Gossip in the Garden

Harmony in the Garden's Chattier Side


The Allied Box Factory in San Francisco

A few weeks ago I paid a visit to Baylor Chapman, at her gorgeous floral studio Lila B. Design.  While I’ve written about her shop before (you can read it here), this time I’m writing about the building across the street.  Yep, it’s the giant green one which you can see out of her storefront window.

The building is called The Allied Box Factory, and Baylor just so happens to live there. It’s one of the great old timber buildings of San Francisco, that’s been converted into an artists live-work space. Originally built in 1907 as the Allied Box & Excelsior Factory (the company is still active today in a different location) it was converted into this artist complex in 1999, smack dab in the middle of the city.

Can you imagine?  Living in this super cool building? Walking across the street to go to work?  Yes, Baylor leads a charmed life.

Not only is the building old and beautiful, but once you walk through the gates it’s paradise.

Remember in the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy’s house finally landed from inside the whirling tornado?  When she opened the door and everything was in color?  Well, that’s what happens when you walk through the gate of the Box Factory.

After running across a very hectic Folsom street (trying not to get run over by the whizzing traffic) you open the door and this is what you see….

Paradise!  This has got to be the most beautiful shared courtyard garden I’ve ever seen.  Twice a year the tenants tend the garden during ‘Garden Days’, where they all get together and clean, prune, plant, fertilize, BBQ, eat, drink and chat.  In addition, one of the residents, Mill Nash from Clean Air Lawn Care, also helps with the garden when necessary.  This is what you call a group effort and it’s paying off big-time!

My favorite part of the garden are the paths that meander through tall plantings, giving the effect of a much larger space as well as a sense of mystery.

A contemporary looking seating area is nestled beneath the stairs, making every inch count in this courtyard.

And surrounding this seating area is a vibrant garden filled with lush plantings with artistic touches throughout.  See for yourself!

Another view as you walk up the stairs, showing you just how great those pathways are with the  skinny beds that snake throughout.

This subtle marker lies in the middle of the garden.

Thank you Jillen, for creating such a magical space.





9 Responses to The Allied Box Factory in San Francisco

    • Hi Matti – you SO need to check it out! Do you know Baylor Chapman? If not, definitely meet her – she’s fantastic and would happily give you a tour of the courtyard!!

  1. Rebecca, a real honor to have you visit! Really, you do amazing work, and I love your garden (can’t wait to see it in person!). Thanks for your sweet post ~ and great writing, tips, photos about gardens all over. I so enjoy following your news!

  2. Great photos, Rebecca! Did you take them the day we were there? Btw, did you know that excelsior is (or was, rather, before packing peanuts and bubble wrap) a packing material? Curled softwood shavings. The word also means, go figure, “excellence,” but both meanings have fallen out of use.

    • Thanks Debra – yes, while you were snapping away at Baylor’s succulents I was lingering in the courtyard. And no, I did NOT know the meanings of excelsior – very interesting!

  3. I’ve seen this beautiful courtyard on someone else’s blog before — wish I could remember who. But I’m delighted to see it again. What a special place someone has made.