Gardening where the sidewalk ends

San Francisco Street Plantings November 30, 2008

Part of our recent vacation to the Bay Area of California was spent in our old stomping grounds of San Francisco. We lived there from 1992-2000 in a never-quite-gentrified part of the city that was equal parts noisy, diverse, crazy and wonderful. We are lucky to have family members who live just a few blocks from our old apartment, so when we come to visit, it feels like coming home. Surprisingly little has changed in the past eight years, and the grocery store folks even remember us!

We were only there for about 48 hours this trip, much of it spent shopping for Thanksgiving fixings and then making the various dishes we were bringing to the feast (two kinds of stuffing, a sweet potato puree with pecan/brown sugar crust, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin ravioli in sage butter sauce for the vegetarians), but I tried to take a few photos of street gardens in the neighborhood. There aren’t really parking strips, at least not in that part of SF, so trees and any other greenery are forced to live in small containers or other gaps in the concrete. This row of trees in small, square planter boxes was installed by the builders of a spiffy condo complex a few years ago:

San Francisco street trees

I’m sorry not to know the tree variety. Any guesses? They have been nicely underplanted with succulents:

Box o' succulents

Further down the same short block is a thriving bottle brush (Callistemon), in full bloom here in the last days of November:

Bottle brush tree

That tree really says California to me (even though technically it’s from Australia), as does this one, Angel’s trumpets or brugmansia, located directly across the street:

Trumpet flower tree

There were Bougainvillea vines in full bloom everywhere in the city right now – I didn’t get a good shot of any but a purple one is visible peeking out from under the spectacular tree in this next shot (I should know what the tree is but have forgotten – again, any guesses?):

SF streetscape

I love that their pumpkins are still out and spiffy – ours all had to be dumped due to gigantic black rotten spots and/or squirrel destruction. The only wildlife we saw on the street was pigeons, and I guess they are not interested in eating squash.

Ah, SF… we love and miss you, but it was good to come home to Seattle too.


9 Responses to “San Francisco Street Plantings”

  1. Racquel Says:

    Leave it to you to find some interesting plantings while on holiday in the city! I’ve never been to San Francisco so thanks for the glimpse of a beautiful city. It doesn’t look like November there, the blooms are still beautiful.

  2. Megan Says:

    So nice of you to make a special dish for the vegetarians. I host Thanksgiving at my place, and I don’t even make anything special, I just eat the side dishes. Did I just not know where to look in San Francisco, or was it really difficult to find vegetarian fare down there? I saw some really beautiful street gardens there, not necessarily in parking strips, but tiny little gated spaces outside the front of houses. Unfortunately, I’m so afraid I’ll look like a tourist, I didn’t take any good pictures. I must go back another time, and get up the courage. I love the stuff they can grow there, that we can’t get away with up here.

  3. What lovely plantings! I’ve never seen underplanting of succulents before, very creative.

    I’m from the PNW too and am very much enjoying your blog.

  4. Georgia Says:

    The trees in the planter boxes are pears (Callery), I think. I am less enamored of the planter boxes. Soil piled around trunks can contribute to rot and other tree ills.

  5. Oh, you’re making me homesick! We lived in Berkeley for years… That’s where I fell in love with coffee. (I was already in love with my husband.) Haven’t been back now for a long time. Glad you had a good trip, though.

  6. Kanak Says:

    Beautiful photos , Karen. Loved the flowering trees, especially the bottle-brush. Sounds like a wonderful holiday you had. Going through your pics tempts me to do some ‘greenwalking’ of my own!

  7. Jen Says:

    I remember some of these trees from when I lived in Florida- I’m not real good at identifying tropical stuff unfortunately. The streets there look so clean – not a bit of litter (unlike NYC)

  8. Ronnie Says:

    Hi Karen!
    I really appreciate your comment on my blog. I love living in SF too! I checked out your blog and it’s really very informative; great entry on organic critter control!

    I’ll add you to my favorite blogs list so people can link to you.

    🙂 Ronnie

  9. Aerie-el Says:

    So that’s what my brugmansia is supposed to look like! LOL! ~Aerie-el

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