Crimson Horticultural Rarities Expands in Temescal Alley
The first incarnation of Crimson Horticultural Rarities was a seedling of a shop, a delightful but miniscule establishment in Oakland’s Temescal Alley measuring about 250 square feet. Yet despite the limited space, founder Allison Futeral managed to create a botanical wonderland. If you turned left, your elbow grazed a tiny terrarium; right and you caught the scent of lavender.
With business in bloom, however, Futeral and business partner Lonna Lopez needed a bigger space to give themselves, and their living wares, room to breathe. The pair recently acquired a new space just a few doors down that, at 750 square feet, enables them to showcase exquisite new home and garden accessories, as well as a plethora of new plant specimens. “We wanted to keep the shop as cozy as possible, to keep the same warm and inviting feel,” says Futeral. “In our old space, you could barely shop, but everyone would say, ‘How amazing! It smells so good!’ We still wanted it to feel like you were engulfed in this little world.”
Now, with plenty of room to wander among the tendrils and leaves, Crimson is a wonderful place to linger and learn. Ensconced amidst the plants and natural objects are fragrances by San Francisco-based L’Aromatica (with scents like Big Sur and Madrone); hand-printed goods by Austin Press and Rifle Paper; Felco pruning shears; Japanese Saboten trowels; and cutting boards by Oakland’s Luke Jensen, who also crafted Crimson’s beautiful, rough-hewn wooden shelving. Futeral and Lopez also have a lovely selection of books and journals on offer, for those who prefer armchair gardening.
In addition, the space is headquarters for the pair’s burgeoning garden-design practice. They are at work on several residential projects, including the Oakland home of jewelry designer Lauren Wolf, founder of Esqueleto, a neighboring Temescal Alley boutique. The third branch of the duo's enterprise is wedding floral design; their bouquets and arrangements have a cool, organic sensibility, marrying lush peonies and roses with earthy elements including bleached horns, feathers and succulents.
And for those who lack green thumbs, chin up: The warm welcome all receive upon crossing the threshold will likely inspire even the most dirt-averse to pick up a roll of Nutscene twine. Notes Lopez: “I’m of the opinion if you have a pickax, a Hori Hori knife and a good pair of Felcos, you can do almost anything but plant a tree.”
A version of this article appeared in the March 2014 issue of San Francisco Cottages & Gardens with the headline: Hot House Flowering.