Summer Winds Nursery Fire

Summer Winds, a local nursery in the Almaden area of San Jose, burned to the ground late last night. I’m stunned.  The cause is under investigation, but they think it was an accident.  Summer Winds, formerly Woolworth Garden Center, has been there for 40 years.

Nurseries, I fear, are a dying breed.  Many of the big box stores have garden centers, but it’s not the same as a nursery dedicated to all things plants.  The Summer Winds gift shop was also a lot of fun.  I especially enjoyed browsing there around the holidays.  The nursery sold a wide selection of decorative pots, along with annuals, vegetables and garden fountains.  In May of this year, I was shopping at Summer Winds when a hummingbird darted into the store.  Oblivious to me and a handful of employees, she landed on a decorative arbor.  She was busy building a nest right in the middle of the store!  I couldn’t get my camera phone out fast enough to capture her flight, but I did take a picture of the nest.

Hummingbird Nest at Summer Winds Nursery

Hummingbird Nest at Summer Winds Nursery, May 15, 2012

Summer is at an end, so I’m taking comfort in the fact that the nest would be empty by now.  She may have reconsidered the location in the first place.  With all that activity she probably decided to nest elsewhere.

The after-hours fire started around midnight with no reported injuries.  Although the fire department was quickly on the scene, they took the unusual step of letting the fire burn itself out.  Knowing the store was full of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, they wanted to avoid ground water contamination of nearby Guadalupe River.

It’s a sad day for gardeners in the Valley.  I hope they rebuild.
Details of the fire in the Mercury News.

11 thoughts on “Summer Winds Nursery Fire

  1. Oh no, that’s a shame, especially for the staff who worked there and will have to look for work. I think they made the right call to let it burn out rather than spread the chemicals to perhaps a water way. I imagine they were insured, but rough for the business owners too. I hope no one or animals were hurt. Greenland has several on-site kitty-cats who laze around in the plants. Takes me ages to shop because I have to stop and visit with them all. Maybe they’ll rebuild. It’s funny, we used to have Woolworths downtown in a really old building, long gone but I still have a lot of vintagey glass xmas ornaments I bought there (probably had them around for years).


  2. I remember Woolworth’s from my childhood, too. They were around for 100 years I think. The Summer Winds Nursery in Campbell use to have a store cat named Buster. We made it a game to find him whenever we were there. When he died, they had such an outpouring of support. We had taken a photo of Buster so were able to share it with the other memorial items. I love shops with animals.

    I thought about the employees who work there, too. I wonder is store insurance extends at all to them? I’ll let you know what I hear further in the news.


  3. So sad… we have quite a few nurseries in England because keen gardeners want unusual plants that will survive for more than a couple of months! The mass produced supermarket plants are cheap and cheerful but weak. The bonus is that the staff at nurseries are generally very knowledgeable (as are fellow customers who are happy to chat about slugs and compost!!).
    I hope they manage to rebuild – they must be devastated.


    • I’m sure they are devastated. I love nurseries. I wish I had visited one of yours when I was in England back in ’89. I saw so much beauty in your country, including Stratford-Upon-Avon, Grasmere, and many parts of the Lake District. Beatrice Potter was a woman ahead of her time.


  4. I do hope that the nursery will be rebuilt… I would have thought insurance would cover such a thing, so I guess it depends on the will of the owners as much as anything. If there aren’t many nurseries where you are, then I would have thought business would be good enough to want to.


  5. I am deeply saddened by the news of your nursery fire. I too have come to depend on our local nursery for quality plants and knowledge that is unsurpassed. I no longer purchase from big box stores for that reason. Most people have no idea what a prime service their local garden nursery provides.Everything changes, and hopefully they will rebuild and be even better. M


  6. Pingback: SummerWinds Fire Update | gardeningnirvana

  7. Pingback: SummerWinds Nursery Fire Sale Raises Donations for SJFBF | gardeningnirvana

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