The Way We Roll

Planter boxes on wheels are becoming increasingly popular around café and shop entryways in the City. Have you noticed? The ultimate small spot – a container – that won’t be stolen or vandalized come nighttime, nor will prompt curse words to fly from the mouth of the person with the closing shift attempting to lug a heavy planter through the doorway. And how much cuter can you get than a Radio Flyer full of houseplants?

Or, for a more modern aesthetic, a recycled metal duct. But these are just two examples. The possibilities for moveable planters-on-wheels are pretty infinite.

Sit on This!: Old & Board is New and Cool

What is a garden if not a refuge in which to relax, to contemplate, to chill? Reserving space for the “hang out and enjoy” area is an aspect of landscape design that should never be overlooked. The folks at the San Francisco-based furniture company, Old & Board, seem to think so too, only they factor in the concepts of beauty and sustainability in addition to functionality. All their custom-made chairs are crafted from reclaimed wood (sometimes even out of the ubiquitous pallet), and though some of their chairs retain evidence of the wood’s previous use, in others the original grain and luster of the wood is artfully invited back to life.

After admiring the vitality of Old & Board’s creations, it’s hard to imagine buying cheap outdoor furniture at a stripmall hardware store that will eventually end up in a landfill. And though they’re not tacky and plastic, their chairs are far from über chi-chi. As they put it on their website: “We love imperfections. Nail holes, wood knots and discoloration – that is what makes these chairs unique. If you are looking for clean lines or a contemporary look, these pieces most likely aren’t for you. Just being honest.”


Vital Veggies….Anywhere!

Within the past several years a lot folks have decided they want to start growing their own food in urban areas. This is a wonderful resurgence, for both the personal and the planetary. And guess what? Vegetables can thrive even in San Francisco’s odd little spots, and even in a mild, often foggy climate. This brick planter is along a driveway in the notoriously chilly Outer Sunset. It’s packed with kale, chard, collards, bok choy, arugula, favas, turnips, leeks – an amazing variety for a tiny space.

In a backyard in Noe Valley, this was built last summer by Small Spot Gardens, sited under an old pergola that was too small to be really be used as a sitting area. The perfect place, though, for a raised veggie bed. During winter, kale, chard, and salad greens flourish – the quintessential leafy greens for optimal health, year-round harvesting, and good growing in less-than-sunny conditions.

At another Small Spot client’s yard, this veggie plot was made using stone rescued from a neighbor’s debris pile. All living proof that it doesn’t take much to make a happy habitat for some kale and chard.

Still Life with Toilet

Re-purposing decommissioned porcelain from bathrooms for use as garden planters is undoubtedly not everyone’s style. Sometimes the attempts at funkiness and kitsch, once executed, can be a little too, well, trashy and haphazard. However, this aesthetic can serve many practical purposes. In a city where theft is a constant issue (sometimes even ceramic gnomes can’t protect a junkyard garden!), toilet- and bathtub-planters present a hefty challenge to potential potted plant thieves. And of course, diverting housing materials from a slow death in a landfill is always a huge bonus. In terms of design, this Inner Richmond garden makes a small rectangle look thoughtfully put together, employing different heights and a complementary scheme of colors and textures to create a coordinated flow, almost like a still life painting. And if you plant a cactus in a old toilet, rest assured no passer-bys will attempt to use it!