Uniquely Garden Hortica

Stories in Pictures

Garden Hortica featured in the Garden & Home Section of San Francsico Chronicle Sunday August 8, 2010.

Below is an extract of the story:

San Francisco Chronicle Sun Aug 8, 2010

There's more than one way to create an urban garden. If the Pennsylvania Garden grew organically out of a neighborhood's need for beauty, Garden Hortica in downtown Oakland is more of an individual and commercial vision. Garden designer Jeffery Lim found a vacant pie slice on Seventh Street near the police station and courthouse, leased the land and turned it into a green space that he hopes will become a neighborhood magnet.

Odds and ends

Malaysia-born Lim, who has exhibited in several San Francisco Flower and Garden Shows, teamed up with plantsman David Le to create Hortica, which opened in July. Lim assembled odds and ends of salvage - a shipping container, part of the gangplank of a boat - while Le brought in succulents, proteas and tomatoes for sale.

The container, rechristened a Green Outdoor Room, was given a green roof with magenta-flowered rock purslane (Calandrinia) and other drought-tolerant plants. Eventually, vines will screen the front; for now, painted banners fill the space. Twisted liana roots and rattan mats from Indonesia decorate the interior.

One of Lim's most elegant inventions is the Cindergarden: a simple dry-stacked cinder block wall with some blocks turned 90 degrees to provide pockets for planting. "It caught a lot of eyes at our opening," he told us. "It's so basic. We wanted to go home and build our own."

Lim and Le aim to sustain their business through the sale of plants, containers, garden art, rental fees from special events held at the garden and the installation of gardens for schools and nonprofits.

A multiuse space

"Garden design and community gardening don't usually meet," Lim said. "We tried to bring the two together. Community gardens are single use; this is more of a multiuse garden space. Neighbors can hold social gatherings here. If someone wants to have a party, they can bring food."

He sees Garden Hortica as a prototype as well as a demonstration garden for the business: "Community gardens are always going after grant money. There must be a way to make it financially sustainable. We're trying to show the community - local schools or churches - they can do this with some bootstrapping."

The opportunities are there: "Oakland has marginal land that could be turned into community gardens if the bureaucrats would think outside the box," Lim says.

Grassroots or entrepreneurial: There's room out there for all sorts of models. Let a hundred flowers bloom.

Urban gardens

Garden Hortica: 668 Seventh St., Oakland.. (510) 882-3390. Follow us at www.facebook.com/gardenhorticaplace

Joe Eaton and Ron Sullivan are naturalists and writers in Berkeley. Check out their website at www.selbornesurveys.com, or e-mail them at home@sfchronicle.com.

(C) San Francisco Chronicle 2010


Garden Hortica in Pictures


Red bamboo curtain

Garden stools in front of the Green Box

Cindergarden Wall Planter

Container garden of succulents