I woke up the other day not knowing where I was. Urban sounds; traffic, rain falling on pavement, people talking on the sidewalk below. What the hell?
After a few seconds of sleep-induced confusion I remembered - San Francisco. Sirenita Lake's place. Landscape.
A couple years back Sirenita had mentioned she wanted to re-do her yard and I answered "What a coincidence, I do landscaping!" but, as often happens with such conversations, we never followed through. We were chatting recently, though, and I asked if she still wanted to do the yard makeover and it turns out she did and since there's no work in KC right now and I figured it'd be awesome to meet Sirenita and Mark and I've always wanted to see what California north of LA looks like, one thing led to another and I woke up the other day wondering where the hell I was.
The yard in question, viewed from above in a photo Sirenita sent so I could get an idea of what we need to do. It's about 25' x 25' with two planting beds in the center surrounded by a paved pathway and then another bed less than 24" wide running along the outer wall. It's challenging for me because I'm used to working with big Midwestern yards where there's a lot of space - foundation beds, perennial borders, back yard, beds along the sides of the house, and etc. Houses in San Francisco, though, tend to be on tiny lots and this one is no exception, so the task here isn't to create sweeping vistas (which is what I'm used to) but rather to fully utilize the limited space available without making things look too busy or crowded.
Another shot Sirenita took before I came out. You can see the planting beds are green and lush, but they're also kind of cluttered and tangled and the plants are grown into each other to the point where it's difficult to weed or to tell where one ends and another begins. Calla lilies and irises and alstroemeria and amaryllis and violets and verbena and other useful things are mixed in with assorted weeds and snails and so forth and the whole area needs to be sorted out and set right.
The first step in beating back the entropy was to determine what existing plants we want to keep to incorporate into the new landscape. Here are some irises in our "salvage area."
One bed stripped down to the bare dirt; behind the cherry tree are some new plants we're going to put... somewhere. We have columbines and coral bells and cyclamen and cinneraria and maidenhair fern and wallflower and 0thers too, though none of the nurseries we've been to have hostas yet, which is throwing a major monkey wrench in the plan. I want a ring of hostas around the two cherry trees, but for now we have to proceed without them, and possibly also without the echinacea and rudbeckia and other sun-loving perennials we need for the less shady areas in the outer bed. Hostas or not, at this point we're starting to get an idea of what we want the beds to look like, but we're also kinda making it up as we go along.
The nurseries around here are different from what I'm used to, and though I wish they had more perennials they're nonetheless fascinating. Here is a "wall-o-succulents" at one of the local garden centers. It's about 4' by 6' and is one of the coolest succulent plantings I've ever witnessed.
A succulent close-up.
Nurseries in San Francisco serve macchiato with an artful little plant drawn in milk.
Back to the yard; a charming garden hippo lives here.
Another garden resident - what a cute newt!
Mark and Sirenita are kind folk and sometimes they let me out of the yard to recreate. Here are some California poppies I saw while walking in the park.
Yesterday while hiking a ridgetop trail in Oakland we saw a day-time moon framed by redwood trees. It's incredibly beautiful out here, and I'll hopefully post more about it at some point, but right now I need to get back in the yard and finish de-entropizing the wall-side planting areas. Once that's done we can move on to the fun part, laying out and planting the beds and refurbishing the container garden and maybe designing a compact water feature and so on and so forth...