Best Nursery 2014 | Harper's Nursery | Shopping & Services | Phoenix

Roll up to Harper's Nursery and the first thing you may think is, "Wow, this place is small." But bigger isn't always better, especially when you're looking for desert-friendly plants. Harper's has a solid stock of native Arizona plants, vegetables, succulents, trees, and cacti — not the tropical stuff shipped in from California. The resident gardeners are helpful with watering tips and general landscape care, too. They're more than happy to give you suggestions on what to plant and where to plant it on your property. Don't miss Harper's spring rose sale, during which you can get bulk orders of dozens of different types of desert-friendly rose varieties. Now get out there and plant something.

Maybe you're one of those types who's not intimidated by REI's massive selection of gear, weatherproof pants, tents, gadgets, lanterns that can charge your iPhone, and what have you, but if you're leaning more toward the beginner side of outdoor lifestyle, REI offers killer classes in Leave No Trace ethics, outdoor cooking, how to hike during an Arizona summer, bike maintenance, camp basics, and more — for free. You sign up online and get quality info. It's a great little plan on the recreation outfitter's part — after hearing about how exciting the great outdoors can be, it's hard not to go on a spending spree. You got us, REI.

No matter how many DIY bloggers you follow and YouTube tutorials you watch, sometimes it's just better to learn a new craft in person. Lucky for Valley floral fanatics, a few local pros are here to help. Wedding planner Katherine Thornhill, stylist Misha West, and florist Teresa Wilson founded Pith and Marrow to make flowers a little less intimidating — and a lot more fun. With classes on making centerpieces and farmers market arrangements, the trio have made floral design an approachable social event. Each class finds students in a new locale, whether it's Lux or Lola, and working on a new project. Though the price tag's a bit hefty (usually a couple hundred bucks), each attendee walks away with a fresh arrangement, a few drinks under her belt, and a new skill to brag about.

Nothing brings a room to life quite like fresh flowers. And if we're springing for a professional arrangement instead of whatever sad potted thing is sitting at Trader Joe's, then we are headed to Camelback Flowershop. Owned and operated by Teresa Wilson, who's exactly the kind of impossibly beautiful and personable woman you'd imagine running a flower shop, the shop's known for its exquisite offerings and artistic presentations. Whether you're splurging on a bunch of in-season peonies for a bedside table or on the hunt for a dramatic centerpiece for a dinner party, Wilson and her crew of helpful florists can make it happen — and offer same-day delivery.

Have you looked at the ingredients in your skincare products lately? How about the makeup? Between the lead, the coal tar, the animal testing, and the hard-to-pronounce chemicals, most skin-deep beauty rituals are enough to make your skin crawl. Fortunately, there's a place that caters to eco-friendly cosmetics. Citrine Natural Beauty Bar is bringing the green revolution to Phoenix one makeup brush at a time. With luxury brands like REN, Tata Harper, May Lindstrom, Coola, Kjaer Weis, and Jane Iredale, Citrine carries hard-to-find designer brands with even harder-to-find philosophies. By providing products that are all-natural, organic, dermatologist-tested, and cruelty-free, Citrine Beauty Bar breaks away from the belief that beauty is pain.

If you're the type of person who treats your dog as you would a spoiled child, this is where you go for grooming, daycare, and boarding. Formerly known as Hillside Unleashed, it was bought by the owners of Villa La Paws, hence the new name. It's still our favorite under the new owners, and they've actually made improvements to the building, including an misting system to keep dogs cool in the outdoor play area. (We told you it's for spoiled dogs.) Even if you take your pup there just for grooming, you'll be glad you did — it's like the difference between a human going to a highly rated salon and Supercuts. We dog spoilers don't mess around on things like this.

Bright blue, white, and green tiles greet the eye of Valley Ho visitors who venture to the second-floor VH Spa for Vitality and Health. This downtown Scottsdale retreat offers a variety of state-of-the-art treatments. With whatever facial, massage, or beauty package you choose, access to the steam rooms, fitness center, and spa lounges is complimentary. The Red Flower Hammam Experience ($185), for instance, pairs organic products from quince and lemon blossom with massage work, while the Mesoestetic Stem Cell Facial ($220) combats wrinkles with highly concentrated stem cell extract. Our favorite, though, is the Face Fingers Toes package ($235), which includes a facial, manicure, and pedicure.

Our pup, he's very particular. Us? We are, too. A shop we can agree on is Wag N' Wash in Scottsdale. Whether we're popping in for a nail trim and a freshly baked liver bite or to hunt for a new fluffy bed and a leash, we never seem to leave empty-handed. A grooming staff is available by appointment, but if you're more of  DIY fanatic, there's an area with tubs, soaps, aprons, and anything else you might require to suds up and primp your dog all on your own. Oh, and there's a section of feline-specific food, toys, and the only litter our very particular cat deems worthy of his paws.

In case you haven't heard, green is the new black and Tesla is the talk of the town. Ever since Arizona entered the running alongside Nevada, Texas, and New Mexico for the rising company's future 10 million-square-foot gigafactory, this luxury electric car has been receiving accolades from big-spending auto connoisseurs and cajoling congressmen alike. And though Arizona did not get the proposed $4 billion to $5 billion project (which will employ roughly 6,500 workers in Reno), thanks to our inability to pass a bill allowing Tesla to actually sell its coveted vehicles directly to the consumers (way to go, Legislature), it's not stopping shoppers at Scottsdale Fashion Square from stopping by the Tesla showroom to ooh and aah and potentially order online. Saving the environment has never been so stylish.

We'll fess up to a smidgen of bias on this one — Slippery Pig, our favorite bike shop, is right next to one of our favorite hangouts, Lux. But the Pig's a superstar in its own right — it's no customer hog, mooching off walk-over traffic from the busy cafe. About 10 years ago, the bike store came into new ownership and stopped selling classic bikes (remember Casey's Classics?) and started selling the sort that cyclists drool over. Though smaller than some other Valley shops, the interior's laid out in East Coast, pack-it-in style, complete with repair shop in the back. Specialized brand bikes are in heavy supply, but that's not a bad thing. We saw numerous mountain bikes priced at more than three grand — and looking like they're worth every penny. A decent array of fixies, snow bikes, hybrids, and cruisers complements the high-end mountain and road bikes that make up most of the stock. A manager tells us they sometimes take bicycles to sell on consignment, meaning you should keep an eye out for a good deal on a fancy used bike. It also rents bikes and carries a fine selection of bike apparel, gear, and parts. If we weren't so amped on coffee every time we go in, we'd browse all day.

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