Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Organic Mechanics Garden -- Fling 2013

Another garden that we saw in San Francisco during the Fling was the Organic Mechanics Garden, located right in the downtown core of the city. In fact, when our bus pulled up in front of an apartment building, and we were led into the building and down a flight of stairs and around corners, I'm sure we were all wondering what on earth was going on. Finally, at the end of the hallway, we got a glimpse of green, through a mysterious doorway that looked like it led to another universe. At some point during the time we were visiting this garden, we probably all ventured back into that corridor to get this shot:

Or this one:

Below is a description of the garden by Organic Mechanics:

"Sean Stout and James Pettigrew are the creative force behind Organic Mechanics, a garden design, build and maintenance firm. They are experts at creating sustainable artistic habitats.  Their own garden, nestled on the edge of the Tenderloin in downtown San Francisco, reflects the funky urban aesthetic of its surroundings, while at the same time being an amazing habitat. Visiting creatures include: mourning doves, Monarch and Tiger Swallow butterflies, robins, song finches, swallows and warring humming-birds to name a few. A hawk frequently visits to eat a pigeon on its favorite branch then bathes in our mosaic pond. One day the world’s smallest butterfly, a rare Pygmy Mission Blue, visited the garden. The plantings are lush and varied. 

While many plants were orphaned, the garden includes many rare and unusual plants. Some of these are weeping Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens ‘Loma Prieta’), Peyote (Laphorphora williamsii), a Manzanita native to San Francisco (Arctostaphylos  franciscana) Shamanic sage (Salvia divinorum), a weeping broom that smells like grape cool-aid (Psoralea fleta), and my favorite California native Wooly Blue Curls (Tricostema lanatum). The garden is designed for people to enjoy as well. Special features include stone and mosaic paths (created from recycled materials), many seating nooks and unique garden art. An old wall dog sign on a brick wall says “Owl cigars 2 cents” painted over by “Owl Cigars now 5 cents.” Visitors are sure to fall under the spell of this urban garden’s magical charms."

Just inside the door is a massive Bougainvillea trained into a standard form

This was another cool garden that made good use of found objects as both decor and as plant containers.

Who knows where this piece of cement pipe embedded in a chunk of concrete came from? But it makes a cool container for a Callibrachoa.

I loved these terra cotta clay pipes, each holding a succulent.

There was a beautiful yellow rose blooming in the garden

I got a kick out of this face made out of found objects.

An interesting collection of cacti, which thrive in the San Francisco climate.

At various spots around the garden were hanging lanterns and other objects like this one, with Spanish moss attached that the birds steal for their nests.

Great re-use of an old, ornate wooden mantel

An eclectic pathway

An old toolbox re-used as a container for a variety of succulents

Cattails made of rebar and nuts and bolts

The garden had a resident parrot named Simon, who talked and sang.

Many of us ventured up onto the roof to view the garden from above.

For information about the garden design firm Organic Mechanics, click here.


  1. A fascinating garden full of great ideas. The repurposed items add to much to such a small garden. I just pinned most of your photos! So many great ideas here.

  2. A very atmospheric urban garden Alison, with bags of character!

  3. I am inspired to do the eclectic pathway and attempt the rusted cattails!

  4. Just love it all. I could lose myself here.

  5. This was sure a great garden to begin our tour! Such a wonderful surprise just stopping on the street like that and being led through the building like a herd of sheep to find the treasure in the courtyard.

  6. Your shots of this garden are stunning especially the first one!!!

  7. I really like how funky this garden is. If I had rusty cattails in my garden, I'd probably also have tetanus! :o)

  8. This was a great garden, to be sure. The entrance was amazing! Thanks for sharing all of your photos -- I'd forgotten all of the great details (that I didn't photograph...)

  9. Great pictures - I'm kicking myself we didn't get a picture of the rose, which was just perfectly sited. I also love the picture from the roof.

  10. That has GOT to be the happiest parrot in North America! What a great place to call home! Love the rusty cattails and all the great details. The bougainvillea makes me swoon!

  11. I want to get some clay chimney inserts and fill them with plants.. similar to what was in this garden. I was so wrapped up in the garden I didn't realize one could go up on the roof until I saw pictures on FB!


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