7/9/09

Marienbad in San Francisco

That's the name of the 15th stairway walk, done by me today, in Adah Bakalinsky's book Stairway Walks in San Francisco.

Have you seen Last Year at Marienbad, the surrealist black and white film by French director Alain Resnais from 1961? It's the sort of film you see once, usually in college. The film has no real story to speak of, but is full of elegant images and glamorous costumes.

Bakalinksy:
"[T]he grand Pacheco Stairway is by far the most elegant in San Francisco. An urn of flowers 20 feet in diameter introduces this long stairway placed amidst forest and lawns. The stairs themselves--18.5 feet wide, with balustrades, columns, and patterns of stones repeating into the distance--lend a dreamlike, rococo quality to the setting. Think of Alain Resnais's film Last Year at Marienbad; and how easily the Pacheco Stairway could fit the surroundings of Marienbad. This walk of curves and curlicues reiterates the innate elegance of this stairway in its Forest Hill setting."
I did not dwell on the Pacheco Stairway for very long...but I did enjoy the urn.

Forest Hill

Forest Hill

Forest Hill

Forest Hill

The name of this neighborhood is Forest Hill. This is a foggy part of town that I've driven by many times but never had occasion to visit.

Forest Hill

Forest Hill

Forest Hill

Forest Hill

Forest Hill

Forest Hill

Forest Hill

Forest Hill

Forest Hill

Forest Hill

The well-established, low/no maintenance San Francisco garden at Castaneda and Ventura mixes palms, agaves, aloes, and yucca with flax, echium, tibouchina, aeonium, berberis, and a gunnera--all doing well together, under quite a bit of shade.

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Forest Hill

Forest Hill

Forest Hill

If that's a hydrangea, it does not go.

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Elsewhere, I really liked this Aeonium 'Schwartzkopf' + Coleonema pair.

Forest Hill

By then it was time to go.

Forest Hill

Forest Hill

Forest Hill

11 comments:

Jenn said...

Ai! The green, the lush, the quirky buildings, the beauty!

Christopher C. NC said...

Is there some sort of context for why all these stairways bisect the neighborhoods in San Fran, a city building ordinance or some such? I just don't see developers doing this on their own volition.

That little hydrangea looking shrub looks like it could be a hibiscus.

Frances said...

This is some pretty luxe territory! Love the arched gate and doorway, that might have to go into my idea book for future house building. If only there could be someone found who could do it. That large urn is a marvel, I wonder how it got there and who paid for it? City taxes? Who plants it? The landscaping you showcased is so well thought out. We just bought six gold leaved yuccas for the blue pots out front. I never used to like them, but the low maintenance is a real draw along with the spikes. Evergreen we hope. Clematis stans is blooming now.
Frances

chuck b. said...

This neighborhood is one of San Francisco's few neighborhoods with an HOA. All the homeowners must pay dues to maintain the public areas.

Until 1978, they also had to pay for street maintenance, because the streets are not to city code. And they *still* have to pay for stair and sidewalk maintenance.

This neighborhood was laid out in the 1910s and 20s before the kind of sense Christopher describes became the norm.

Michelle said...

Thanks for sharing another great walk Chuck. I used that book when I spent a weekend in The City last month. Finally got to see the parrots on Telegraph Hill :)

I love that Coleonema and and Aeonium duo, too bad the deer insist on munching my Aeoniums...

chuck b. said...

I am death to Aeonium. I don't know what I'm doing wrong.

cloverann said...

I killed my Aeonium 'Zwartkopf'/'Schwartzkopf', too. So I bought an even more expensive A.'Dinner Plate'!! Still alive! I have it in a place I don't reach with the hose often..hmmmm another victim of overwatering??
But loved your photo of the coleonema combo AND the phormium in the backgrund -looks like P.'Guardsman' - oohhlala. I have that - it's incredible when backlit.
That urn - what a fantastic piece. But do you think it would've been better w/o the Tibouchinas crowding it? I can't decide...Glad you're back hiking around SF with your (great) camera.

Les said...

I appreciate that you took several shots of the urn as they give you a good sense of its context. As ever, your shots of all of the exotica give me zone envy. I really like the Schwartzkopf paired with that finely textured goldy green foliage.

Wondering Woman said...

Siting here in the south, almost 100 degrees, too damn hot to be outside and tired to death of being inside. Your tour was just what I needed. Loved the light green Dick Tracy looking house...... Thanks

cdillon said...

chuck b.
I am endlessly grateful for your documentation of this the beauty you find around you every day.
When I miss the city, you show me the sweet side and the creamy filling.
much gratitude, dude.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

*happy sigh*

I just adore taking these walks/drives with you. Thanks, from a girl who is not likely to ever see California in person! :)