Uniquely Garden Hortica

2014 SFFG Garden Hortica gets GOLD!

for Sanctuary Steppes

It all began as what I call the happening...some time at the beginning of Sep 2013 a young man named Ilya Pinsky of Village Yurts wanted to use some backyard space to set up his hand made yurts.  My immediate thought was Sanctuary Steppes...a yurt in a carefully designed garden. 

Not one week later I ran into Richard Koenig of Healing Spirit Plants.  Bingo...why not include healing plants in a garden design.  We've already seen gardens with ornamental, CA natives, low water plants so why not healing plants.  

The submission was made to the show producers and the planning work began...from sourcing the hardscapes to the trees and grasses as early as November 1013.  For this we want to thank the generous support of two key sponsors for the show...Lyngso for all the rocks, boulders, gravel and mulch.  Pacific Nurseries for the big trees and over 400 x 1 gal grasses.  

Richard of course provided healing plants from his own nursery.  Suncrest, Walker Avenue and East Bay nurseries the rest.

The rest as they say is...a picture tells it all...

Here are some pics during installation...the final pics are credited to Dawood Sekhem Marion who's camera eye is so amazing...

Finally if you like what you see and want one, you know what to do...thanks for looking!  YES!  GOLD!


This is how it all starts...an empty concrete floor in the San Mateo Event Center.  First task is to chalk the layout...well most of it got wiped out with forklift tires. The footprint of the garden desing is 30' x 50' or 1,500 sf.  You are given 6.5 days to complete your garden for the judges.

The big boulders all 32 of them are carefully placed by forklift.  Then the big trees, mostly in 24-inch boxes or 25 gal and smaller 15 gal are put in place only to be moved later for final spotting. 

We were ahead of schedule and got all the big hardscapes and trees done in about 6 hrs instead of the planned two days!



The yurt goes up.  The roof and walls of the yurt are hand painted by two artists.  I did the roof with its cloud band pattern, which is commonly found in Asiatic textiles.  Jean Paul Marcelo, an oil artist did the walls which was a take from Gustav Klimt work.  We decided to call it the Vine of the Soul (vs Life).  You can see two different artistic styles.

This is the inside of the yurt looking up...the cloud band pattern sees through...

The back of the yurt which shows the Vine of the Soul hand painted on the canvas.

Day Four...we're done...notice the windows are now cut out.  Foreground tree is a curly willow.

The following pics of the completed design are thanks to Dawood.  Notice the plants are all tagged.  Inside the yurt is actually covered with Tibetan rugs.  The dragon rug is Mongolian. We were not looking to accessorize the inside authentically.  But to create a sanctuary in our eyes...