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Pacific Heights Mystery: A Hidden City Garden Reveals Its Secrets

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Pacific Heights Mystery: A Hidden City Garden Reveals Its Secrets

August 6, 2014

In San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood, Lutsko Associates designed a small, lush garden to be lived in at ground level–and to be viewed from above. The result? From the vantage of the house’s upper-floor terrace, it feels as if you’ve lifted the roof of a dollhouse to peer into its meticulously appointed miniature rooms:

Photographs courtesy Lutsko Associates and photographer Marion Brenner.

Above: The garden is divided into three distinct spaces separated by shrubbery and a translucent glass wall, making it feel much larger than its quarter-acre size would imply. The limestone flooring is punctuated by tracks of woolly thyme. Photograph via Contemporist.

Above: A city view, including San Francisco Bay and the downtown Transamerica building, is visible through a translucent window in a reeded glass panel wall. The neighbor’s balustrade can be seen through the lower half of the paneled wall.

Above: Closely clipped hedges of Prunus caroliniana (cherry laurel) grow along a framework of steel to divide the garden into separate rooms.

Above: A translucent glass wall provides privacy while simultaneously taking advantage of available sunlight.

Above: The color palette is limited to green, gray, and white throughout the garden to unify the three separate enclosed spaces. Plantings include the peppermint-scented Pelargonium tomentosum (L).

Above: Dark granite etched with a spiral pattern creates a mosaic effect.

Above: A fountain is set in a curving bronze wall.

Above: The fountain’s water collects in a basin cut into the floor.

Above: A lemon tree (L) grows up a plaster wall.

A typical city lot in San Francisco is 25 feet wide by 100 feet deep; for an atypical way to maximize the space, see A Jewel Box Townhouse Garden.

Wondering about what to do with a typical New York City lot (which is even smaller)? For another of our favorite city backyards, see Lush Life: A Townhouse Garden in Manhattan.

Updated from a post originally published August 7th, 2013.

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