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A traveling eco-garden finds a seaside home

The display garden as seen at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show.
The display garden as seen at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show.

Landscape architect Jeffrey Gordon Smith and his associates Tom Hessel and Danielle Cegelski believe that gardens should be environmentally sustainable.

Last year, for example, they created a temporary garden to demonstrate sustainable design principles at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden’s “At Home in the Garden” event.

Their exhibit emphasized recycling: discarded ends of black plastic corrugated drainage pipes were upended to become soil containers. Their circular form was repeated by multi-colored gaskets used as ground covers and rusty pipes as upright accents.

Rusted steel panels with semi-circular cutouts served as a backdrop against a concrete wall. Some succulent plants repeated the circular form of the containers, while others trailed over the edges.

The installation was so well suited to its site that the Botanical Garden asked to retain it for a year, rather than dismantling it at the end of the three-week event. By the date set for its removal, a variation of the design had been accepted for the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, held last month. The temporary installation thus became an entire recycled garden.

The Flower & Garden Show incarnation was called “Pi r Squared”, a wry reference to mathematically determining the area of a circle. Additional drainage pipe planters were filled with Acacia, Artemisia, Kangaroo Paws and grasses along with the succulents.

The circular motif also was expanded to include a round Komodo Kamado outdoor grill and a bright orange portable Dutch hot tub.

Their effort led JGSLandscapeArchitecture to tie with the Filoli Center to win the Best of Show Award. The JGS display also received awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects, the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society, the Garden Conservancy, and Pacific Horticulture and Sunset magazines.

After the show, the garden was carefully dismantled and trucked to its final destination as a display garden for Porch Nursery, which recently moved to Santa Claus Lane in Carpenteria. According to its website, “Porch offers a unique blend of rustic-modern furnishingsthat support eco-friendly design and sustainable living”

There couldn’t be a more suitable location for a garden that has been recycled and reincarnated three times.

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