SOLANA BEACH — Twenty-two years after putting down roots in Solana Beach, Cedros Gardens is closing its doors.
Owner Mia McCarville opened her business in 1993 as a pesticide-free nursery offering unusual plants.
“My parents didn’t like any chemicals in our diet,” she said. “We didn’t really include processed food so I guess I have a foundation toward that direction. We don’t sell any chemicals here.”
McCarville was born and raised in Japan. She met her future husband and business partner, Michael, in the 1970s when he was a teacher at the American School in Japan.
After living briefly in Colorado they moved to Encinitas in 1980.
McCarville spent time selling real estate and working for a Japanese investor.
“Then I remembered that I liked plants because my parents directed my interest in gardens and vegetables when I was little,” she said. “So I started a little shop inside Sunshine Gardens in Encinitas. About 14 months later I found the property for rent here and then started a small garden shop right around an old building that was built in 1926.”
That was long before Cedros Avenue “became so trendy,” she said. During the early years the closest business was half a block away.
During the next two decades McCarville took over the rent when adjacent lots became available, eventually branching out into the 1-acre property where Cedros Gardens now sits.
She started off selling unique perennials. “That was my thing when I first opened,” she said.
McCarville offered different varieties of salvias, plants common in English gardens “because the drought wasn’t quite as severe as it is now” and Japanese garden materials.
Today fruit trees are popular with her customers, some who come from Orange County, she said.
Cedros Gardens once earned the distinction as one of the four best small nurseries in the western states, and one of only two in California, according to Sunset Magazine. It also received a write-up in the Los Angeles Times.
McCarville credits her success to the fact that Cedros Gardens doesn’t just sell plants and trees.
“It’s not just schlepping out the plants to their car,” she said. “We help with design. I go out to the homes and do consultations and design. People come in all the time with questions if their plants aren’t doing well.”
To further help customers McCarville maintains a blog on her website that offers gardening advice. She also has a Facebook page. Both will remain active after the nursery closes, which will be somewhat bittersweet.
“I won’t miss the daily operations,” she said. “But I’ll miss the interaction with customers. And I just love plants. I will miss being surrounded by plants.”
McCarville said she will also miss the people who have helped make her business a success.
At its peak Cedros Gardens employed 13 people. McCarville currently has seven full- and part-time employees, including one who has worked for her for 16 years.
“The climate of running a retail nursery has gotten difficult,” she said, citing drought conditions, big-box stores and “of course, the ’08 economic downturn” for the closure.
Beginning Sept. 5 everything will be 50 percent off until the inventory is sold out, hopefully by the end of October.
“When it’s gone we will close,” she said. “Thank you so much for supporting Cedros Gardens for so many years.”