Inspired Garden: Colette & Daniel

Inspired Garden: Colette & Daniel

Benicia, CA

Inspiration

Our “Der Biergarten,” German for “The Beer Garden,” is aptly named for its use as a space for gatherings with family and friends. The name is somewhat an homage to Daniel’s Omi (a German term of affection for grandmother) who was from Munich, Germany. The garden design inspiration mostly came from French formal and free form gardens, inspired by Colette’s travels through France. The group from Sustainable Solano greatly helped with the inspiration and layout of the design by providing layout and plant suggestions that focused on companion planting, meaning plants that work well being planted together as well as bee attractants, an extremely important factor for pollination.

Sustainable Solano’s 2020 Land & Water Caretakers class met with Colette and Daniel for their final design project to offer suggestions for the garden. The process involved meeting with the Colette and Daniel, researching and drawing up plans and presenting the design elements. Below is a slideshow from that project.

2020 Caretakers Design Project

Action Taken

On the side of the house we created a potager, also known as a French kitchen garden. The potager only consists of plants that are edible, such as herbs, lamb’s ear (which has a combination taste of pineapple and apples and can be used in salads or as a medicinal herb), cherry tomatoes, a blueberry bush, peppers, passion fruit, chard and more. The idea behind the potager was to create a space that one could walk through and eat straight from the plant, find garnishes for food or even cocktails! 

Next to the potager we created a vegetable garden. This garden consists of root vegetables, such as beets and carrots, as well as other vegetables like tomatoes (brandywine, pineapple and purple russian), zucchini, yellow squash and pumpkins. Behind the pumpkins we have acorn squash, a raspberry bush and volunteer cherry tomatoes. Eventually we want this section of the garden to emulate a French formal garden and plan to create stone raised beds that are waist high as well as a matching formal pond.

Following the same path from the vegetable garden, the landscape turns into a space that was inspired by a free form French flower garden. We wanted this space to feel wild with flowers and to be able to use it as a cut flower garden. So far, we have morning glory, hydrangeas, hollyhocks, alyssum and lavender, with a fig tree tucked behind that was planted by the previous house owner.

The entire garden is on a drip system and is covered in wood chips. The wood chips help the efficiency of water use and mulches the soil. We’ve found that the wood chips have greatly improved the soil and growth of the plants.

We tried to use as many recycled materials as possible. The pavers used as pathways are mostly ones we already owned from our last home, the wood chips are from a tree company (many tree companies will deliver loads for free), and we found the bricks on Facebook Marketplace for free.

Since the vegetable garden is seasonal, we are taking advice from the team at Sustainable Solano in planting clover and beans in the winter to help the soil nutrition.

In the front yard we tried to incorporate as many drought tolerant plants as possible, since we couldn’t easily run a drip line to the plants on the other side of the sidewalk. So far with the help of the mulch, the plants have needed very little water and are growing rapidly.

Most of the garden was started from seed. We started planting in March 2020 and have since seen it flourish. Thank you to the group from Sustainable Solano for the education, resources and inspiration to create Der Biergarten!

Inspired Garden Slideshow

Inspired Garden: Colette & Daniel

Inspired by this garden? Tell us about your own garden inspired by sustainable landscaping, rainwater capture, edible gardens, pollinator plants, habitat and more at info@sustainablesolano.org 

Giardino su una Colina (Garden on a Hill)

Giardino su una Colina (Garden on a Hill)

Food Forest Keepers: Annina and Dean

Coming Soon

Site Details

Installation Date:

February 2020

Size:

1,900 square feet

Sun Exposure:

6-8 hours

Soil:

Clay

Number of Swales:

2

Secondary Water:

Rainwater

Roof water diverted to swales

Total annual water impact:

96,377 gallons

Design:

Designer: Shawn Carter and Maleik Dion / Resilient Solutionaries

 

Plant List:

 

Kadota Fig, Meyer Lemon

Dark Star Ceanothus, Coffeeberry, Blueberry; Artichoke; Feverfew; Rosemary; Lavender; Native Elderberry

Salvia apiana; Monardella villosa; Strawberries; Chicory; Chamomile; Borage; Thyme; Alyssum; Artemesia vulagre (mugwart); Muhlenbergia rigens; Dill; Echinacea; Yarrow; White Clover

Installation:

Coming Soon

Vision for the Future:

Coming Soon

Giardino su una Colina Slideshow

2020 Liberty High Caretakers

Wild Cherry Way

Wild Cherry Way

Food Forest Keeper: Suzanne

For most of my childhood, my family lived in an apartment building in Chicago. I spent a lot of time looking out at the world from my bedroom window on the 20th floor. Despite that distance between me and the earth, I always had a great love of being in nature and a strong personal connection with the elements and creatures of the world. I especially loved spending time alone outside, observing and learning.

My formal study of plants and garden design began in San Francisco when I was in my 40s and discovered an organization called S.L.U.G. (San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners). They distributed compost containers, promoted community gardens and provided training on how to make compost.

