Urban Oases -- Open Garden

Today began with me dribbling coffee on my computer keyboard and then believing for most of the morning that I would have to buy a new computer. Then it was all about lost tickets, confusing directions, and one painfully protracted episode of slapstick "comedy" where I very nearly dropped my camera on the sidewalk but managed not to by almost catching it several times, each time managing to throw it into the air again like some klutzy juggler with Parkinson's Disease. Watching this, Guy said, "Okay, you need to re-center yourself." I think I managed to do so.

But let's not discuss any of that.

Today, we took in some open gardens.

Shall we?

First, some prefatory notes. These are small, urban gardens in San Francisco. Some of them are smaller than my garden, and my garden is about 500 sq. ft. I found this tour very empowering. If these people can cram in so much garden interest into their space, so can I, even if I would pick different plants for the most part.

Now, then.

Garden #1. "The sheltered microclimate of this garden helps to showcase plants that are rare, tropical, or sub-tropical...transporting the visitor to a cloud forest."








Garden #2 is not so much a garden, as an outdoor room that succeeds at feeling very private despite having a very non-private environment in terms of neighboring houses and views. "Tucked away behind an imposing row of Edwardian homes, this garden features multiple levels and small garden rooms all set into a hillside with outstanding stonework and tasteful plantings. The serene Asian-influenced under-story garden is connected by a spiral staircase to an upper terrace of lush Mediterranean-climate plantings."

At the end of a long, dark corridor, you emerge through a trap-door.


Seriously, a trap-door.





The spiral staircase leads up to a patio and hot tub.


The stonework looks like drystack (no mortar), but the rocks are fixed. Me likee.



Garden #3. "A typical Haight Ashbury Edwardian is home to this historic garden featuring huge, magnificent century-old rhododendrons...alongside an original greenhouse, still in use, that dates back from the construction of the home."










(Note: Most if not all the plants in the greenhouse could be grown outdoors in San Francisco. They look nice in here tho'. I wonder if they leave them in here all the time, or massed them like this for the tour.)



Monstera deliciosa. (This plant makes a brief appearance behind Judi Dench in Notes on a Scandal.)











Garden #4. "Adjoining Tank Hill, this garden transitions from native windswept outcroppings to lush and textural perennial beds."


She said this restio is ten years old and she's never done anything to it.






(She has three big, full compost bins in the very back.)





Garden #5. "This garden centers around mosaics and tile work designed by Jeffery Bale. A clawfoot bathtub luxuriates amid woodland plantings. South African natives occupy sunny nooks. Mirrors and a disco ball accent this outdoor entertaining space."














Happy Mother's Day (if you're someone's mom)!


Delphine said...

Dans l'ordre de préférence :
1 et 5 ex-aecquo pour l'exotisme
Le 2 est très zen, j'aime aussi.

Merci pour l'open garden's tour, Chuck !

Et toi ? tu ouvres ton jardin parfois ?

JvA said...

Yeah, Chuck. You should open your garden to a bunch of looky-loos sometime! Does your neighborhood have a garden tour?

Annie in Austin said...

This was a lot of fun for your readers, as well as for you and Guy.
You cracked me up with the 'empowering' remark, Chuck - that's a pretty good word, but the actual term for using the 'more-is-more' style of these gardens to validate our own collecting habits would be 'enabling', ha!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

chuck b. said...

There are things I liked about all of the gardens, but I don't feel like I personally connected to any of them.

Garden 1 is nice for cramming in lots of plants. But doing that with mountain tropicals and semi-tropicals is the easiest thing in the world in San Francisco. I enjoyed visiting this garden, but I wouldn't want to spend a long periods of time in it.

Garden #2 was too tidy and non-gardeny. I appreciate the challenges this garden design resolved, but it wasn't a place I'd want to spend a lot of time in myself. I loooved the stonework.

Garden #3 had a one-hundred-year-old rhododendron and greenhouse! I *love* that you can find stuff like that in San Francisco. Otherwise, I felt there was too much hardscape and not enough plants (I couldn't capture that in a picture). If I had that garden, I would take up the hardscape (except for that around the old rhodies) and plant it up some more. It seemed weird to have such an underutilized greenhouse. I'd be growing huge ariads, and warm-season vegetables in there like eggplant and melon--crops you can not grow in San Francisco. I would even take up orchids, and I don't care for orchids much.

Garden #4 was closest to my heart--with its lightly managed perennials set against the rugged outcrop. Love it. Envy it. But I would probably manage it more, and feel a huuuge imperative to plant native species--at least as the garden's backbone. Then I would showcase the perennials and garden flowers as elements that existed distinct from the native background. But this was definitely the garden where you'd pull up a chair and a glass of lemonade to read a book and watch the butterflies.

Garden #5 was very hip and urban and colorful, and *very* San Francisco, imo. This garden has to win for a variety of obvious reasons. If I had this garden, I would add in huckleberry, salal, spicebush, and lots of quamash.

What these gardens have that mine lacks is *establishment*. In a few years, I'll have big plants and strong focal points. Right now, I think I've got good bones, and some good starts. It's a bit of a waiting game with close observation being paid to what works and doesn't, and why, etc.

My garden is unwelcoming to more than 2 or 3 people at a time. Which is kind of how Guy and I are! We don't entertain, and I would feel weird having a bunch of strangers traipsing through my property. If it was possible to invite just friends and blog commenters over for open garden day, that would be fine, but I would never open my doors to the public. Guy, on the other hand, was very upbeat about us doing exactly that in a number of years.

Annie, you're so right. I do feel enabled! But empowering is so much more...empowering! Enabled makes it sounds like there's something wrong with me! :)

chuck b. said...

Plus, Garden #5 is so socially oriented, with it's landscape in the round, bar, bbq, disco ball... you'd feel lonely if you were in it alone. Where are all the people?

Garden #4 had a big grassy expanse before you got to the perennial beds, so you could socialize on that, or not. It's more versatile. A hardscape area close to the house, with grass behond that, and untamed perennials beyond that would be close to ideal.

Annie in Austin said...

Okay, enabled and Empowered. Thank you for the additional commentary on the tour gardens. It would be hard to resist wanting that open slope in number 4, with the edge of the garden sliding up to the view.

Having the Austin Garden Bloggers come here was great fun. But I can't imagine a public tour - people want something spectacular and unusual for the cost of their ticket - they'd want their money back on the way out of my little suburban-type garden! But you have the bones of the spectacular type, Chuck.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

lisa said...

Yea, I could never have strangers in my garden! I work so closely with people all week at work (sick people at that), by the time I'm home I don't want to see a bunch of strangers looking to be "wowed". Gardeners are different, and they understand nuances like "work in progress". Chuck, I agree that the last garden is coolest, except for that greenhouse. BTW-thank you, and it WAS a happy Mother's Day!