply, so we focus on carrying plants that will perform well in our area with minimal care and minimal water,” Vega says. That includes everything from trees to groundcovers and dozens of California native plants from local grower Nopalito Natives.

To help the community recover from the effects of the Thomas Fire, A Smart Garden has instituted a special discount for residents who are replacing items lost in the fire. “The fire impacted all of us, so if we can help each other get back to normal we are all stronger for it.” Vega continued, “Together we can have a tremendous positive impact on our local and global environments. We’re looking forward to a long and successful collaboration here in Ventura.”

A Smart Garden nursery owner Cari Vega’s 30-year career in horticulture has included floral design for film and television set decorating, interior landscaping, landscape design/consultation/maintenance, and teaching a wide range of gardening classes.

For more information, please contact Cari Vega at 667-8585.

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