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Private Gardens of the Bay Area

Written by Susan Lowry, Nancy Berner, Photographer Marion Brenner
Seasoned garden writers Susan Lowry and Nancy Berner, along with leading landscape photographer Marion Brenner, tour more than thirty-five private gardens in the San Francisco Bay Area, illuminating the unrivalled beauty of Northern California—the breadth of the sky, the quality of the light, the sparkle of the Bay, the shapes of the hills—that has beckoned landscape designers and gardeners for generations.
Organized geographically—starting with the San Francisco Peninsula, moving north into San Francisco itself, crossing the Bay into Berkeley and Oakland, and finishing in Napa, Sonoma, and Marin—Private Gardens of the Bay Area encompasses an extraordinary range of micro-climates that foster the cultivation of an equally extraordinary range of plants. The kaleidoscope of vigorous plants from five continents bursting out of an Oakland front yard is one kind of garden, the clean-lined contemporary composition of drought-tolerant natives and gravel is another, and the garden tucked into the mountain landscape of oaks, manzanitas, and ceanothus is yet another.
This fascinating tour includes gardens such as Green Gables, where the 1911 terraced design by Greene & Greene is meticulously preserved; Big Swing, with a world-renowned collection of salvias; a vertical garden on a vertiginous site in San Francisco by Surfacedesign; and a romantic landscape of lawns, perennial beds, and stately oaks owned by noted collectors and gallerists Gretchen and John Berggruen. Lowry and Berner describe the goals of each garden owner and the principles behind the designs.
"You have to hand it to authors Susan Lowry and Nancy Berner, when they choose a subject for one of their handsome books that transport you to the gardens of a particular region they are not drawn to homogenous places.... Private Gardens of the Bay Area is the fascinating result of its authors dedicated research and thoughtful selection.  It offers an engrossing and informative prospective of properties mostly hidden from public view that reveals the impressive array of gardening styles in the Golden State."

"'Adventurous, spirited and eclectic' is how co-authors Susan Lowry and Nancy Berner describe the 30-plus unseen grounds captured in their new book, Private Gardens of the Bay Area (The Monacelli Press, $60). Berkeley-based photographer Marion Brenner's images showcase everything from an English-style garden in La Honda to a Pacific Heights backyard brimming with Japanese maples and fruit trees; each is varied, yet united by a sense of drama."
C magazine

"Flip through the new coffee-table book Private Gardens of the Bay Area, and you'll see your fair share of enviable, sprawling landscapes.... From a child-centered play area where the only green that grows is on the walls to a Tetris-like assemblage of concrete ramps and steel walkways leading to the top of Telegraph Hill, it's immediately clear that in the city we do gardens, like so many things, a little differently."
San Francisco magazine

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