What is With the Mushroom?

Magnolia Gift and GardenIf a curiously spotted dome of tangerine orange and golden yellow rising over the wall of the nursery has recently arrested your eye as you approached East Avenue on Mariposa, then let us put your mind at rest. No, the Mothership hasn’t landed. The giant metal mushroom that has arrived on our grounds is a piece of California history. Nursery co-owner Chris Hunter is an avid fan of American Pickers; a discriminating customer well-known to Northstate antique dealers. Artifacts of bygone eras as diverse as wooden spring harrows, suspending hanging plants, or massive parlor doors, setting off lush tropicals in our gift shop, are sprinkled around Magnolia. Additionally, the young (or young at heart) are sure to discover the two brightly colored ladybug cars in our retail display area. After a decade and a remarkable chain of events, these cheery arthropods are about to be reunited with their siblings.

Magnolia Gift and Garden

It all started a few years ago, when Chris saw the iconic bugs appear in a Craigslist advertisement. He contacted the seller, and discovered that they were original cars from a ride at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, dating back to the 1960’s. Shipped to Paradise to be repainted by a local craftsman, the set, originally numbering six ladybugs and—you guessed it—a giant mushroom, was never paid for or collected. Rather an unwieldy collection to store, the artist attempted to liquidate the ride at a garage sale. Unable to find a buyer for the entire family, he separated the pieces, selling two of the cars to Chris’ contact, who was in turn listing them eight years later.

The yellow and orange beetles found a ready home at the nursery, where children love to hunt for them among the winding paths lined with plants on every visit. But in 2010, a customer recognized the distinctive ladybugs. Coincidentally, her family had purchased the rest of the set at the garage sale. Over the winter, the fate of the siblings was discussed, Chris arranged to buy the remaining pieces. This spring, the original Boardwalk ride will be once again be complete, here on our grounds. Whether it will ever be restored to a functioning merry-go-round is still debatable, but it is certain that this piece of regional history will provide a charmingly original landmark in North Chico for customers of all ages to enjoy. And Chris will continue combing road shows, warehouses, barns and classifieds for strange and unusual antiquities…

Magnolia Gift and Garden

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