Because the wind can have a major effect on gardens, smart gardeners plant foliage that will thrive in big breezes.
A Golden Gate Heights garden faces all the challenges wind can bring: soil disturbance and dry plants.
Plants that do well in the area have tough leaves that don’t allow much evapotranspiration — the release of water through the “pores” of leaves — according to James Wilson of Ceanothus Gardens, who was brought in by owner Barbara Kobayashi to redesign the space.
Before, the yard consisted of a scrubby, patchy old lawn, a dilapidated planter and a water feature that had “outserved its purpose.”
Wilson’s plan was to take a high-maintenance garden and make an “aesthetically pleasing place visually.”
The scheme provided Kobayashi with a low-maintenance solution. Wilson planted drought-tolerant, Mediterranean and California grasses and shrubs as well as hardy, wind-resistant specimens.
Kobayashi, who volunteers at a nearby community garden, also wanted to incorporate native plants.
Taking advantage of the fact that the yard is not rectangular, Wilson created a winding flagstone path leading to a circular patio with a “nice feel” that draws the eye.
In the path’s center he built a mound and planted a “no-mow” lawn of fine fescue that needs trimming just every six months.
Outside the path are other species of low-maintenance fescues along with low-care Pacific Coast iris, another native plant.
Salvia, a native sage with purple flowers, blooms nearby. A juncus, or California rush, circles a black ceramic water feature and planter. It’s close to another Cape Rush from South Africa, which looks like reed grass and complements the water feature. Stipa, giant feather grass, blooms alongside it.
Farther along the path, aromatic gray-green thyme stands by dark purple phormium. New Zealand flax contrasts with the concrete retaining wall, which Wilson stained with a deep olive green acrylic to bring out lights and shadows on the surface and form a backdrop for the plants. At night, when the garden is lit, the effect is dramatic.
Euphorbia, or gopher plants, are at the far end of the path. They feature dark green foliage and light green blooms. Dark green azara grows in a corner.