Gardeners cringe when bugs appear, but not Peter D’Amato. Bugs are assets to a guy who raises and sells plants of prey. As co-owner of his own little shop of horrors, Peter D’Amato’s California Carnivores in Sebastopol is a nursery that specializes in carnivorous plants. His passion for the hungry flora began at age 11 when he found a bug-eating plant in a southern New Jersey bog. Nearly four decades later, the Sebastopol business owner is still left breathless with excitement when discussing his product.
Visitors are astounded by the mechanisms the plants use to snag prey. Consider the Venus Flytrap—its nectar lures the unsuspecting to a trigger-hair-filled trap that snaps shut with lightning speed. The Sundew envelops victims in tentacle-covered leaves, then hungrily feasts. In the nursery, the voracious plants snag bees, flies, fungus gnats and other tasty bits. When bugs are in short supply, D’Amato encourages customers to “Bring Your Own Bugs” (BYOB) to feed the stealthy plants. The nursery supplies utensils for feeding and magnifying glasses for jaw-dropping, up close views.
The widest variety of carnivorous plants and plant care products in the United States are offered for sale, as well as D’Amato’s best selling book, The Savage Garden, now in its eighth printing. California Carnivores is one of 29 spots in North America recently selected by Rand McNally editors in the Best of the Road™ awards program. The annual program recognizes local restaurants, shops and attractions along five recommended road trips. The nursery also appears frequently on many TV shows and magazines as a popular tourist attraction. California Carnivores is located at 2833 Old Gravenstein Highway in Sebastopol, (707) 824-0433.