Edible Landscaping, French Laundry and Heirlooms

Someone recently asked me what it is that I do when I'm not gardening, writing or traveling for lectures. I answered I visit other people's gardens and enjoy the food from them. Out of all my trips this year so far, this is the first one where I've had free time that didn't involve speaking or selling. What did I do? Visit more gardens, of course! Here's a sampling of time in and around San Francisco, with more details coming later.
The sign for the restaurant is so understated and hidden in the bushes, it's hard to see.

I've always wanted to visit the world famous French Laundry restaurant and today accomplished that. Restaurants like this one, as well as Chez Panise (owned by Alice Waters, one of the speakers at the National Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa where I'm also speaking this week) and the very famous Herbfarm Restaurant outside Seattle, have been early pioneers in the trend for restaurants having their own gardens. I've written several times about The Herbfarm Restaurant, owned by our friends Ron Zimmerman and Carry Van Dyck and their remarkable herb gardens and food. Here's a taste of the gardens at the French Laundry.
Tucker's a talented and creative horticulturist.

Meet the head horticulturist, Tucker Taylor, who is responsible for this bountiful garden. Tucker told us the gardens furnish all of the produce for not only the French Laundry but the 2 other restaurants they own in Yountsville, CA. While the garden isn't certified organic, they use organic methods for the lowest impact on the location. I was pleased to see the French Laundry has chickens, although our little flock of 60 birds back home don't have fancy digs like these.
The chickens have their own garden, umbrella, yard and house. Pretty cool.

But it's the gardens that are impressive, so here are a few pics of those and of their massive compost pile. I was glad to see how well they make and use their compost from the leftovers from the garden.

Tucker and his crew grow a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers specifically for the restaurant.

One tiny corner of the garden, with the French Laundry restaurant across the street.

This year's compost pile, which will become next year's soil.
Another restaurant garden was at Oakville Vineyard, where we had brunch. Their extensive gardens provide the food for their restaurant chefs and for the many visitors who come on tours and meals.
Oakville's gardens are for both production and for easy access by the chefs and staff on a daily basis.
We spent the evening with our author and friend, Rosalind Creasy who took us to Palo Alto where we visited Stanford University, and the Facebook headquarters. I asked Ros to pose with her best-selling book, Edible Landscaping.
We had a wonderful evening in her garden and enjoyed dinner from her backyard, as well.
Palo Alto is the home of Facebook. They, too, have a very understated, modest sign.
If you haven't read her book, you should. She is also one of the early pioneers in the current whole foods, healthy eating movement. More about her gardens later and more gardens and stories from California. Happy gardening!


Gabrielle said...

Thanks for this inspiring blog! What a nice area for the chickens in the French Laundry gardens!

Avis Licht said...

Hi Jim, I went to the Heirloom Expo this week and was amazed to see how many people are interested in gardening and Heirlooms now. I'm sorry to have missed your talk. I studied with Alan Chadwick for two years, over 35 years ago and have been gardening ever since. I started the Commonweal Garden in Bolinas many years ago as a teaching garden and have since gone on to do landscape design. I have been doing Edible Landscaping for all those years. Like you, I love to garden and to EAT what I grow. I also love to live in a beautiful garden, so the two go hand in hand. I look forward to reading your books and blog. When you have time, perhaps you can stop by and peek at my blog. People always ask me questions about their garden, so I thought I'd try my hand at writing a blog and sharing 40 years of hands on experience. My site is www.EdibleLandscapingMadeEasy.com.
To see my landscape design work, please visit my website at www.SweetbriarLandscapeDesign.com.