My Oakland Garden

seated next to the centered spiral

In the late 80’s it was a good idea to settle my ass down after a debaucherous run in San Francisco’s fast-paced art and nightlife scene.

I ended up in a little cottage in North Oakland behind four apartments. Without the distractions of city lights and easy vice, I put my hyperactive energy into a bland plot of lawn.

From the street, it was hidden, but by taking a few steps up, a few steps down a pathway, and then through a gate I would enter my retreat. A narrow sidewalk around the cottage and along the property line formed a long L. And there was a stoop that served as my surveyor’s perch for the next couple of years as I dug in.

The yard was approximately fifty feet by two hundred feet of mostly old grass and a few struggling bushes around the edges. There was a perimeter bed that was dense and deep with ivy and its notorious complex root structure. Over six months I dug up that web of the relentless vine. In some spots I probably went three feet deep to stem the invasion. I did save some as I went along. I had time to consider it and it became a living foundation for what would come.

There were also some hydrangea bushes. One blue-purple and the others pink. They ended up being quite showy and good producers. When I first found them they had stopped flowering much and were in need of some pruning to have a new start. I took it a step at a time.

Just outside of the entrance was a long-neglected Fuschia. After a brave edit, it flourished too.

I began the process with small experiments with pansies and such. I knew there … more