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The San Francisco Bay Area is a gardener’s paradise, with no off-season and the possibility of growing almost anything a plant lover’s heart desires. In Private Gardens of the Bay Area (October 2017, $60, The Monacelli Press), seasoned garden writers Susan Lowry and Nancy Berner and landscape photographer Marion Brenner celebrate the diversity of approaches in the Bay Area, illuminating the unrivaled 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 features more than thirty-five private gardens. These encompass 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. Interviews with owners and creators of the gardens provide context to a rich collection of photographs, addressing the principles of the design and contemporary issues of drought tolerance and balance with the natural landscape.
About the Authors
Susan Lowry and Nancy Berner are a highly regarded garden-writing team, successfully collaborating on Gardens of the Garden State and Gardens of the Hudson Valley as well as Garden Guide to New York City. Berner is a book editor and an editorial consultant to several non-profits. Lowry was a television journalist in Canada and the United States before changing fields and earning a diploma in landscape architecture. Together, they have lectured widely in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut on the subject of urban public gardens.
Marion Brenner is acknowledged as the leading landscape photographer working today. Her photographs are widely published in landscape and gardening media and she has documented the work of well-known designers including Andrea Cochran and Ron Lutsko. She is the photographer for Outstanding American Gardens: 25 Years of the Garden Conservancy and The Bold Dry Garden: Lessons from the Ruth Bancroft Garden.