My friend, Baylor Chapman, is one of those people who have chlorophyll running through their veins.
She’s not only the founder of Lila B. Design, a San Francisco flower design studio, but one of my favorite authors ever (if you haven’t read Decorating with Plants, you’re missing out!)
I was absolutely smitten with her (now former) floral studio but also the amazing building across the street – The Allied Box Factory.
Originally built in 1907 as the Allied Box & Excelsior Factory, it was converted in 1999 into an artist complex – smack dab in the middle of the city.
It also happens to be where Baylor lives. Can you imagine living in this fantastic historic building and walking across the street to go to work?
Not only is the building a visual treat from the outside, but once you pass through the gates, it feels like you’re Dorothy whose landed in Oz.
But first, you have to get there.
After running across a very hectic Folsom street (trying not to get run over by the whizzing traffic), you then pass through the locked gate, and this is what you see (below.)
This has got to be the most beautiful shared courtyard garden I’ve ever seen.
Twice a year, the tenants participate in Garden Days where they get together to clean, prune, plant, fertilize, BBQ, eat, drink and enjoy one another’s company.
This is the very definition of a group effort!
Meandering pathways that wind through and around dense planting beds help make this courtyard garden appear much larger than it is.
And just look at how skinny some of those planting beds become, tapering down to a sharp point, proving there’s no space too small for a plant!
An optical illusion is created when a path curves just out of view, appearing as if it keeps on going.
The ‘disappearing path’ also creates a sense of mystery by not showing everything at once.
In fact, this is a trick I often do to make a garden appear larger than it is.
The examples left, and below, show how a slightly curving path that meanders through a garden not only beckons one to explore, but visually enlarges the space.
In all three of these examples, the dimensions of each of the spaces are actually quite small however it doesn’t necessarily appear that way.
But I digress – let’s get back to that fabulous Allied Box Factory garden!
Nestled beneath the stairs of this two-story building is an ample seating area – another excellent example of making every inch count in a small space.
Surrounding this seating area is a vibrant garden filled with lush plantings and artistic touches.
Take a peek below to see what I’m talking about!
This subtle marker lies in the middle of the garden.
I love the quote: ‘And by their works, shall ye know them.’
Thank you, Jillen, for creating such a magical space for so many people to enjoy.
Wow!! SF is a great spot for secret gardens great example that you don’t need a lot of space for a lush space. Thnx Rebecca for the continued inspiration!
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Kristi – SF is one of my favorite places for small space inspiration!
Thank you, Rebecca, for your wonderful treat this morning. Loved it and am inspired by this garden. Would that mine looked as good.
I’m so glad you enjoyed the garden tour this morning, Bobbie!
OHMYGOSH!!!!!!! I NEVER look at my computer on Sundays, but I’m so glad I did today. This is a FABULOUS story of creation and I wish I could’ve met her and walked those paths.
Rebecca Sweet, your writing ROCKS. Chlorophyll running through her veins. Why didn’t I write that?
Love, love, love this,
Sharon – you know how to make my head swell, don’t you!!! Everything Baylor does is pretty darn magical (kinda like YOU) and oh, how I wish you could see her garden. You would love it so much, especially the community aspect of it. Someday, perhaps, when you’re cruising around SF maybe it can happen!!! 😉
Hi Rebecca – this was indeed a special treat to wake up to. I do believe that the color of the building is the outstanding example of the “marrying” of the site and the plants and the design.
don’t you wish more of the industrial buildings took this into account?
Baylor Chapman did a brilliant job with this design and I particularly like the paths.
I LOVE the color of that building, too, Nan. It has such an old-SF-industrial feel to it, absolutely perfect. I’d be under the stairs in that sweet hidden nook, sipping coffee every morning.
I really like the curving path idea to make things look bigger. Thanks for the tip!
They’re so beautiful, aren’t they, Nicole? They’re so unique in their dimensions and they work SO well in that space.
This was a special treat to see this morning. Thank you for sharing it, Rebecca!
You’re very welcome, Marilee! 🙂
I just this morning opened your story about the Allied Box Factory garden. What an oasis in the city! Is this garden open to the public? Thank you so much for sharing and congrats to those in that community group who perform such a miracle/
Hi John, I’m so glad you enjoyed visiting this garden but unfortunately I don’t believe it’s open to the public. It’s an oasis for the residents and artists who live there and I was fortunate to visit as a guest of Baylor’s.
I have no words to express the comforting beauty of this living art. What a gift to see these curving gardens every time you step into this courtyard. It’s perfect for dear Baylor! I’m truly in awe. Thank you.
Baylor has certainly done an amazing job at surrounding herself with inspiration and beauty, from her apartment, to this garden, and then to her incredible work. I’m so glad to have visited this treasure of a garden.
Community in the real sense, like we see here, is something we crave now more than ever!
It’s such a special place, isn’t it? Everyone must love it so much and I’m sure it was an absolute haven during the pandemic,
It’s so lovely – what a treat to see this at the beginning of my day.
Thanks, Barbara, it’s one of my favorites, that’s for sure. 🙂
Inspirational! Thank you for this loveliness first thing in my morning…
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Dawn, thank you!
A truly amazing garden! What an im inspiration! Thanks for this wonderful article.
You’re welcome, Rebecca, glad you enjoyed it!
Oh Baylor, the honor is always mine. Thanks for letting me write about you again – you always provide such inspiration!!
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!!
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!
You’re so welcome, Laura! Thanks for stopping by today!