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Nextdoor and the Mission Terrace Garden Tour

March 23, 2018

I downloaded Nextdoor about a year ago, curious after having heard a story from my coworker about how in Russian Hill it was helping her feel connected to her neighbors.

I opened and scrolled through the feed, and noticed a posting advertising the first annual “Mission Terrace Garden Tour.” It promised “urban homesteads, drought-tolerant landscapes, glass-filled pathways, labyrinths, succulents, and blooms galore. Something for everyone,” they said. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon, and we went.

The walk was an opening of houses to showcase gardens. In Mission Terrace, where we live, there are stretches of awesome, entire-block-long backyards. At the first house we walked to, a 2-story right off Balboa Park, a woman sat in a lawn chair inside the garage handing out cookies. Simone was obviously smitten, as a 2-year-old gets when given cookies.

She pointed us back through, and we walked through their very normal garage full of boxes and art and old furniture into a backyard that stretched back at least 300 feet. The owner greeted us. A sizable greenhouse sat in the back, and to the side, a long section for composting. Row by row of gorgeous and slightly wild plants passed us by as we toured. The owner told us about the special worms used for composting, and offered to give us some, anytime.

We took a peek inside the greenhouse. A little Buddhist statue sat atop a large fan blowing hot air. The owner remarked that the greenhouse was most beautiful on a rainy day, sitting inside the warm hut with a joint listening to the pounding rain.

The next house, and the next house, and the house after that – they were all a blur. Genuinely nice people offered us strawberries, geeked out with us over landscaping and offered us wine. Simone tragically poked her hand into someone’s cactus and screamed while the homeowners rushed to get tweezers and snacks to distract her (we pulled out the spine, all was well). We kept on with our journey, and visited one woman who had recently transformed her backyard into an oasis complete with glass pebble walkway, multiple fountains and a breezy art studio. She handed me a glass and proclaimed, “Welcome! It’s rosé day!” As we left, others entered. More rosé.

As we were making our way back home (4 or so blocks), we passed a house that butted up against an easement. There are many of these easements in Mission Terrace; they’re an easy access point for PG&E from behind the house, so there are these barren trails behind the houses between blocks. As we chatted with the homeowner, he told us about a dinner that happens every year in September, the Alley Pasta Dinner. But that’s a story for another time.


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