This stop is open to showcase their backyard only - well worth the stop to see what you would never suspect was there from the street!
This garden was redesigned completely following a remodel in 1994, when they turned the corner of their triangular lot into a triangular garage - the only way to save the beautiful old avocado tree that anchors the yard. It has been a work in progress since then. Thomas Bloch, the owner, has been the designer as well as the builder in all cases.
Their goal for the garden was to make it a refuge/oasis, while working within the restrictions of the existing hardscape: the brick patio, the brick oven that backs up to the fireplace inside, and the somewhat unusual shape of the lot. Existing trees included the avocado, a row of large ficus along the fence that borders the alley behind them, and an old camellia the size of a tree. And even though the garden is not large, they wanted distinct areas, each with its own feeling and unique vistas. They also wanted a largely drought-tolerant garden, someplace to grow vegetables, and a garden shed to store tools and garden supplies.
The "rooms" in the garden include their gazebo, the raised wooden deck, and the patio. Near the deck they installed a small fountain in the shape of a cube. The garden shed, designed around 4x8 plywood, was custom built. A brick path winds past the avocado tree to join the patio and the garage. The table - a focus for many summer dinners and brunches - is in the gazebo, with other seating options placed strategically on deck and patio. In addition to the garden itself, Thomas designed and built the two redwood benches (as well as the deck and the garden shed).
They love the way different shades of green play off one another and other colors. They chose New Zealand flax and blue fescues to shape the garden, with a accent plants including euonymous, palm, heavenly bamboo, bay, rosemary, rose, and other herbs. Two barrel cactuses round things out. On the patio, large white planters hold colorful kalanchoes. And the raised beds currently have a newly-planted pomegranate tree, as well as a host of seasonal vegetables and flowers: fava beans, beets, lettuces, pansies, garlic, and more. Every spring they host mockingbirds, who nest on the property, and throughout the year various birds and butterflies visit.
Their garden has indeed become the refuge they planned and hoped for. Spending time in it is a way to recharge, to relax, and to reconnect with nature.