Secret Gardens of the East Bay

I only saw four gardens on this tour today. Here is the one that I liked, designed and maintained by Sequoiah Wachenheim and Jay Tidwell, owners and operators of Earthly Arts. This is their home garden.

The backyard is dedicated to food, including "raspberries, loganberries, mulberries, kumquats, Asian pears, pomegranates, and plums" not to mention all the greens and onions you see here:

oh my

oh my 2

oh my 3

They bought the property six years ago and pickaxed out the weedy back lawn. Thirty cubic yards of horse poop later, voilĂ .

oh my 4

oh my 5

oh my 6

oh my 8

oh my 9

oh my 10

A meditative side yard with a small lawn connects the front and back yards.

oh my 14

oh my 13

oh my 11

Note the yellow Chiranthodendron-type flowers floating in the water. Long-time readers may remember seeing the flowers of Chiranthodendron pentadactylon many times on this blog. That Latin American plant is cousin to California's Fremontodendron which you've also seen many times. The flowers in the pool are from a cross generic hybrid that you can usually find for sale at Dry Garden.

This side-yard used to be a rabbit run, but I overheard Ms. Wachenheim tell a visitor that the bunny was incompatible with their strawberry patch. Now bunny is only allowed out on supervised release. (They also have chickens of course.)

oh my 12

The ornamental front yard uses many of the plants you commonly find in contemporary Californian dry designs.

oh my 15

oh my 16

oh my 18

oh my 19

oh my 20

But I would say the kapok tree (Chorisia speciosa) is more common in Southern California. I recently drove by a mile of it on Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills.

oh my 21

Aeonium 'Schwarzkopf'--a lovely black aeonium. I've tried this plant a few times, and it always reverts to green! Which is, like, totally inexplicable to me.

oh my 22


Bonnie Story said...

I really appreciate their use of straw to keep weeds down between rows/beds. It smells so good in the summer sun. And it's cheap and can be recycled into other beds or compost.

Also, I love how they have their New Zealand flax nestled in with other plants instead of stuck out by itself. All alone, the strappy, pointy shape of flax is too harsh-looking for me, but it provides wonderful contrast when bunched with other various plants.

Very inspiring place!!

Phillip Oliver said...

A stunning garden and so colorful. That black aeonium is amazing!

Brieannon said...


Bay Area Tendrils said...

And....my friend's A. Swartzkopf specimens always bloom - one block from here, while my plants, in various places in the garden, never bloom. I think my friend has some plants that revert, at times.

Pam/Digging said...

You got a lot of nice images. Such a lot to see. I really like those two water features, one moving and one still. Re: the still one, do you have to worry about mosquitoes in SF?

Unknown said...

Seriously, it reverts to green for you? Forget inexplicable, "completely unfair" is a much better phrase!

Chloe Marguerite said...


Great virtual tour - thanks!

We have a lot of kapok trees in Santa Barbara, and I have to say I'm not a big fan.

But Robinia? I lust for them... especially the chartruese leaved variety.

Chloe M.

lisa said...

Lots to see in that garden, for sure! Yea, reversion is just plain wrong. If a plant is that unstable, then it should be advertised as such, IMO.