After volunteering as a community composter for about six months, I signed up for their Green Gardener training program. By the time that ended, I was on fire for gardening! I wanted to learn more, so I continued my studies at San Francisco City College. I studied horticulture, native plants and ecology. Eventually, I changed careers and started working at a plant nursery. Later, I worked for some small landscaping design companies, while continuing my studies in horticulture and landscape design at Merritt College. I also had my own small maintenance business
in the East Bay for several years.

When I moved to Benicia a few years ago, I was excited to see that one of my neighbors had posted a sign that said her garden was a permaculture garden created by Sustainable Solano. I was very happy to find that I was living among like-minded people. Last year, after I went on the Sustainable Solano garden tour, I decided to apply for the opportunity to have a well-designed permaculture garden at my house
too.

Site Details

Installation Date:

February 2020

Size:

1,922 square feet

Sun Exposure:

8 hours

Soil:

Clay

Number of Swales:

1

Secondary Water:

Laundry-to-Landscape Greywater System

Rainwater

Roof water diverted to swales

Total annual water impact:

32,944 gallons

Design:

Designer: Lauren Bennett

 

Plant List:

 

Fuyu Persimmon, Oro Blanco Grapefruit, Peach

Baker’s Manzanita, Blueberry (Sharp Blue, Jubilee, Reveille), California Lilac (Dark Star), Cleveland Sage, Coffeeberry, Lavender, Mexican Marigold, Rose, Rosemary, White Sage

Alyssum, Borage, California Buckwheat, California Poppy, Comfrey, Coyote Mint, Deargrass, Mugwort, Narrow Leaf Milkweed, Oregano, Plumbago, Purple Coneflower, Showy Milkweed, Thyme, Tree Collard

Chamomile, Strawberry

Garlic

Passionflower, Roger’s Red Grape

Installation:

Over a period of two months, on Saturdays, my yard was transformed. Sometimes, there were a dozen people at my house and on three Saturdays, there were more than 30 people! We completed three different phases of the work over that time.

At first, I met with a small group of students and a permaculture garden designer to discuss my vision and my wants for the garden. Once the design and plant list were complete, we invited a large group of interested volunteers to join in to dig swales, move plants, sheet mulch and put down compost. On one Saturday, we had a group of volunteers who learned how to install a laundry-to-landscape irrigation system. At the beginning of each large group session, there was a presentation about the philosophy and the science of the work that would be done that day.

When hearing about the plan for the two-month installation process, I was a little apprehensive. Since I’m a bit of a hermit, I wondered what it would be like to have so many people at my house. It turned out to be a wonderful experience! The people who came to the trainings all shared an interest in sustainable living. And, even though some people were experienced gardeners, while others were beginners, we found we had a lot in common. We had great conversations together, shared our knowledge, and made decisions together about many of the aspects of the installation.

It was a fun, energizing and educational experience. The public days, when there were 30 people working together, felt something like an old-fashioned barn raising. There was so much enthusiasm and comraderie, as we shared food and jokes and lots of hard work.

Vision for the Future:

My house is 160 years old. It’s one of the oldest houses in Benicia. When it was first built, it was a dairy farm and there are remnants of the cows’ stalls in the basement. Since it’s on the historical register, development of the property is limited, so the house and land have remained unchanged in many ways. Knowing about the house’s history has given me a strong sense of place. I recognize the privilege I have of being one of the guardians of this land.

When I moved to Benicia, it was with the intention of creating a sanctuary for myself and for the creatures that live on and around my property. I wanted to preserve a feeling of wildness in my yard. My goal was to make a safe, reliable resting place that would provide lots of opportunities to find food, water and habitat. I planted mostly low-water, low-maintenance plants, including many pollinator attractors and medicinal herbs. Eventually, I plan to invite small groups of children to my garden for fun and education.

Although parts of my garden were already well-established, the installation by Sustainable Solano took things to another level. My new garden has many complex layers of life. Before we started planting, the weeds were suppressed with cardboard and the soil was nourished with a thick layer of compost. We dug a deep swale to capture and store water underground. Many beautiful food-producing plants were added. Each new fruit tree was planted with a guild of supportive plants surrounding it, and I now have three sources of water: from the rooftop, from the laundry and from the irrigation valve.

A large area of my garden is shaded by a huge, old, wild cherry tree. Its branches droop so low that you can touch them when you walk by. The feeling of being sheltered and protected by the tree makes me think of it as the mother of my garden. The wild cherry supports so much life: squirrels, scrub jays, ravens, mourning doves, robins, bumblebees, hummingbirds and more all find food and shelter in its branches.

My wish is that my garden will become as nurturing as my cherry tree is by supporting an abundance of life, by providing shelter and food, and by offering beauty and peace to all those who visit.

Wild Cherry Way Slideshow

Wild Cherry Way