About a month ago I did a diminutive installation on the tiniest of decks in the Mission District. Patrick Lannan of Flora Grubb Gardens had designed a nice upgrade to the clients’ back deck, and they contacted me to take care of the makeover for them.
One of the biggest challenges of planting a space this small is simply navigating with all your supplies and materials! The deck had a gas grill and a small Fermob bistro table with two chairs, and it was like working within a Jenga puzzle. I had to move something to work in a spot, then move it again to work the next spot, etc. I had to stage the new plants in trays on the table, the grill, and even the neighboring roof! It’s a common factor of gardening in tight urban spaces, and I consider myself quite expert at maneuvering and working in tight situations like this.
The clients had built little built-in troughs out of repurposed window boxes, lining the railings of their back deck. They had planted boxwood a year earlier, which is quite drought-tolerant in the ground, but it did not survive in this setting. Intense heat (by SF standards), no irrigation, and wind took their toll on the plants, and they shriveled and dried.
Patrick’s design called for a simple repetition of plants: grass-like Cordyline ‘Cha Cha’ and succulents Senecio crassissimus, Aeonium pseudotabulaeforme, and Sedum ‘Fine Gold Leaf’ made a nice combination of greens, orange, yellow, and blue-grey. A fun part for me was integrating an irrigation system: the boxes lined both sides of the back staircase, so I got to puzzle-together pieces of tubing to discreetly get water to all the plants, without being an eyesore or tripping hazard.
It was a nice little job for a few hours, and the end result is so much more appealing from their kitchen windows than a row of dead boxwood!