Califonia Bountiful

Progressive nursery specializes in unusual plants

Trent and Linda McNair never intended to get into farming as a profession.

Trent and Linda McNair never intended to get into farming as a profession.

But, after a combined quarter-century in the high-tech industry, the couple moved to Santa Cruz, to transform an old egg ranch into Surf City Growers, a nursery aimed at making gardening as simple and enjoyable as possible for their customers.

The plants grown at Surf City are a little off the beaten path, including echinacea, lavender, red rubin basil and the blood flower, which provides food for Monarch butterflies.

"California is ideal," Trent said. "There are so many microclimates here, you can try anything anywhere, depending on where you are, and probably get away with it. California is just incredible as far as growing plants."

With their computer background, Trent and Linda operate a Web site, which makes it easy for their customers to select plants right for their climate. They have also created theme gardens, including plants that attract hummingbirds, are drought-tolerant or deer-resistant, among other offerings.

Surf City is an organic farm, and they have found a successful way make their plants hearty through worm castings (also known as worm manure).

Because Surf City is an Internet-based business, customers can order via the Web site or even have plants delivered to various locations in Santa Cruz County. Customers can also visit the nursery and shop in person, from mid-April through November.

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