Garden Vignettes – Sweet Gardening

Carefully arranged potting bench and surroundings
Carefully arranged potting bench and surroundings

On my recent trip to San Francisco for the garden bloggers “fling” when we visited Rebecca Sweet’s beautiful garden, what struck me about her design strategy was “garden vignettes”, “design spotlights”, and “skinny spaces”. Rebecca Sweet is an innovative garden designer who lives in northern California and wrote “Garden Up-Smart Vertical Gardening for Small and Large Spaces”.  And she certainly uses every vertical space available!

What makes a garden personal and a reflection of you? Think of decorating your interior space when you put personal collectibles or mementoes from travels on your end tables or shelves. You create little vignettes of items that go together to make a statement and express what you enjoy.

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Well, that is what drew me to Rebecca Sweet’s garden in San Francisco. She had a small to medium garden, but every time you went around a corner or entered a new space, you stopped to look at the small collection of objects that she had arranged to express a feeling, experience, or set the stage. So, even though the square footage wasn’t large, the good use of space, both horizontal and vertical enhanced the garden space and it took a long time to take everything in.

I loved this salvaged mantle with "flames" of sanseveria
I loved this salvaged mantle with “flames” of sanseveria

The visit inspired me to visit my local salvage yard to pursue some “finds” to enhance my outdoor space.

A collection of plant stands and containers
A collection of plant stands and containers
A skinny space artfully done
A skinny space artfully done
The back of Rebecca Sweet's shed is covered with artifacts
The back of Rebecca Sweet’s shed is covered with artifacts

Some people would call it clutter, but each piece looked like it was carefully selected and displayed. Call it a museum of garden “stuff”, in a painterly style.

Sitting area
There were plenty of places to sit to enjoy the garden

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Sea shell vignette
Sea shell vignette

Clustering and collections were used throughout the garden just like you would decorate your house.

Designing vertical space
Designing vertical space

A heavy use of succulents and agaves was very noticeable, but we are in California where these things thrive! I call this kind of design California Fusion, with a layered and lush approach to design.

Sempervirens everywhere
Sempervirens everywhere
Another vertical element was the use of cattle fence as an arbor, a low cost solution to growing vines in a small space
Another vertical element was the use of cattle fence as an arbor, a low cost solution to growing vines in a small space

No space was left untouched.  Even behind the shed, the trash recycling area, and the kids play area, usually neglected areas, was thoughtfully designed.

Collections of found objects
Collections of found objects
Under the play set was an entire miniature world!
Under the play set was an entire miniature world!
Everything had a place, even the recycling
Everything had a place, even the recycling
The outdoor kitchen area which seems to be a requirement for California living
The outdoor kitchen area which seems to be a requirement for California living

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Rebecca Sweet was a very gracious hostess as well as her dog who was a rescue “Borgi”, a cross between a Border Collie and Corgi.

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