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In just 425 square feet, a shady green retreat.

In just 425 square feet, a shady green retreat

A refuge from the rush of everyday life: that's what landscape designer Josephine Zeitlin created in this 17- by 25-foot back garden in San Francisco. Entered from the owner's home office, the garden is a sanctuary where homeowner, clients, and guests can read, work, or contemplate nature. "Some neighbors drop in just to sit for a few moments,' says the owner. Two sun decks already jutted from the upper levels of the house, so there was no need for a sunny patio. "We really wanted to enhance the feeling of privacy and make the garden a retreat,' says Zeitlin. To that end, she kept the existing trees--a poplar and two pittosporums, which form a canopy one story above the ground-- and planned the new garden around them. Under their limbs, she created a shade garden with plantings you might find on a forest floor.

From the house, French doors open toward the west onto the shorter leg of an L-shaped deck. Here, clusters of plants in containers direct garden visitors toward the L's longer leg--a 5- by 14-foot redwood platform enclosed on two sides with lattice screens.

This roofed sitting area has just enough room for a slat-backed bench and a variety of planters, turning the little platform into a front-row seat for garden-watching. From the corner of the L, five successively longer wooden steps angle down into the garden proper.

Containers filled year-round with ferns, mimulus, astilbe, and clivia sit at the edges of the steps, forming tiers of greenery that lead the eye to similar plantings along a path of redwood rounds on the garden floor. To keep plantings moist, misters attached to the lath walls and to the poplar tree run on a time clock. Basic watering is done by a drip system attached to the same clock.

Zeitlin created a Japanese feeling by using just a few contrasting elements to carry out her design. Opposite the sitting platform, the old brick wall--with its cracks, wavy grout lines, and soft ruddy colors--forms a simple backdrop for lush greenery and stark tree trunks.

A fountain shaped from driftwood also contrasts with the brick and recalls trickling waterfalls found on the floor of a rain forest. From the fountain, a dry stream of black and white stones seems to flow back toward the covered deck.

Photo: Like a glade in an enchanted forest, small garden behind multistory city house contrasts with workaday world. Shade-tolerant plants frame a driftwood fountain

Photo: Angled steps lined with mimulus and astilbe extend from lath-walled corner of sitting deck down into garden
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Oct 1, 1987
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