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Northern Ca Palm Society Meeting , Ross, CA 4/23/17

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The Jackson Grant Garden

16 Brookwood Ln. , Ross

Story Behind the Garden

We bought the house, our starter, in 1980, moving from potted plants on a Russian Hill fire escape to a real garden. Palms were our favorites. We did test plantings for a few years as we worked out a planting plan. About that time we met Herb Weber and our knowledge of palm trees and the International Palm Society took a giant leap forward. The flood of January 1982 changed all plans. Bridge road was washed out and rebuilt, higher than before.

Our construction started in the mid 1980s with the glass house, concrete terraces and retaining wall on Bridge road. Then the house remodel with the entrance staircase and south steel and glass arbor. Then the driveway and the north brick wall and metal staircase. Finally, last year, the tree heaved brick in the enclosed courtyard was replaced. Each step took 3 to 4 years from concept to finish, with gaps to fund the next phase. Plantings were done as we went along.

While the hardscape, once built, stayed the same- the plants evolved. The biggest issue has been frost. We are on the north east side of Mt Tam. In winter, cold air slides down the slope and lands on us. Sometimes it brings torrential rain and sometimes deep frost. In summer the mountain protects us from the fog. What has evolved is not so much a collection of plants but a landscape with plants that are happy to be here, a bit cool, a bit damp. We wanted things to look like they just grew here, to be a place, a habitat, looking good year round, not just at the end of summer. We have tried “hardy” palms that aren’t so hardy, tree ferns that lasted a few years, succulents that rotted. What wasn’t killed by climate fell to loss of light as the survivors grew. If we lost a specific species, we moved on, trying to fit plant with microclimate. The glasshouse

changed as well. At first it had a dirt floor. Spider mite and other problems exploded. We paved the floor, added radiant heat and went potted.

So, the garden, after 37 years, looks like a place, as if it had always been here, with large tall palms, and rhododendrons, magnolias and bamboo. Even the Tasmanian tree ferns have trunk. It is beyond the pole saw stage. The large palms Pheonix, Jubea, Butia, Washintonia, Trachycarpus, Sabal, Guadalupe are the upper storey. The companion trees, magnolias and large rhododendrons were selected for large, tropical looking, leaves. The middle and lower storey have Rhaphis, Chamedorea microspadix, c, radicalis, c, metalica, bird of paradise and ligularia. In the sun, on the south end, the Chamerops has grown tall, while those planted in shade, stayed small, understorey. Bamboo stands in for the smooth trunked small tropical palms we can’t grow. The result is more a Himalayan foothill forest then a tropical one.

The sculpture collection is focused on the figure with works by Debora Butterfield, Steven de Stabler, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Viola Frey, Nicola Hicks, John Battenberg, Judy Fox, Steve Jensen, Robert Charland, Auguste Clesinger, Paul Porrett and Thomas Jackson.


Directions to 16 Brookwood Lane, Ross from Tom and Kathy

We are in Ross in southern Marin, between Kentfield and San Anselmo.

From highway 101, north or south bound, take the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, (SFD), exit headed west toward San Anselmo. SFD is four lane divided. At about 1.7 miles, (when passing College of Marin on the left, fire station on the right), SFD narrows to 3 lanes. Stay on it. At the second traffic light, (Marin Art and Garden center on the right side of SFD) turn left onto Lagonitas. Cross the small bridge and take the first left onto Ross Common. After one block, at the stop sign, turn right onto Redwood. Follow the curve and take the first right onto Brookwood. We are the last house on the right, on the corner with Bridge road.


Looking forward to seeing everyone on Sunday, April 23.


Meeting starts at 1 pm and will end at 5 pm. Please bring a potluck item for the potluck and consider bringing a palm donation for our palm auction.


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