Moving to San Francisco some 10 years ago changed my life. More to the point, it opened-up my life. I blossomed here.
My dad was a gardener by vocation, and avocation. Green was in my genes but I’d never tried gardening as a kid. . . I just didn’t know it yet. I loved to draw, though. . .
Moving to San Francisco, I discovered truly great food. Great ingredients. Now, I wanted to find out more about the source of my food. I wanted to make it myself. I became selective about the food I chose. I started going to farmers markets.
I also moved into an apartment with unused space in the lot behind. I took it over, with the blessing of the neighbors. I had the idea I’d start an ornamental garden. I taught myself to garden by digging in the dirt every day. I grew to understand the plants by watching them, season to season, year by year.
Understanding plants and developing an appreciation for food have become essential parts of my life. It’s only natural that I would want to explore the area in which they overlap and, that’s farming. Enter my dear friend T-.
We’re on a similar trajectory, T- and I. Having never had much experience either, he’s developed his passion for farming only within the past few years, and how quickly and easily he’s succumbed to it. A fellow San Francisco resident, he’s found a way to rent a plot in distant Petaluma, which he tends as often as he can get away, getting his plant-starts established in his kitchen growing station. He’s graciously invited me to help him in his grand endeavor, and now I have a new home away from home.
Stay tuned for more posts from the farm. This is the start of something. . .
Here’s a video I find inspiring. It neatly sums up the lure of the farm, and suggests why it is that so many people nowadays are going back to their roots, by learning how to grow their own food.
25 January 2011
My latest garden project involves removing several of last years wine bottle rows and digging deep into the hillside to flatten out the garden floor. The wine bottles will be replaced in a new configuration, to make more of a ‘feature’ of them. Additionally, I’ve carried lots of found, discarded granite countertop pieces to the back of the garden where they’ve become little retaining walls for new flower beds. The dirt I’m digging up at the front is going back there to fill up those beds. I’m hoping the result will be a more dramatic contrast in height in the garden, and that the materials will be highlighted in a more impactful way.
We’re in love with rocks here at MUS•e•YUM so when the guys offered to take me to Broadmoor we were positively over the moon. If hardscape turns you on like it does for us, get yourself to the South San Francisco mecca. Bins of gorgeous rock stretch as far as the eye can see! On this visit I came away with feather stone (lava), two quartz rocks and a gorgeous bowl shaped specimen, surely destined for the succulent garden out back.
In other news, we stopped at Peets along the way and saw this fabulous cat. The cat of course looked rather cross- can you imagine??
Broadmoor Landscape Supply
1350 El Camino Real
South San Francisco, CA 94080
Hours: Mon-Fri 7 am – 5 pm
Great art inspires. . .
Last year my great friend Deena took me to a favorite spot of hers, a grove in the Presidio National Park where the forest opens to a beautiful panorama of San Francisco, right in front of you. It’s a spiritual spot, and a meditative one. It was easy to see why she brought me here. When it was decided that a monument to should be installed here, only one artist could do a place like this justice, celebrating but not changing it: Andy Goldsworthy.
So, in 2008, he built SPIRE. The amazing thing about this monumental sculpture, made of timber lashed together 90 feet high, is how effortlessly it has become part of the scene. It blends right in. This is a hallmark of Goldsworthy’s work, he incorporates natural materials from the site in which he’s working and from them he creates beautiful, fanciful and ephemeral art. Here, he took trees that would be felled (for the safety of the environment) and then used only that timber to make the sculpture. Part of the art is not only the finished state, but also the manner in which it is, in turn, reclaimed again by Nature. And will the sculpture last a minute? Two? Months? Years? That part is left to Nature, too.
Goldsworthy strives, “to make connections between what we call nature and what we call man-made.”
There is another Goldsworthy I want to tell you about, much more subtle than Spire. It’s the crack in the foundation of the de Young museum, Faultline, 2005. For this commission he created a zigzag crack in the hardscape outside the museum. The crack is a ‘path’ from the roadside to the entrance of the museum, but also serves as a subtle reminder of the seismic activity latent in the ground underneath, a characteristic of this place in the world. Unless your eyes are directed to it you might not see it but when it’s pointed out, the impact hits you immediately. Check out this great article about that piece, here.
I’ve since become a fan of his. I was so inspired after having seen Spire I created a mini-version in my backyard garden. For mine I reclaimed dead bamboo shoots from my friend’s garden, and the Hancock Spire was born!
Not willing to stop here, I wanted to try another one. I had my opportunity when my neighbor knocked down their retaining wall and threw away the cobblestones. Thus, I gained ‘site-native’ materials for another project, and I built a zigzag ‘Faultline’ of my own by setting the stones directly into the ground, and emanating from my Spire!
My exploration of the public art in Hayes Valley, Ecstasy in Patricia’s Green, (link to post here) reminds me of the monumental and inspiring Spire. While the scale of both projects certainly inspires awe, simply by virtue of their height which forces the eye skyward, they also are partnered in my mind because of the artistic process behind them. While they differ in the sourcing of the materials, Ecstasy made from man-made objects while Spire is made from felled trees, both make from found materials sing. These monuments speak to how repurposing an everday object, even a discarded one, can imbue the art with an added significance and intrinsic beauty.
ah, oscularia deltoides, a prolific groundcover that grows fast in the garden- It produces simple but pretty lavender blooms in the springtime.
With nearly 10 hours of gardening in the back yard, my muscles are tired but happy from moving rocks, pots and plants much of the weekend. My reward was seeing the view Sunday, late afternoon; while I was down in the garden with friends Dick and Matte Gray, shafts of light illuminated the newly-planted plants, turning them a shimmering gold. It was so beautiful!
The weekend included visits from not only Matte Gray, whom I want to thank for the beautiful aloe, but also visits from the Bamboo Whisperer, Bob & Andy. I had TONS of help from, and quality time with, my superstar upstairs neighbor, Dick. Thanks Dick! and thanks to all for coming to check out the garden, and for the wonderful contributions! The garden reflects the love everyone has brought to it!
The weekend also included a great meals at B&A’s house on Saturday and on Sunday, at Heart Restaurant for their “Spaghetti Sundays” – house-made pasta & meatballs, a wonderfully fresh salad & garlic bread, all incredibly well prepared– this restaurant certainly deserves all the praise it gets from the foodie community.
This was a mighty fine weekend, indeed!