Laguna Hills Nursery is currently operated by Gary and Nancy Matsuoka. George and Grace Matsuoka, Gary's deceased parents, were the founders of the business.
George was born in California, but spent his youth in Japan. His father sent George and his brother Tom back to the US at the start of WWII, because he knew Japan had no chance against America. George spent WWII in the US Army. After the war he held many jobs but became a gardener by the time he was married. He soon saw that store owners made more money and purchased H&M Nursery in Pasadena in 1954 and renamed it Fair Oaks Gardens. Gary grew up watching his father grow and sell plants. Gary's uncle, Tom Matsuoka, was an award-winning landscaper and the two brothers worked on many projects together. In 1968 George had an oppurtunity to sell his business and move it to a new community. At the time the city of Pasadena had more than 20 retail nurseries.
George bought 8 acres of land in El Toro and opened Laguna Hills Nursery in 1970. Gary and his siblings worked there on weekends and during summers while attending high school. The nursery became successful within a few years.
Gary did not intend to become part of the business until he was a year into graduate school (medical research) at the University of Texas. He returned in 1978 determined to become the best nurseryman possible. In 1988 he married Nancy Miller, whom he had hired the year before as a manager. By 1994, Nancy and Gary were in charge of the business, when Gary's parents experienced health problems. Gary took charge of running the nursery and Nancy took care of the finances and the staff.
Gary started researching and developing his own ideas about Horticulture in 1995. He credits Nancy for being CFO and manager so that he could perfect his skills at propagating, growing, product development, marketing and teaching. By the late 1990's Laguna Hills Nursery was thriving. It was known for the quality and selection of roses, fruit trees, ornamental trees and perennials.
Unfortunately by 2007 both of Gary's parents had passed on and the nursery's property had to be sold to settle the family's estate. Gary and Nancy moved Laguna Hills Nursery to Foothill Ranch in 2008 for a year, then leased back the old property in 2009. They closed the store by May 2010 to comply with a court order to allow their financially strapped landlord to sell the property.
Gary and Nancy spent the next 4 years selling at local farmers markets. In 2013 they decided to find a retail location and open another garden center.
HISTORY OF LAGUNA HILLS NURSERY
We have seen the decline in quality of most of the plant material sold by retail nurseries over the last 3 decades. This is due to several factors. Competition in the market place is good if the public is knowledgable about quality. Certainly we have seen the competition among automobile manufacturers raise the design and quality of cars to a high level. In fact healthy competition has raised the quality of many items we purchase because organizations like Consumer Reports have done an excellent job concerning performance over the life of the product.
Unfortunately plant growers are quite small and too numerous to have any comparative studies done. Also plant research projects are only funded for several months, whereas plant problems often don't become apparent for several years.
Virtually all container plants offered at the retail level are defective. The substrate the plants are grown in is based on temporary materials like wood shavings, finely ground bark, peat moss or some other form of compost. Initially these substrates can support vigorous growth, however all of these materials continue to decompose after installation. The original substrate soon shrinks, becomes less permeable and often toxic. The roots suffer and the plant, if it survives, usually exhibits stunted growth and small, off-colored foliage for many years.
Plants in Nature grow in soil called loam. Loam is generally more than 98% mineral. Compost does not become soil. (click on the button SOIL INFO for details) Container plants were originally grown in sandy loam or sand. Growing plants in compost was originally developed for annual flowers (florist trade) but unfortunately adopted by woody plant growers in order to lower shipping weight.
Here at Laguna Hills Nursery our purpose is to provide correct information, plants and products that perform at maximum potential, which enables our clients to garden effectively and efficiently. Our goal is to offer significantly superior plants by growing them ourselves or acquiring them from growers we trust.