Edgy Style, Soft Message: Urban Habitat Garden at the SF Flower and Garden Show

I've been wondering over the past few weeks how to encourage the younger hipper set to get into native plants. Since seeing so many younger folk enjoying the Santa Cruz Fungus Fair, in fact.

So I was very happy indeed to see this garden at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show.

The "Urban Habitat" garden - a pocket park, with natives
This garden was designed by students of the Academy of Art University of San Francisco. It combines art and California native plants in a "pocket park" themed display. Above, Ms Town Mouse is taking a photo of the lovely young blue blossom trees, Ceanothus thyrsiflorus, growing above a mixture of native perennials. (See the Town Mouse garden show post here!)

The smooth grey pebbles underfoot, like those zones where runaway trucks can grind to a stop, say, "Slow down. Relax. You have plenty of time."

All along the park bench is what you might call young urban Zen calligraphy.

It's a quote from John Muir - helpfully typed up nearby:

Ah! I think John Muir is the next writer I'll pick up. To see the world in a grain of sand - or in a dew drop! To see the stars all singing and shining together -  in one small urban pocket park! A storm of beauty! What a great conception! I'm inspired! Let me add a few more exclamation points - !!!!. Way to go, students of Academy of Art!

I enjoyed the art a lot. I could imagine sitting in this pocket park. It's lively...

And also restful..

I particularly loved the idea of the pocket park as a space for people to participate actively - to do some gardening, paint on the walls and bench, and so on. From the blurb:
“Urban Habitat” is a dual-use parklet that is designed to provide a public place for citizens to relax and enjoy the atmosphere of the city around them, while allowing for participation in activities such as gardening. This parklet embraces the recycle and reuse of urban elements such as “dumpsters” to provide planting areas, seating, while also acting as “urban art” canvases for graffiti artists.

I could end in cynicism, saying that of course in reality, kids would throw those nice chunky pebbles through windows, the graffiti would become nasty, and the garden trashed. But I'd rather support the students' idea that you can in fact plant a seed of community that would actually grow and flourish as a place for people to come together -- all singing and shining as one.


Terra said…
Your heart, and the student designers' hearts, are in the right place. I enjoyed seeing this.
Timeless said…
What I really miss about living over there in California and gardening is that you actually have almost any time of the year doing it.

Here in Sweden at best you get 5 months. Late April early May and then by around the first of September leaves turn colour and it's getting colder. You really need a green house if you truly want a vegatable garden. I thought I lucked out with tomatoes one year. The plants grew to six feet and loaded with tomatoes, but time was running out and it started getting cooler before the majority could ripen. The ones that did were pithy inside.

Very tough to get young people interested in any type of gardening here. You have to compete with all the electronics and gadgits.

Those paintings remind me of one of the last Sunset Gardening magazines I ever read before I left. They had the realisitc nature murals painted on garden walls with plants in the fore ground.

Very kool.
It would be lovely to see blighted urban lots turned into parklets like these, even if it's just temporary while a lot isn't being used for anything else. It think it's not too difficult to attract the younger set, especially when it looks like this, and that native plants are also an 'environmentally friendly' and 'sustainable' garden choice, that makes them 'trendy' in a sense. However, I share some of your cynicism, and expect that unless protected somehow, they may be vandalized by those with nothing better to do. It's fun to imagine the ideal though.
Country Mouse said…
I just read that To The Best of Our Knowledge radio show - an excellent program on National Public Radio - is going to feature the author of "Farm City" in a spot on urban gardens: "Novella Carpenter tells Jim Fleming about building an urban garden in a vacant lot in "the murder capital of the world."" - see http://ttbook.org/book/season-seed for link to download or to listen.

Thanks for coming by and commenting!