Dave and Nancy Cavanaugh
234 Webb Road
Watsonville CA 95076
[Not open to the public]
Markets: MPC and Aptos
Products: Perennial ornamental flowering plants, hanging basket plants, drought-tolerant plants, shade plants, seasonally available annual color and potted arrangements. Available in 4-inch, 1-gallon, 3-gallon and 5-gallon pots as well as 6-pack containers.
Perennial ornamental flowering plants: more than 50 species including begonia, dahlia, fuchsia, salvia, pelargonium, lavender, kangaroo paw, brugmansia [angel’s trumpet], alstroemeria, penstemon, verbena, African daisies, felicia and coral bells.
Hanging basket plants: a variety including parrot’s beak, fuchsia, begonia, ivy geranium, scaevola [fan flower] and lobelia.
Drought-tolerant plants: a selection of grasses and succulents. Grasses include festuca, pennisetum, phormium and cordyline; succulents include echeveria, kalanchoe, sedum and crassula.
Shade plants: fern, begonia and fuchsia.
Seasonally available annual color: a number of species including ranunculus, cyclamen, poinsettia, viola, pansies, primrose, linaria, lobelia and petunia.
Potted arrangements: a variety of succulents, seasonal color and holiday-themed arrangements.
History/Philosophy: In the early 1970s, Southern California residents Dave and Nancy Cavanaugh established Flower Street Nursery, a small nursery and retail store located in Costa Mesa.
A horticulture graduate of Cal Poly Pomona, Dave began changing the focus of the business from selling to growing. After an extensive search throughout California for an appropriate parcel of land on which to grow their plants, the couple purchased 10 acres in Watsonville in 1978 and started Hawaiian Tropicals, a nursery specializing in protea and other tropical plants.
Solely a wholesale business at the time, the nursery eventually moved away from growing tropical plants and began focusing on annuals and perennials to meet local retail demand. In the mid-1980s, the couple changed the nursery’s name to Cavanaugh Color.
In 2000, the couple’s son Jon took a more active role in the business. In 2002, Jon decided to test the waters of selling to customers directly by taking plants to the Santa Cruz Flea Market. The experiment was successful, and Cavanaugh Color began selling at farmers markets in both the South Bay and the Monterey Bay areas. The nursery became a member of the MBCFM in 2005.
Roughly 25 percent of sales come from farmers markets with the remainder coming from wholesale accounts. The nursery has four full-time employees, all of whom have been with the nursery for more than 20 years. Another four are brought on for seasonal work; six additional workers sell at the farmers markets weekly.
With Jon as the general manager, Dave continues to monitor operations while Nancy works as the sales manager and shares the accounting duties with Jon. The couple’s daughter Katie also helps with the business on occasion.
A mom-and-pop operation, the Cavanaugh family prides itself on its customer service and product quality. Plants are propagated from seeds and cuttings, rather than from starts. The numerous varieties are sown and nurtured at the nursery, which is approximately 50-50 in terms of greenhouse and outdoor growing environments.
A poster hanging on the nursery’s office wall sums up the family’s wish for its customers: “Flowers to brighten your home and to warm your heart from Cavanaugh Color.”