ISSUE 7  |  Garage Envy

Shopper’s Diary: Lila B. Design at Stable Café in SF’s Mission District

February 20, 2014 7:30 PM

BY Michelle Slatalla

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When San Francisco floral designer Baylor Chapman, owner of Lila B. Design, decided to change locations in the downtown Mission District a few months ago, all she had to do was walk a few steps from her old studio on Folsom Street to a new one down the block. Yet she somehow managed to move a million miles away.

At the Stable Café©, where Chapman has set up shop (and an open-air studio) adjacent to the restaurant’s outdoor seating area, the courtyard is suddenly in bloom year round. That’s partially thanks to a miniature orchard of plum trees planted among the café© tables”and partially thanks to Chapman, who has planted a perimeter of container gardens and climbing vines to turn a gritty downtown location bucolic.

Photographs by Liesa Johannssen for Gardenista.

Above: From the street, you get a glimpse of the plum trees in bloom and a hint, from a window box, of the urban garden behind the fence.

Above: “It’s an experience to be in here,” says Stable Café© owner Thomas Lackey. At the rear of the café©’s outdoor seating area is a repurposed cargo container that Lackey had transported to the site from the Port of Oakland.

Above: Chapman uses the shipping container as office and retail space; from behind a counter, she sells terrariums, fresh flowers, and hanging planters.

Above: Terrariums for sale.

How does it compare to her old space? Check out Shopper’s Diary: Lila B. Design in San Francisco to decide for yourself.

Above: Chapman mounted metal trellises against the wall of an adjacent building to create a backdrop for instant container gardens.

The trellises, purchased from a Santa Barbara Nursery that was going out of business (“I had no idea at the time how I was going to use them,” says Chapman), originally had ground stakes. Baylor cut off the stakes and with Lackey’s help suspended the trellises from heavy duty metal wall hooks.

In front of the trellis a container garden is planted in a repurposed galvanized metal cattle trough. Chapman planted a mix of succulents”including aeonium and kalanchoe (with flowers tinged with pink)”and vines. A similar trough is available at Lowe’s, where a 6-foot Tarter Galvanized Steel Stock Tank is $154.99.

Above: Visible in the view from Chapman’s office above the Stable Café© is a tiered shelf of tiny succulents (for sale) that sits next to the wall trellis. The Stable Café© building was renovated by architect owner Malcolm Davis, who transformed the rundown edifice into a space to incubate small local businesses such as Chapman’s.

Above: Last year, the Stable Café©’s six Santa Rosa plum trees produced 175 pounds of fruit for jam (served in the restaurant).

Above: On the ground, a permeable surface: Lackey salvaged irregularly shaped pieces of concrete from a demolition site at 19th and Van Ness streets. He transformed the former pieces of city sidewalk into pavers, setting them in decomposed granite and pea gravel.

Above: “There’s a creek beneath this property ”the old Mission Creek” that now runs through a pipe, all the way from Mission Dolores to Mission Bay,” says Lackey. The path’s permeable surface is forgiving if water wells up from underground after a rainstorm.

Above: In a galvanized trough, Chapman planted a mix of grasses and succulents, including aeoniums such as the variegated ‘Sunburst’ and the deep purple ‘Voodoo.’ ”

Above: At the back of the courtyard is a covered space (and woodburning oven) where Chapman holds workshops and Lackey serves food at catered events. To sign up for upcoming floral design workshops, see Lila B. Design.

Nice work table; if you’re as impressed with it as I was, come back tomorrow for a post about how to design and build a similar one for your potting shed.

Above: We visited Chapman last week when the pre-Valentine’s Day rush was in full swing. On her agenda that day: creating bouquets and arrangements of tulips, poppies, roses, and ranunculus.

Above: Lila B. Design is at 2128 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA.

For more, see Architect Visit: Stable Café© in San Francisco.