So I'm having a party this weekend. (Have you heard?) If you haven't received a personal invitation, please note the photo to the right and join us. (The more the merrier.)
I'm pleased as punch that my garden was recently awarded "Best Bay Area Garden Installation" by the SFBA NARI folks (that's the San Francisco, Bay Area National Association of Remodeling Industry) which meant there's cause to celebrate and we'd like to share this lovely achievement with all of you.
There will be live music, light noshing, craft beers and chalk art for the kids. (Children welcome, unless they're the four-legged variety.) My co-host is Beth Froelicher of System Pavers. Beth and her team did all of the hardscape on the garden and it included an outdoor kitchen, fireplace, columns, pathways, and a new driveway, which means this was a complex project with A LOT of moving parts. If you're considering any of the above, I'd highly recommend Beth and her fantastic team at System Pavers. They were great to work with.
Those beautiful arches in the photo were designed and built by by my friend's sister, Jennifer Asher, of Terra Scuplture. Jennifer's no joke, with important installations that have been commissioned for private and public spaces alike including the Getty Museum. I'd fallen in love with her work at the Sunset Test Gardens in Sonoma and then ran into Jennifer at the Sterns' annual Hanukkah party. When she said the arches were a stock item and she could ship them almost immediately, I took her up on her offer and although my husband, Cliff, was skeptical at first, he isn't any longer. For a house that's primarily right angles, it's nice to have something that curves and the Eden roses are beyond spectacular and also, surprisingly, easy. (They make me look like I know what I'm doing!)
The template for the garden was the brain child of Chris Ford of CFLA, a previous Piedmont neighbor and local landscape architect extraordinaire. Chris listened to my goals, created the vision and set the scene so that Jill and I could follow our hearts' desire which is to plant! It's rare that professional landscapers will trust amateurs like us to fill in the canvas, but I had a fairly clear idea of what I wanted and although the garden is probably busier than it should be (according to Jill), I consider these colorful beds my living experiment for what works, and just as importantly, what doesn't.
Which brings me to my main point: a successful garden is largely the result of a fair amount of failures. (That might be true of a successful career as well.) Anyone who spends time in the dirt knows that you can have a row of identical shrubs, and five of them will flourish while the sixth, merely a few feet away, struggles desperately to survive. Don't despair; the garden is full of micro-climates and what doesn't work in one spot may very well flourish in another. (I'm thinking of my elder son who went all the way to New Zealand to find his passion before returning home and planting himself in Raleigh, NC.)
It strikes me that that's been my journey this spring as well, having moved my real estate practice from one well-respected brokerage to another just last fall. (I've never been busier, thank you very much.) It's a new garden to be sure, but it was a change that's allowed me to shine in a way that provided the necessary sunlight to stretch my branches. I'm growing beyond my little pot in a whole new direction and that's both challenging and incredibly exciting at the same time. Have there been growing pains? To be sure. But it's the only way we learn. The bonus is the unexpected blooms!
So join me this weekend and let's talk gardens, houses, remodeling, or whatever else strikes your fancy. Because when it's time to sell your home, the first thing that's going to be noticed is your curb appeal and if you can't get people past the front yard, the front gate, or the front door, it doesn't matter what's inside, or how well-maintained the house is . . . the love affair needs to start at the sidewalk. (BTW, if you want to get your house in order, throw a party and a invite a few hundred people over! That really provides the impetus to check off your "To Do" list.)
Come meet some of the professionals that helped me create my personal love story and let's see if we can help you create yours!
How can I help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 14 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.