One of the less pleasant realizations of studying garden history is how much gardens have been the province of the wealthy few. Building a grand garden is like commissioning any ambitious artwork...affordable only by the very rich.
It was only with the rise of the middle class in the nineteenth century that gardening became a widely available pastime, that those of lesser means could beautify their environment and express their taste in the landscape. This can be easily traced by the explosion of garden magazines directed at the masses.
We can (and should) do better now, and I was thrilled to see this project, by Andrea Cochran Landscape architecture, for low income housing in San Francisco's infamous Tenderloin district.
Unusually for a construction of this type, it gives careful thought to the outdoor spaces, including vegetable plots for residents (in galvanized metal troughs high enough for disabled access), a generous courtyard, and a shallow, child-safe water feature.
Well-deserved winner of a 2007 American Society of Landscape Architects professional award. See more photos at the links.
When I was a little girl I frequently visited low-income housing projects with my mom, who took food and clothing to the children from her Sunday school classes. I remember well their decrepit, neglected landscapes, and I'm glad to see someone doing better.