If I had to sum up the Worldwide Exotics experience, I would say: “Incredible plants at incredible prices with a nursery proprietor who is rather incredible herself.” The nursery is officially open to the public on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. only, but proprietor Shelly Jennings works there for at least half the day every day, typically with her co-owner and husband Ken, but without employees. It truly is a mom and pop operation, located at 11157 Orcas Avenue in Sylmar (worldwideexoticsnursery.com).
By adhering to her schedule of daily horticultural devotion, Jennings emulates the previous owner of the nursery, Gary Hammer. The plants he personally collected during travels to Mexico, Central America, Ecuador, Peru, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand – many of which he introduced to Los Angeles and have since become garden staples here — are preserved by Jennings under powerlines with tender loving care. She refers to the plants reverentially as “the Gary Hammer collection.”
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Of her plant obsession, Shelly Jennings says, “I didn’t find horticulture; horticulture found me.” Jennings was a stockbroker who, as luck would have it, lived next door to Gary Hammer. When Hammer returned from his geobotanical expeditions, he would give samples of his exotic imports to Jennings. He chose her to plant and care for them since she did not know much about plants at the time and Hammer reasoned that if they thrived in her garden, he could recommend them with enthusiasm to gardeners at large.
I once interviewed Hammer, a few years before his death, when he told me about his work ethic, a relentless routine that began at dawn and ended at dusk seven days a week, with his time divided between this nursery and another in Montebello. Other than when he was peregrinating around the globe, he kept to this uncanny routine for several decades. Gary Hammer was a man of few words who let his work speak for itself.
When I asked Hammer which plants he preferred for his own garden he answered, “Plants that require a minimum of care such as …read more
Source:: Los Angeles Daily News