Seasoned garden writers Susan Lowry and Nancy Berner, along with leading landscape photographer Marion Brenner, tour more than thirty-five private gardens in the San Francisco Bay Area, illuminating the unrivalled beauty of Northern California—the breadth of the sky, the quality of the light, the sparkle of the Bay, the shapes of the hills—that has beckoned landscape designers and gardeners for generations.
Organized geographically—starting with the San Francisco Peninsula, moving north into San Francisco itself, crossing the Bay into Berkeley and Oakland, and finishing in Napa, Sonoma, and Marin—Private Gardens of the Bay Area encompasses an extraordinary range of micro-climates that foster the cultivation of an equally extraordinary range of plants. The kaleidoscope of vigorous plants from five continents bursting out of an Oakland front yard is one kind of garden, the clean-lined contemporary composition of drought-tolerant natives and gravel is another, and the garden tucked into the mountain landscape of oaks, manzanitas, and ceanothus is yet another.
This fascinating tour includes gardens such as Green Gables, where the 1911 terraced design by Greene & Greene is meticulously preserved; Big Swing, with a world-renowned collection of salvias; a vertical garden on a vertiginous site in San Francisco by Surfacedesign; and a romantic landscape of lawns, perennial beds, and stately oaks owned by noted collectors and gallerists Gretchen and John Berggruen. Lowry and Berner describe the goals of each garden owner and the principles behind the designs.