Nash Garden

The Castro

The checkerboard pattern on the garage door plays off the shape of the creeping mint-filled pavers. Next to the front door is bougainvillea under planted with Senecio vitalis ‘Serpents’ and aeonium in bloom. Photo: Marion Brenner

The checkerboard pattern on the garage door plays off the shape of the creeping mint-filled pavers. Next to the front door is bougainvillea under planted with Senecio vitalis ‘Serpents’ and aeonium in bloom. Photo: Marion Brenner

This garden on the top of a windy hill is actually a fully functioning driveway that is used on a daily basis. The transformation from driveway to garden was a collaborative effort between designer Dan Carlson of Wiggglestem Gardens and his client, Madeleine Nash, who researched different varieties of succulents and thyme and helped to set the overall aesthetic tone of the garden. The mosaic pattern of the permeable driveway filled with creeping mint plays off the center strip of thyme, sempervivum, and echeveria.

Different varieties of creeping thyme form a dense mat, highlighted with sempervivums, Echeveria derosa (left) and Echeveria elegans (center). Photo: Marion Brenner

Different varieties of creeping thyme form a dense mat, highlighted with sempervivums, Echeveria derosa (left) and Echeveria elegans (center). Photo: Marion Brenner

“I wanted to get low, to have the whole show right on the ground,” says Carlson. Although the plant palette is limited, there is plenty of seasonal interest, with an intense carpet of rich purple color in spring that fades in summer to a purplish brown. Fall and winter show off the intricate tapestry of green and gray. Carlson used several different thymes, including slow-growing wooly thyme, lime thyme, and creeping thyme, and intermingled miniature gray-purple sedum to achieve his effect. The accent plantings along each side are strips of silver Dymondia margaretae, a South African drought-tolerant ground cover. Although sometimes a few inflorescent spikes of the echeveria get nipped by a car pulling in, overall, nothing is taller than six inches and the garden is surprisingly resilient.


Private Gardens of the Bay Area by Nancy Berner & Susan LowryExcerpted from Private Gardens of the Bay Area © Copyright 2017 by Susan Lowry and Nancy Berner, Photos by Marion Brenner. Published by The Monacelli Press. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.