On my trip to San Francisco in July to attend a dear friend’s wedding, I had a few time windows for just wandering around on my own. Since I lived in the city for 8 years in the 90s, there is a lot of nostalgia involved whenever I visit, but also these days an intense curiosity about what people are doing in terms of visible gardening.
Since most of the houses in the city proper are literally shoved up against each other, side gardens are practically nonexistent and back ones are invisible from the street. Parking strips generally do not exist (although you can get a permit from the city’s Department of Public Works to cut out gardening space on the street if you want to) and unless there is a small hole cut in the concrete for a tree or shrub to grow from, there is not much chance to dig in the dirt. Many residents have taken to container gardening on the street, and there was such an explosion of plantings that it literally took my breath away at times. I hope to feature a number of these in a series of posts as time allows.
One exception to the “no patch of visible dirt to garden in” rule was this corner apartment-house garden just down the street from where I was staying with a friend, on the hill between the Castro district and Noe Valley. It featured many plants which cannot grow where I live in Seattle, so please forgive the lack of botanical or even common names. If you know them, feel free to comment and help me out with IDs!
Walking down the hill from my friend’s place, I stopped in my tracks when I saw the height of these poppies. I wonder if they could be Matijila poppies? They were easily 6 ft. tall and their pure white petals contrasted so beautifully with the fried egg centers.
This was one of the largest cactus specimens I had ever seen outdoors in the city. It looks like it had just finished flowering.
There were a few of these spotted, spiky succulents, which I believe are aloes. I have read that they are supposed to be green but can turn purplish in poor soil or low water conditions.
One had a flower stalk covered with these coral-pink, alien-looking blooms:
One of you agave fanciers can probably tell what species this one is:
And this one… it was a regular Danger Garden!
The shaggy silver bark of the tree which towered over the entire garden begged to be touched.
I wonder which came first, the apartment house or the tree?
I also wonder if the people who live there appreciate the garden, or do they just walk past it every day without looking? If I had a Bird of Paradise out my front door, I think I’d have to visit it at least every few hours.
This succulent looked kind of like a jade plant but with the wrong colors. Gorgeous.
This is just the tip of the iceberg – I think I took over 600 photos in just a few days. I won’t put them all up here by any means, but hope to celebrate at least some of the great efforts people have been putting in for all to enjoy.
When you visit a town that has a lot to look at in terms of plant life, do you forgo other types of sight-seeing just so you can ogle gardens?