Sunday, June 24, 2018
Features and More

Love plant shopping? A fun new nursery (and older reader favorites)

I can find almost anything online, but some things — plants and blue jeans in particular — should be fondled before buying. We need to fuss over the selection, try 'em on, ask questions. (Does this kalanchoe make my pot look too big?) • I love the variety at plant festivals — Green Thumb is April 26-27 in St. Petersburg — and club and master gardener sales (check the garden calendar Sundays in the HomeLink section). • But if you're on a gotta-have-it-now tear (been there!), you need a brick-and-mortar nursery.

So it's exciting to welcome a fun new one. Very Rarely Gardens, at 4005 S MacDill Ave. in Tampa, aims to be both shop and experience. It has affordable Florida-friendly favorites and the rare varieties that really fire up co-owner Johnnie Jones.

"This is white ixora oderata. It took me two years to find this dude. It's the most fragrant flower!" Johnnie says, guiding me on a fast-moving tour that includes lots of Latin names and extolled virtues.

"Check this out. Milky Way. The flower looks like outer space! It's so cool! ... Lignum Vitae has the hardest wood known to man. It grows 6 inches a year. They used it for the wooden gears on ships and they harvested it almost to extinction!"

There's a lot to see in this 10,000-square-foot space, including vintage yard art, birdbaths, containers and Johnnie's special recipe soil amendments. At some point, you just gotta sit down and breathe. Johnnie and his wife and co-owner, Teresa, thought of that, too. Very Rarely feels like a small park, with plenty of shade, chairs and burbling fountains.

"We want this to be a place where the community can come, where groups can meet or have events," Johnnie says. "We're hosting a fundraiser April 19 for a young lady who needs to raise money for college. We plan to have Friday evening happy hours. We'll rent it out for kids' birthday parties."

"More than anything else, we want this to be a place they can come and have fun learning," Teresa says.

So they (and you) can slip inside a magical butterfly tent. They can pet the Penelopes — three chickens currently working hard on social skills — and they can get their hands dirty with activities like a potting party to make gifts for Mother's Day. ("We'll have beer in here for Dad," Johnnie promises.)

I met Johnnie and Teresa a few years ago on a garden tour. We've been friends ever since. He's high-octane, gives back-cracking hugs and knows a thing or three about plant obsession. She's just nutty enough to be his perfect partner. (That's a compliment, Teresa!)

Together they own Sunset Beach Lawn Care and Landscaping. Before Teresa, Johnnie started the popular Bloom plant shop with his ex-wife. And before Bloom was Bloom, it was Johnnie's Southside Nursery.

"This is my last call," Johnnie says. "I'm going all out."

He is. They did.

Very Rarely Gardens is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday (casual day — bring your coffee and newspaper!) A second, smaller shop is located at Summer House Furniture, at 3620 S Manhattan Ave. in Tampa.)

Penny Carnathan can be reached at [email protected] Visit her blog, digginfloridadirt.com; chat with gardeners on Facebook at Diggin Florida Dirt; follow her on Twitter @DigginPenny.

   
Comments
Finding the fun in a family road trip

Finding the fun in a family road trip

When Matt Villano sets out on the 560-mile road trip from his home in Healdsburg, California, to San Diego in July, his game plan will be carefully crafted. When you’re traveling with three kids under age 10, you have no choice.Villano, a freelance w...
Published: 06/23/18
See Datz pastry chef Alicia Wolding on Netflix’s Sugar Rush

See Datz pastry chef Alicia Wolding on Netflix’s Sugar Rush

When Alicia Wolding joined Datz as the new executive pastry chef last year her hair was rainbow — pretty much the whole ROY G BIV spectrum in cascading tresses. More recently, it’s bright purple, somewhere between iris and lilac. This is the color yo...
Published: 06/22/18
Enjoy Israeli Couscous, Swiss Chard and Peppers warm or at room temperature

Enjoy Israeli Couscous, Swiss Chard and Peppers warm or at room temperature

By Katie WorkmanIsraeli or Mediterranean couscous are tiny balls of toasted semolina pasta that plump up when cooked into toothsome, slightly less tiny balls of pasta. They make a great base for a side or salad. You can make the couscous according to...
Published: 06/22/18
Bar review: St. Pete’s Garage is a dive with Pride

Bar review: St. Pete’s Garage is a dive with Pride

Last year’s St. Pete Pride went smoothly, despite some behind-the-scenes drama involving the decision to relocate the parade to the downtown waterfront, rather than the Grand Central District, where it had traditionally been held. After all, the Gran...
Published: 06/21/18
Local craft beer of the week: Beach Slap Piña Colada Wheat Ale from Mad Beach Craft Brewing Company

Local craft beer of the week: Beach Slap Piña Colada Wheat Ale from Mad Beach Craft Brewing Company

"Hooray, it’s summer!" exclaimed no Floridians. But if it’s summer proper and not just the usual year-round weather, you might as well embrace the heat and humidity with a trip to the beach, accompanied by some suitably refreshing beers. While you’r...
Published: 06/21/18
Wine dinners, beer projects and more will wet your whistle this summer

Wine dinners, beer projects and more will wet your whistle this summer

FILIPINO FOOD: WELCOME CHISMISHave you been to the Heights Public Market at the 73,000-square-foot Armature Works yet? It’s the buzzy food market in Tampa Heights with more than a dozen vendors offering up everything from rolled ice cream to Cuban sa...
Published: 06/20/18
On stage this week: Freefall Theatre’s ‘The Musical of Musicals,’ Jay Pharoah

On stage this week: Freefall Theatre’s ‘The Musical of Musicals,’ Jay Pharoah

SENDUP: MUSICAL OF MUSICALSFive composers, a talented cast, choreography by Cheryl Lee and music directed by Michael Raabe — that’s Freefall Theatre’s recipe for a laugh-filled, season-ending summer musical, appropriately titled The Musical of Musica...
Published: 06/20/18
Artists’ talks and Sharon Norwood’s definition of beauty

Artists’ talks and Sharon Norwood’s definition of beauty

MARK MAKING: DEFINING BEAUTYBlack, squiggly lines are at the center of multidisciplinary artist Sharon Norwood’s works, an exhibition of which titled "Defining Beauty" opens at Tempus Projects on Saturday. Norwood’s use of the line in a variety of me...
Published: 06/20/18
Here’s the skinny on the ketogenic diet: What it is, how to follow it properly

Here’s the skinny on the ketogenic diet: What it is, how to follow it properly

It started with jugs of olive oil and cans of tuna, lots of it, which my husband hauled in one day and plunked on the counter. "That’s my lunch!"That was about three months ago, and every day since there has been a new entity in our house to consider...
Published: 06/20/18
Five ideas for rainbow-themed foods to serve at your Pride party

Five ideas for rainbow-themed foods to serve at your Pride party

More than 50,000 people are estimated to attend Pride weekend in St. Petersburg, which runs Friday to Sunday. (June is LGBTQ Pride Month.) Whether you plan to march in the parade or host your own smaller gathering, we’ve selected five rainbow-themed ...
Published: 06/20/18