“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” Now, while I agree wholeheartedly with Cicero here, I feel he may have omitted a few other necessities in life – such as one’s morning cup of coffee. I function much better after I’ve had two cups of that delicious brew. It awakens my senses as part of my daily ritual for facing the world. Coffee can be highly useful and beneficial in a variety of manners. One of the many ways I use coffee is to reuse it’s byproduct – coffee grounds. I have a small garden on my balcony at home, and I have found used coffee grounds are excellent as plant food, due to its high levels of potassium, nitrogen, and other trace minerals – all of which are important for healthy plant growth. But is there such a place where coffee and plants come together in a beautiful, harmonious environment? Yes, there is.
Located in the Bayview area of San Francisco, there lies a hidden garden of wondrous delights known as Flora Grubb Gardens. Established by landscape designer Flora Grubb (yes, that is her real name) and French chef Saul Nadler in 2003, this charming array of plants and plant accoutrement is a feast for the senses. There is also a fountain within the garden, in the form of Ritual Coffee Roasters, a coffee distributor that has one of its stores inside. Established in 2005 and launching a coffee revolution, Ritual’s main goal is “to craft the very best cup of coffee available anywhere. Period.” One may get tea or coffee, and wander about the luscious grounds, admiring the elegant plants and handiwork of clever artisans. I ordered a mocha from the friendly and attentive barista. It was that flawless cup of perfection true coffee connoisseurs seek. I sipped my beverage and began my journey among the greenery.
One of my current obsessions is vertical gardens. They provide a beautiful, living wall of art, and introduce the wood element to an environment in a chic and unexpected way. Pictured above is a grouping of six vertical panels of rich succulents. Each panel measures 20″ by 20″ and is available for purchase at Flora Grubb, or at their online store (plants not included). I’d love to try my hand at creating a vertical herb garden perhaps using one of these boxes. More information about the D.I.Y. vertical garden panel is available here: http://shop.floragrubb.com/vertical-succulent-garden-d-i-y-panel/ Flora Grubb also offers a great tutorial on making you own vertical garden: http://floragrubb.com/florasblog/?p=894
Since Christmas, I’ve been debating what to do with my leftover string lights. I’m thinking of draping them along some kind of metalwork, like the beautiful filigree pieces above, Using reclaimed scraps from a variety of sources, they make great conversation pieces, and work well indoors or out. Although more intended for vines and foliage, I think string lights would adorn them quite nicely. Classy and colorful Fermob garden furniture can be seen throughout. The neon green-yellow chair on the right is part of their Luxembourg Collection, while the other pieces are all part of their Bistro Collection, which is based on the original French design patented in 1889. I’ve been thinking about acquiring some of those folding chairs, too. I really like the blue one in the bottom left. More information about their Bistro furniture can be found here: http://floragrubb.com/florasblog/?p=2450
Broken items or things in disrepair often attract sha, negative energy, into an environment. Is it always important to either fix the damaged item, or re-purpose it in a new and fashionable way. This classic car, a functional beauty in its heyday, has been reincarnated as a planter. It’s almost apocalyptic in how the plants, a wood element, have taken over this very metal automobile. It works brilliantly in this space because you have the other three elements working together in harmony alongside the wood and metal (the sunlight and red wall representing fire, the earth below, and the water sustaining the plants). I like how they use every available area in the car to house a plant. There are even trees growing through it! A miraculous and thought-provoking piece of living art.
These concrete chaises were deceptively comfortable. I sat here for a while with my mocha and didn’t want to get up. Many people have mixed opinions about this pair of cement seating, but I like it. However, I imagine they would be difficult to move around the property.
Pictured above is my friend Justina with her coffee and a new addition to her plant family. It’s a crassula of some kind, but I cannot tell you which one. It’s cute, though.
Gardening is one of those activities that is life-affirming and nourishing at the same time. From a feng shui perspective, it is one of the few actions that incorporates the physical touch of all five of the elements:
- Wood – The plants themselves
- Fire – The sunlight for the plants to grow
- Earth – The soil in which it grows
- Metal – Gardening tools and implements
- Water – Also needed for plants to grow
Yin and yang theory also plays a part here. Many people use gardening as a stress reducer from their hectic, technological yang-filled lives. Gardening can be a relaxing yin activity, which helps to replenish and balance out stress levels, bringing one back to nature and away from a highly mechanical world. In addition to being a creative outlet, gardening is also good exercise for people of every age, from young children to retirees. Not to mention one can grow their own fruits, vegetables and herbs. Most home-grown veggies taste far better than the store bought varieties. There is also aromatherapy of sorts working outdoors provides – the various scents of the soil, plants, flowers and air can literally invigorate the soul through olfactory means. (The smell of fresh-cut grass is a proven aphrodisiac.)
The scenery and items at Flora Grubb Gardens are constantly changing and evolving, with new wares coming in almost every day. I plan on returning here on my next business trip to San Francisco, to see what is currently being offered. And to have more Ritual Coffee. (Used coffee grounds also act as a bug repellent, for insects that meander through the soil, such as ants and slugs. It’s not toxic to them, but will definitely keep them away.) Come of think of it, I may not be able to wait that long for Ritual’s fine roasts – thankfully, one can order all of their coffee right here: http://www.ritualroasters.com/store/ I believe is was Thomas Jefferson who said, “Coffee – the favorite drink of the civilized world.”
Flora Grubb Gardens
1634 Jerrold Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94124
Hours: Monday – Saturday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Sunday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Ritual Coffee Roasters (located inside Flora Grubb)
Hours: Monday – Thursday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm, Friday – Saturday 9:00 am – 4:30 pm, Sunday 10:00 am – 4:30 pm