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If you’re like me, you’d rather visit a postage-stamp sized garden with really cool plants and art over a meticulously coiffed estate garden any day. What I seek in a garden is unusual plants (or usual plants used in an unusual way), art, a sense of humor, wonder and personality… and a healthy dose of disorder. Uh-oh… did I just describe myself? Don’t answer that.

As for art, I’m not referring to the fancy schmancy repro greco-blecho kind. Don’t get me wrong… estate gardens are attractive and impressive in all their grandiosity… they just don’t float my boat. They impress too easily. They buy your affections.

I happen to be more impressed by a garden’s ingenuity and daring rather than its financial means. I want to see what kind of garden you can make from a hand-hewn sculpture piece or a broken dish or a piece of scavenged driftwood. And plants. Plants from friends, plants rescued from the sale table at Target, plants you splurged on at Annie’s Annuals. Plants you actually planted.

Two garden artists whose work I admire are Keeyla Meadows and Marcia Donahue. Both are East Bay artists. I will probably never be in a position to buy one of Keeyla’s gazillion-dollar sculptures, but maybe a pot… someday. And a bench. And a little table.

A lot of really inspirational garden artists and nurseries call the East Bay home– Keeyla, Marcia, Berkeley Hort, Annie’s Annuals, The Dry Garden, Planet Horticulture and more. Perhaps it’s the mild and mellow climate that nurtures this brand of horticulture. Whatever it is, I love it. I aspire to it. I am inspired by it.

The following books help to illustrate my kind of garden:

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