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Garden Travel

A Thomas Church Garden: Fay Park

Fay Park Gazebo – Cotoneaster lacteus

Walk down toward North Beach, just beyond the city’s ‘crooked’ landmark street – where Lombard twists & turns to the delight of photo-snapping tourists – and you’ll find Fay Park tucked away at Leavenworth and Chestnut Streets, adjacent to a spacious Edwardian home on the corner. Mrs. Mary Fay Berrigan bequeathed this historic property — the house and its rare attached garden, to the City of San Francisco.

Renowned American landscape architect, Thomas Church designed the garden for Mrs. Berrigan in 1957. A San Francisco resident, Church lived nearby for more than 4 decades, until he passed away in 1978. Fay Park is now thought to be the only residential garden designed by Thomas Dolliver Church that is open to the public. (I invite readers to contact me if they know of any other Church garden that may have a similar history.)

Fay Park Gazebo 

The park’s twin gazebos represent a design element closely associated with Church’s landscape projects.

Fay Park – Thomas Church Design   

From the park’s Russian Hill locale, you can look beyond to take in views of the San Francisco Bay.

Opened to the public in 2006, the park has been restored by city’s Parks and Recreation Department, and is now ADA accessible. The Friends of Fay Park include volunteers who work with the city to lavish care on the rose beds, lawns and topiary; reflected in the meticulous maintenance of this gem of a space.

The berries of mature cotoneasters provide a colorful winter backdrop at the perimeter of the upper terrace.

To learn about Church’s work, read Marc Treib’s book: Thomas Church, Landscape Architect: Designing A Modern California Landscape

The park’s harmonious layout creates a peaceful oasis, where the hardscape allies with the living structure of greenery – clipped boxwood outlining planting beds and postage-stamp size lawns. The active linear forms of deciduous trees and roses serve to play off the simple yet eye-catching white gazebos, balustrade, and stair railing.

The Upper Terrace Walkway: Stairs lead to the lower level and a gateway to the street.

Terraced Rose Beds .. A Winter View

Note: As of March 2019, the San Francisco Rec & Parks Web Site lists open hours as 5am – Midnight

For More Info:

Below: Streetside view of the fence and gate; alongside tidy rose beds, lower lawn with sun dial, and bench.

Fay Park Terraced Rose Beds © Alice Joyce

Historic Gardens

9/11 Memorial NYC: A Photo Essay

The 9/11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan … NYC

9/11 Memorial © Alice Joyce

… on the site where the World Trade Center Twin Towers once rose skyward.

Two vast pools now occupy the footprints of the two buildings.

NYC 9/11 Memorial © Alice Joyce

Architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker designed the memorial…

9/11 Memorial Detail © Alice Joyce

to incorporate thirty-foot waterfalls, cascading into pools that culminate in a central void.

9/11 Memorial Center Void © Alice Joyce

Bronze parapets outline the uppermost ledge of each pool. Here, inscriptions of the victims’ names can be seen.

9/11 Memorial Inscriptions © Alice Joyce

The reflection of One World Trade Center heightens the impact of the new Museum Pavilion’s glass facade.

Memorial Museum Reflection © Alice Joyce

 One World Trade Center ~ the tallest building in the United States.

Los Angeles

Getty Museum Gardens

Getty Museum Gardens  © Alice Joyce

I visited the larger-than-life Getty Center soon after it opened in 1997, and was allowed to wander through the gardens before the campus opened for the day. It was a wonderful chance to study the design and appreciate the details. I’ve often returned to spend time touring the 110-acre hillside setting, set off by sparkling Roman travertine buildings which include the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Getty Gardens Waterfall © Alice Joyce

Many of the gardening world’s cognescenti were first drawn to visit and critique the controversial Central Garden, designed by artist Robert Irwin. On a recent L.A. foray to experience the garden in Autumn, I enjoyed the scent of roses, colorful Brugmansia & Tibouchina amid colorful stems and branches of deciduous Cornus cultivars, massed bright orange succulents, and dense plantings of society garlic embraced by clipped boxwood hedges.

 © Alice Joyce

Getty Garden Maze  © Alice Joyce

Irwin’s garden scheme is composed of a tree-lined walkway, streambed strewn with boulders, plaza and cascading waterfall, and a reflecting pool featuring a maze laid out with azaleas. Soaring, sculptural splayed constructions are fabricated of industrial rebar and festooned in bougainvillea. These volumetric steel bowers provide a spot to stop, rest, and take in the scenery.

Getty Plaza Pool © Alice Joyce

Water features are highlights of the Getty campus, bringing a lively energy to the gardens, and a refreshing ambiance to the main plaza that adds to an overall inviting atmosphere.

Getty Plaza Fountain © Alice Joyce

Robert Irwin’s Central Garden plan echoes a natural ravine in the existing topography, and features a rocky watercourse and ravine.

Getty Center Ravine Autumn © Alice Joyce

Tibouchina  © Alice Joyce

A favorite area I continue be drawn toward at the Getty represents the work of Olin Partnership, Landscape Architects. Their design of the Getty Museum’s Cactus Promontory presents an intriguing desert landscape, with the Los Angeles skyline providing a dramatic backdrop in the distance.

Getty Promontory  © Alice Joyce

The Getty Villa – Malibu …. on Alice’s Garden Travel Buzz