Becca turned me on to this site, which I thought was kinda cool, Place and Memory. It is a wiki of places that no longer exist. How awesome is that, and useful too. Well, for those of us who are fixated on recapturing our once glorious past, it is perfectly cathartic. And recorded versions of stories make it onto NPR. In any case, the very first place I thought of when I saw the site was Yosemite Nursery in Fresno, and I wrote the Entry below. Though I would encourage you to read it at the site and make your own entry about a place that no longer exists.
My family moved to the neighborhood when I was about 5 years old. We lived on Griffith Way. At the top of the street was Hwy 41/Blackstone Ave, and there on the corner was this amazing place. It was an amazing nursery with a large variety of plants, trees, soil, mulches and so on. It was owned by a Japanese family and their house was on the Griffith side of the property, with the nursery sprawling behind it. In front of the house was a koi pond, or series of ponds, with connecting streams and Japanese bridges, meticulously pruned black pines and other topiary.
The parking lot was on the Blackstone side. At the back of it stood the business office and covered areas for shade plants, bonsai, and also the fish hatchery! There was a series of troughs with koi, goldfish, etc. I seem to remember that they were segregated by size to some extent. Around the outside of the parking lot, along the street were huge piles of feather rock for sale. Feather rock is volcanic rock that has a sponge-like structure, which makes it very light for its size. It is also essentially glass, which means it is very easy to get cut up when you climb on it, as we often did. I remember that that it came in two different colors, a glossy black, and a more muted gray.
Down the block from the house on the Griffith side was a series of large stalls containing different soils and mulches, and so on. There was tractor that was used for loading material into customers’s trucks. I still remember clearly the sweet, bourbon-y smell of the redwood forest humus.
Behind all this lay the vast (to a kid) interior of rows and rows of trees and plants, hiding places, and mysterious objects. I loved going there with my parents and running off to throw pennies, or just pebbles, into the koi pond, to look at all the curious, colorful figurines and statues for sale, to get lost in the backwoods, and to feel the cool, damp soil between my toes on a scorching Fresno summer day.
Fresno continued to grow northward, and what was once a north gate on Hwy 41 heading to Yosemite, became a rural holdout in the middle of the city. Eventually, I don’t remember exactly when, the place closed and the property was developed into an L-shaped strip mall.