Best Nursery - 2012
Laguna Hills Nursery
The Matsuoka family is legendary in South County for not only a thumb so green it's emerald, as well as for its inspiring story—Gary is a second-generation grower whose father, George, was one of many patriotic Japanese-Americans who served in World War—but also for its commitment to excellence. The Great Recession robbed the Matsuokas of their Lake Forest nursery after 40 years in the region, but that didn't discourage Gary and his wife into shutting down for good. Instead, they continue to sell their well-crafted plants, from the obvious (navel orange trees, apples) to the exotic (ghost peppers, anyone?), at the Old Towne Orange, Mission Viejo and Great Park farmers' markets—not so much for the profit as to save the industry. "We have seen the decline in quality of most of the plant material sold by retail nurseries over the past two decades," Gary writes on Laguna Hills Nursery's website under the headline "Why Continue?" "We realize that we can offer a significantly superior plant if we grow it ourselves or acquire it from growers we trust."