Friday, September 27, 2013

The Organic Mechanics

This garden was the first stop for my group during the San Francisco Garden Bloggers Fling. I felt a little like I was visiting my parallel life, what my gardening endeavors may have looked like had I moved to San Francisco in the early 2000’s (I came close) instead of Portland, Oregon in 2004. Had I moved I most certainly would have lived in the city, and of course wouldn't have been able to afford land. I would have gardened on my windowsill or balcony, or if I was really lucky somewhere like this...

Our bus pulled up in front of an apartment building and we entered...

After walking down long hallways and narrow staircases we emerged into a small light shaft.

And at the end of the hallway...green!

I think we all breathed a small sigh of relief to see there really was a garden!

This lush, quirky, space is the creation of Sean Stout and James Pettigrew, also known as the Organic Mechanics; a garden design, build and maintenance firm. They share this courtyard garden with the many residents of the multi-story buildings which surround it.

This was a very personal garden, with repurposed elements throughout.

And old, faded, advertising...

Being in an urban courtyard setting their plant choices could push all the boundaries.

I kept finding myself looking up in this garden, more than usual. I think it was knowing I was surrounded by tall buildings, but not quite believing it.

I'm not sure Vicki got a chance to look at the garden as her new friend didn't want to leave her side, err shoulder...

That's either Sean or James, sadly I missed his talk about the garden (to busy gawking and yacking with other "flingers").

This point was sort of a pass-through to the sunnier side of things.

I know what this is, I really do. I just can't remember its name right at the moment. Someone will tell me! The trunk...

And the top!

So perfect...

I do feel a connection to those who garden in containers, whether from necessity or love.

The early morning light fell on the Leucadendron argenteum perfectly.

I took more photos of it than I would have thought possible, you only have to see two.

Of course there were more Leucadendron to see...

And love.

It was Alison who asked if I'd been up to the roof to look down on the garden (I think she noticed I kept looking up).

I hadn't! So she told me how to get there and off I went, just a little concerned the group would leave without me. What a view!

Here's a neighbor who yearns for the outdoors but doesn't have a green thumb, or maybe the landlords permission to garden?

I could see the group was still there so I felt okay hanging out for a few more minutes and imagining "what if..."

Eventually it was time to leave and I spotted the Mechanics truck in front of the building. Here's their info, in case you're in need of their services!

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

29 comments:

  1. Wow! Those tree ferns take the cake. That is absolutely stunning. I see what you are saying though about the sigh of relief. That is an amazing little oasis.

    Your tree ... me thinks ceiba speciosa

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    1. You're right of course, thank you Louis! I was just looking at the stubby little tree fern I put in the ground this spring wondering what this winter will do it. I want tall tree ferns!!!

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  2. That was such a cool garden! My first taste of San Francisco gardening. There were so many plants unknown to me, and so many things to love about it. Glad you got a chance to go up to the top of the building.

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    1. It really was the perfect garden to start with, glad we were on "that" bus...

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  3. Sigh, for a moment you took me back. Loved this garden! Thanks for the wonderful warm memory on this soggy PNW day!

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    1. I'm thankful I've been to busy to post on very many of the Fling gardens, all the better to save that sun and heat for our soggy days ahead. Glad to give you a sun boost!

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  4. What a stunning little urban garden. I love unexpected spaces like that they make such good gardens.

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    1. Indeed, and having that to look down upon would make living in the city so much nicer.

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  5. I enjoyed your approach to this garden with the tall buildings and looking up views. It's a great garden with so many interesting details.

    Louis has the name of the tree nailed. It's also called Silk Floss and I saw one at a local nursery yesterday. I took almost the same photos.

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  6. How lovely to revisit this garden with you today! In retrospect, I think it was the perfect garden to begin to our Fling. I'm just sorry I didn't get upstairs for the overview, so thanks for showing me what it was like. And I concur with Louis about the Ceiba speciosa - it's so cool with those trunk thorns!

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    1. I love that shot of you in there Jane, with the Ceiba speciosa, did you spot it? I think Denise is right behind you.

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  7. Fabulous garden. The spiky trunk--did we see that tree at Nancy Buley's Treephoria?

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    1. The tree at Nancy's was Kalopanax septemlobus, or Castor Aralia: http://plantlust.com/plants/kalopanax-septemlobus/

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  8. Oh wow...I wish I'd know we could go up on the roof!

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    1. If you'd have been on the cool kids bus...

      That's one of the things I hate about having to split up and do the garden visits in smaller groups.

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  9. Your pictures are great, Loree - they gave me a better sense of the overall space than I got from earlier coverage. That silver Leucadendron is wonderful. I've been trying to find a place for one - they get big!

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    1. Only if your lucky!!! I'd so love to have one get big in my garden. My poor little guy is destined for life in a container.

      Glad you enjoyed the garden visit.

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  10. Lots of great pics, but I especially like the view down the dark hallway opening into the garden: kinda reminds me of 'The Secret Garden'. Also the faded advertising gives such a sense of place.

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    1. I looked at an apartment in Seattle years ago that had a interior brick wall with faded advertising on it, from when it was an exterior wall. The rest of the apartment sucked but I LOVED that feature.

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  11. wow little hidden jugle including parrot...love you shots as always

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  12. Ceiba speciosa makes an intereting house plant where it isn't hardy outdoors through winter, and the fall blooms look like exotic pink orchids. Unfortunately we aren't quite hot enough here in San Francisco to get them to bloom regularly, but grafted trees from Monrovia Nursery are more reliable bloomers. There's some in bloom now at Pyramid Ale here in Berkeley. Also, the grafted trees typically don't have those thorny trunks. Easy tree from seed as a cool house plant, and gorgeous enough even without blooms to use in gardens, but they can get 80 feet tall by 40 feet across. There's a great old specimen that survived the December 1990 bad freeze at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, but best blooming trees are all down in southern California.

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    1. The thorny trunk is the best part...

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  13. OMG, how absolutely fabulous! I MUST get to the fling next year. Sorry I've been absent recently but work has reared it's ugly head and I'll be buried in my painting studio for another few weeks. In between frantically painting for deadlines I'll be getting my tropicals under cover for the season. I'm trying to keep up with everything but not having much success. LOL

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    1. Yes Deanne, you must! It would be fabulous to finally meet you. Good luck with the seasonal preparation and deadlines!

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  14. So Cal kids call those trees "cat killers", at least we did. When the flowers fall on concrete, they stain the concrete pink.

    A nice look back. The Fling was whole a lot of fun.

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    1. Indeed, a whole lot of fun! I'm glad you can say that even with a day out for illness.

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  15. It's nice to see a SF garden popping up again in my feed. Great captures of this surprising garden.

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