A New Twist On The Secret Garden

The second garden we visited as part of the Garden Bloggers’ Fling was something of a secret garden. Like the garden in the novel by Frances Burnett, this garden is hidden away. Not on an English estate, but rather in an apartment building courtyard in a slightly dicey part of San Francisco. To get there, you have to traipse through corridors and down stairs.

Organic Mechanics

Unlike the fictional garden, this secret garden is joyously quirky and beautifully maintained. It is the garden of James Pettigrew and Sean Stout, proprietors of the garden design firm Organic Mechanics.

This garden is defined in part by the eclectic assortment of found objects displayed throughout.

Organic Mechanics

Organic Mechanics
Time seems to stand still in the secret garden … or is that clock broken?

Vertical space is used to soften the feel of the surrounding apartment walls.

Organic Mechanics

Organic Mechanics

There are water features, of course.

Organic Mechanics

Lots of green in this mostly shady garden, but splashes of color, too.

Organic Mechanics

A gathering place for people, and a retreat for the individual.

Organic Mechanics

A metal gate and wire fence divides the garden into rooms.

Organic Mechanics

There are tranquil scenes that balance the quirkiness.

Organic Mechanics

Organic Mechanics

OK, enough tranquility. Bring on the quirky stuff.

Organic Mechanics

 

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Even a hole in the pavement is an opportunity to exercise some creativity.

Organic Mechanics

Mexican Marigold (Tagetes lucida). I didn’t know there were Marigolds the size of shrubs. The leaves of this plant, which is also called Mexican Tarragon and is used as an herb, have a lemon fragrance.

Organic Mechanics

James Pettigrew and Sean Stout, with feathered friend.

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Do you have a favorite enclosed or secret garden?

40 Comments on “A New Twist On The Secret Garden

  1. I do :), it’s actually not too far and full of interest on every corner, can be visited too: Jardin La Mothe, it’s a “jardin remarquable” near Villefranche, Aveyron/France. Never tire of it…

    • Just looked it up, sounds wonderful! We will be in France in September but will not be able to get there, dammit. Someone needs to pay me to travel and visit gardens full time!

  2. Jason, you’ve shown us one more garden, full of ideas, decorations, structures, furniture, etc. Thank you!
    Sorry, I have no secret garden but… if I make the high fence around mine, may be..

    • I think it was carried in over a period of years. Most of the items came from demolished buildings. I have to wonder about that platform for the votive candles …

  3. I love secret gardens…either enclosed or in a forgotten corner of a garden. There is something very magical about such spaces. It is great to see examples of creativity and ingenuity in such spaces.

  4. Secret gardens are such surprise sanctuaries from the outside world. So happy to get a peek into THIS one!

  5. I love that fireplace mantel–not everyone can pull off so much quirk but I love this one.

    • Yes, the density of quirk per cubic foot was extremely high, but I really did enjoy it. The quirkiness was fun in part because there was no pretentiousness.

  6. I love that passersby would have no idea that this garden exists. That part of the city is so densely populated and covered with concrete. What a wonderful surprise to see such a creative secret garden. The organizers of the event sure did a great job of showing us a wide variety of gardens. Did you find seeing so many cool plants that aren’t hardy in your area frustrating or was it interesting, kind of like visiting a conservatory? It was sure a pleasure meeting you both!

    • Great meeting you! I loved this very urban secret garden. I told Jason he had to use the photo of the hole in the crumbling pavement which had been turned to art.

      It was a little daunting seeing so many plants we can’t use here. But I am now thinking of buying one for my friend’s garden in Berkeley – those succulents that look like roses.

    • Mostly all the new plants were just interesting, though I would really love to grow that jasmine and some of the roses that are not hardy here. Great meeting you – looking forward to Portland!

  7. That hole in the pavement is genius!!! Seriously! And the use of metal in their art pieces really fit this space…that gate is spectacular too! So very lovely!

  8. That building does not look run down at all. What a majestic garden. Pettigrew! I thought such surnames from Harry Potter character were either fictional or could be found only in the UK. What’s that doing here in the US!!??

  9. I’m really enjoying attending the Garden Blogger Fling virtually through your website. Thanks for reporting back on it. I actually do have a secret garden although I never thought of it as such before. It is tucked away on the side of my house and you have to go through this rose covered archway to get to it. It is my favorite part of the backyard. I love all the quirky accents in this particular yard. Is that tree with the red bark an arbutus/madrone tree??

  10. This is one of my favourite gardens from the trip. I loved all the use of reclaimed stuff and the shadiness.

  11. Hi Jason, I love the first picture of the tantalising glimpse of the garden through the doorway. It’s a very atmospheric shot.

  12. I like the quirky stuff, and when I imagine Bay area gardens, that is one of the adjectives that pops into my head. I have read ahead and enjoyed all of your Fling posts, they make me wish I could have worked it out to attend.

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