Thursday, July 18, 2013

Designing a garden to discourage night-time visitors…

As part of our visit to Flora Grubb we were invited to take a tour of a garden just down the street designed by staff at the nursery. Those expecting a lush, private, paradise like the gardens we visited earlier in the day may have been disappointed.

I however loved seeing many of the same plants I was drooling over in the nursery planted up in a fairly harsh and unforgiving piece of ground.

The landscaped area surrounds a wastewater treatment plant, and if you’re wondering about the title of the post much of the tour included talk of plant choices based on discouraging non-traditional (or maybe it’s extremely traditional?) employment "activities" that go on here under the cover of darkness. That concrete signage above? Well it provided just the place for “lying down” hidden from the street. That was until several pointy Mahonia were added to the mix. There are soft and sharp spikes throughout the garden all of which convey a “look but don’t touch” sort of atmosphere. Naturally I couldn’t refuse framing a shot with just these two words.

They are all pretty tough characters when it comes to water usage too.

And beautiful! (and yes, I would even say lush)

See those blue/green dots?

Agaves!

The ones with the yellow margins are Agave desmetiana 'Variegata' and they melt at temperatures much below 25F...oh those lucky Californians!

I can't remember why the height of the mounded gravel. Maybe moisture retention? Maybe to make walking into the plantings difficult?

A. attenuata in front of the palm, an agave that requires a basically frost-free climate to survive.

Love the color combinations!

The building has a fortress-like design don't you think?

Oh those non-hardy (for me) Grevillea...why must you be so beautiful?

Same for you Mr. Leucadendron...

Grevillea or Banksia? I felt I knew for sure when I was there but now I'm not so sure.

Ah look at that!...

Love this Grevillea bloom!

The feathery foliage is amazing too.

Here's a shot out towards the neighborhood.

And finally there were a few Fremontodendron in bloom at the far end of the building...

I imagine they were chosen because the hairs of the leaves and young shoots can cause skin irritation.

After this tour and another half-hour or so at Flora Grubb it was time to get back on the buses and return to the hotel, and the end of a wonderful 3-day Garden Bloggers Fling. Luckily I've still got a ton of garden visits to post about so I'll (and you'll) be relishing the adventure for weeks to come.

All material © 2009-2013 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

32 comments:

  1. I was hoping this was going to be a post about deterring raccoons. Beautiful mix of plants though. :) That's the deepest gravel mulch I've ever seen. You don't make gravel mounds where you have weather, as they don't last.

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    1. Funny I didn't even think about raccoons, in other words I wasn't trying to be clever!

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  2. I thought this was going to be about raccoons too! This all looks really lush to me--love it!

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  3. What an interesting place to visit. Soon guard dogs across the nation will be replaced by control plants!

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    1. If only! (you went on the tour yes?)

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  4. Wow - so many things to drool over. Lots of lovely plants there and I like that even though the plantings are kind of spaced out in some of the shots, it still looks appropriate and full.

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    1. Since I'm such a "cram it full" gardener at first the plants looked a little too spaced out to me as well. But as I spent more time looking at them it seemed natural, if that makes sense?

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  5. I wish I had asked the designer about those deeply depressed planting basins, and my first thought was how they might harvest dew / fog drip. Kind of tame by my "keep them out" standards, but then again, I'm a bit spoiled with choices in that department! Nice post.

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    1. Yes you are spoiled in that way! Rare is the desert plant that says "hug me."

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  6. Beauty as a deterrant...what a concept! I think the outlaw is on to something: lay off the guard dogs and hire gardeners.

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  7. No O. humifusa? Whatever works and much prettier plants than we commonly see for the same purpose here.



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    1. Ah you're right...not a single opuntia in the mix!

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  8. Wow, I like a lot this garden. Thanks for showing.

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  9. Inviting and deterring at the same time...

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    1. Seems like a contradiction doesn't it?

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  10. AnonymousJuly 19, 2013

    Just beautiful. I think this is a great way to promote low water use plants that can look beautiful. Love your posts you always find cool places off the beaten path.

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    1. Can't take the credit for finding this one, I just had the smarts to say "yes" when the tour was offered!

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  11. AnonymousJuly 19, 2013

    That is a Banksia, B. blechnifolia which is a spreading ground cover type of habit. This part of San Francisco does not get fog drip as it is low elevation right next to the bay, so those deep basins would not collect fog drip.
    David in Berkeley

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    1. Yes! Thank you for the i.d. David. What do you think the purpose of the deep basins is then?

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  12. AnonymousJuly 19, 2013

    Forgot to mention that those Brahea 'Clara' palms as a mass planting are the highlight of this landscape for me, my favorite Brahea.
    David in Berkeley

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    1. They are pretty sweet, I agree.

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  13. My camera batter totally died right before this side-trip, so I didn't get any photos...but I seem to remember the designer addressing the oddly-deep gravel. He said the crew that applied it put it on WAY too thick and they had to pull it away from the bases of the plants, if I remember correctly.

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    1. Bummer but at least it lasted that long right? Your memory of the gravel sounds plausible...but wow what a waste of gravel!

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  14. AnonymousJuly 19, 2013

    I'd also guess that it was a mistake on the part of the insufficiently supervised installation crew, and there wasn't any budget left over to remove the excess.
    David in Berkeley

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  15. Very glad to see this! I guess I missed it by hustling out early to get to the airport on time. Great plantscape, except for the basins. Perhaps as the plants get older, it won't be so noticeable.

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    1. And of course some of the gravel will settle into the soil and maybe be redistributed with water run-off. Sorry you missed it but catching a plane does take priority...

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  16. Wow, that's the second, beautifully landscaped waste-water treatment plant I've seen. The other one was in Denmark, and totally different. Makes me wonder how the one in PDX looks... perhaps we have a lot to learn... Follow-up idea?

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  17. I really admire this garden, especially considering what normally gets planted around municipal utilities, which is usually nothing. I am just wondering why they had trouble with illicit activity. Is there no place better in the area than the wastewater treatment facility?

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