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Humble Beginnings

Articles: Humble Beginnings

Furcraea roezlii blue form, a euphorbia, Cussonia paniculata, and pheasant grass (Anemanthele lessoniana) flank a narrow path through the garden. Photographs by Saxon Holt
When I set out to develop our garden in a hilly “banana-belt” of Oakland, I had neither a plan, nor a budget, nor an inkling of what was to transpire during the next six years. I knew from my academic and real world experience in horticulture and landscaping (and from having lived with graduate landscape architecture students during college), that site assessment was a critical factor in successfully developing an aesthetically pleasing, functional, and somewhat sustainable landscape. (I use the term “sustainable” in the popular sense here, not necessarily in the scientifically accurate definition, as nearly all of our landscapes require various amounts of external inputs of energy and resources, no matter our good intentions or persistent efforts.)
With this in mind, I resolved to assess and prepare the site over the course of a full year—essentially an entire gardening season here in the mild-mediterranean West. This involved several prac...

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