Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bernard Trainor garden preview

I'm so excited we get to tour a garden by one of my favorite designers - Bernard Trainor. This garden, featured in an issue of Pacific Horticulture (an excellent garden journal - if you've not heard of Pacific Hort, please check it out) was designed to embrace the California ideal of indoor-outdoor living.

Bernard Trainor excels at creating a fluidity between interior and exterior spaces. The arbor, walls and paving in the garden create the architectural bones and provide an excellent stage for the plantings.

The plantings were selected from several mediterranean climates and adapt well to our dry California summers.

If you would like to read more about how this wonderful garden came to be, please check out this Pac Hort article, written by the garden owner, Andrea Testa-Vought - The Secret is Finding the Right Garden Designer.  Photo credits: Andrea Testa-Vought.

And again, don't forget you can register for the San Francisco Garden Blogger's Fling here and get to see this gorgeous garden in person!

Monday, February 25, 2013


The Mission District's most recognizable namesake is the beautiful Mission Dolores, an architectural and cultural landmark.
It's really a beautiful building.

And its neighbor, Dolores Park, is another urban green space treasure that is well loved.

New playground area is great

You'll want to save a walk to Dolores Park for after you've had a historically significant burrito at Taqueria La Cumbre.
Walking out onto the sidewalk, stunned by the deliciousness you have just experienced, you will need a good walk to recover your equilibrium.

And, if you're Helen, you will need to make room for locally made ice creams.

Bi-Rite Creamery is a required stop

As is Humphry Slocumbe

Then, when balance has been regained, it's time to blow your mind at Paxton Gate,

where all the cool things live.

The mission district is too large and vibrant to sum up, or to see in a brief visit. Walking around on Mission and Valencia Streets, however, will give visitors an idea of the vibe.

The BART stop at 16th Street will let you off at a busy, central location from which you can find your way to the spots mentioned above.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hey! It's a valley

Hayes Valley is a neighborhood in SF that was transformed, as so many neighborhoods have been, by the removal of a highway overpass and exit. One of few benefits of our earthquakes has been the removal of portions of our shortsighted and destructive city highway system.

thankfully gone now.

Where there was once an overpass, there is now light, cross-street views, and a wide, street-level boulevard which ends at a neighborhood green.

Adjacent to the green is a home-grown ice cream shop, Smitten Ice Cream.

It's just off to the right of this photo, and looks like this:

Down the little street it fronts one finds another Blue Bottle Coffee.
Linden Alley is noteworthy for its transformation from a standard street to a small stretch of curbless, pedestrian-oriented, traffic-calmed, ADA-accessible street where civil engineers were forced to admit that the status quo is not the only way.
The end if the asphalt marks the beginning of the transformed area. Go have a coffee and support these small but effective changes!
Also, pretty damn nice trees (R.p. 'Frisia'), thanks to landscape designers.

There is a busy and happening shopping component to the Hayes Valley neighborhood, as well as good places to eat.
Support local businesses! The neighborhood association's website does a good job of highlighting what is available.


Hayes Valley is easily walkable from the fling hotel, or is a short taxi or bus ride away.
Points for the person who can most quickly locate the fling hotel without any map clues.

Also note that Alamo Square, a park not far from the Hayes Valley green, is the location of the most-photographed part of San Francisco: the row of unbearably charming Victorian houses with downtown skyscrapers in background.

n.b: SF maps don't always show topography, so expect hills where no hills are indicated.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Right outside your door

Your fling hotel is right downtown, surrounded by a whole lot of great stuff.
You can leave your room and within minutes find yourself sitting with a coffee in one of several public green spaces.

Jessie Square fronts the Contemporary Jewish Museum, across from Yerba Buena Gardens.

fling hotel off to left; cut through allee

Built atop an underground parking garage and flanking St. Patrick Church, the square is designed to be both a meeting place and a complement to the surrounding architecture.

these faceted planters were a temporary installation

Coffee can be found on Market Street at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (773 Market Street), or at Blue Bottle Coffee in Mint Plaza.

Mint Plaza is an award-winning public space that incorporates rainwater runoff capture within an elegant site design and provides seating on its iconic orange chairs, which are left scattered for users to arrange as they like.

There is, of course, a Starbucks on 3rd Street at Market, and, for non-carry-out beverages, easy-going Dave's bar is just across from your hotel.

Market Street, from your hotel at 3rd Street up to 5th, is stuffed with places to shop, from Walgreen's drugstore to the Westfield Center, er, Centre.

We apologize in advance for any part of life's rich pageant along Market Street that might get weird. Around here, we just roll with it.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Found only in S.F.

No visitor to San Francisco could be blamed for wanting to ride a cable car.

If you want to ride one of them and know where you're going, here's a little map of their routes.

Monday, February 4, 2013

On the tour: Keeyla Meadows' private garden

We are pleased to announce that we will be touring Keeyla Meadows' private garden during the San Francisco Garden Bloggers' Fling.

Keeyla Meadow is an amazing artist, sculptor and garden designer. Viewing her dream-like gardens is an unforgettable experience. Keeyla is author of Fearless Color Gardens: The Creative Gardener's Guide to Jumping Off the Color Wheel. A garden not to be missed! If you haven't registered yet, you can do so here - Garden Bloggers' Fling, San Francisco registration.