3 Delightful Bay Area Gardens

If you have a bit of extra time over the holidays or on a weekend, here are 3 of the most delightful Bay Area Gardens that I’ve discovered this past year. They range in age from older than a century to practically new and in purpose from garden design and plant sales to a museum quality collection of species.

Flora Grub Gardens (started in 2004) in San Francisco is my most recent find. As a testament to the power of social media, I discovered this one through the Instagram feed of a work colleague (Thank you @kmctighe24!). A delightful sense of whimsy permeates the garden. If you happen to have a wreck on your lot, you can turn it into a planter!

Flora Grubb Edsel by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

Flora Grubb Edsel by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

Not only is this sense of whimsy on the ground, it is also in the air. The flying bicycles below have air plants or tillandsias tacked to the fenders and handlebars.

Flying Bicycle and Tillandsias by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

Flying Bicycle and Tillandsias by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

There are also areas of calming order like this patio set outside the coffee shop:

Flora Grubb Patio by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

Flora Grubb Patio by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

And things you might put in your garden all attractively displayed as if they belonged there.

Flora Grubb Doors by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

Flora Grubb Doors by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

This table looks like fun:

Flora Grubb Planter Table by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

Flora Grubb Planter Table by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

Flora Grubb carries a great range of succulents in many sizes and other types of plants as well.

Flora Grubb Succelents by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

Flora Grubb Succelents by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

More than the other gardens, Flora Grubb Gardens helps you see, “This is what a garden can look like in your home.” Check out her website for exquisite photographs of the site.

In contrast, Ruth Bancroft Gardens (started in 1972), focuses solely on a deep catalogue of succulents planted in a permanent garden punctuated by sculptures. Docents lead tours and if you have questions, volunteers are on hand to answer. There are volunteer plant sales so if you fall in love you can take one home if it’s available. I was so impressed with this garden when I visited that I wrote 3 entries:

Lastly, I had heard about the Arizona Cactus Garden (started in the early 1880s) at Stanford for ages before actually finding it earlier this year and writing about it. It too has a museum quality collection of succulents, many of which are very old and all are permanently planted. This place is definitely DIY. There is no help in engaging with the garden. There’s no gift store, there are no docents, there are no plant sales, there’s no call to action and nothing you can do with the passion the garden may invoke in you. Talk about a Marketing opportunity!

Whether you want help designing a garden or just want to wander in someone else’s, these 3 gardens will give you joy.

5 thoughts on “3 Delightful Bay Area Gardens

  1. susurrus

    I enjoyed your colourful pictures from this beautiful part of the world very much – thanks for giving us a glimpse! It’s a wild generalisation, but the average US gardener is more confident to accessorise his or her garden – they see more examples around them. English gardeners tend to be more confident with plants. Here you’ve found gardeners who blend the two and the result is very inspirational!

    1. Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson Post author

      Thank you for such a thoughtful insight into the difference between gardens and gardeners. When the sculpture in the garden isn’t a monument, courage in one’s own personal taste has a big role to play and perhaps a deep sense of delight in the thing itself. Hmmm, you’ve given me something to think about for my own garden, which is currently object-less. 🙂

  2. susurrus

    You certainly have an eye for it if your photography’s anything to go by! The things I sometimes see in America and crave the most are the gorgeous outdoor showers in gardens with natural curtains made from vines and plants. I can’t imagine there are many of those in the UK!

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