Pseudonatural Freakshow

Pseudonatural Freakshow

Berkeley, CA

My garden began as an effort to develop my yard as habitat for birds and other winged life, shaped by the natural spaces I love to visit. Though originally stocked with many plants that provide food and nesting material for birds, it is being filled in more and more with the strange and fantastic plants that catch my eye. I’ve tried to make a garden that feels like Nature is—if not actually winning—at least making a good showing. The 5,000-square-foot back garden is the oldest part and is mostly multi-storied verge areas to appeal to birds. A creek on our northern border is part of a natural flyway for birds. Aesthetically, I pay attention to site lines and plant combinations, especially those with interesting foliage. I like to start with wide pathways and then allow the plants to encroach. My aesthetic is definitely naturalistic, but I make no effort to be geographically correct nor do I favor California natives for any reason other than their individual, inherent excellence. Our house is in an old frumpy warehouse where my wife does her artwork. So there is little relation between it and the garden and very little by way of views out to the garden from inside. Most everything in the garden was made by me from repurposed materials including an urbanite courtyard off our backdoor made from the concrete demo’d from a school basement where I taught during an earthquake retrofit. The redwood staves from an old water tower were used to make decking, fencing, and a smaller storage shed. More reclaimed materials went into building a forty-foot pergola over the front garden, more raised beds, and many sitting areas. Plants include succulents, bromeliads, begonias, roses, echiums, solanums, phormiums, fruit trees, passion vines (including an older Passiflora membranacea), a wide range of herbaceous and woody plants including many from the cloud forest like Telanthophora grandifolia, Salvia wagneriana, Abutilon tridens, Iochromas, agapetes, fuchsias, brugmansia, and Deppea splendens.

Directions: Walkable from the North Berkeley B.A.R.T. station. By car go east on University Avenue off of I-80 about 1 mile. Pass San Pablo Avenue and at the next traffic light, turn right onto Bonar Street. Go one and a half blocks, then look for our address over the door of the little warehouse in the middle of the block, on your left. Entrance will be through the driveway to the left of the building.

Open Days 2017: April 22
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission to this garden is $7. Don't forget to buy discounted admission tickets in advance. They never expire and can be used at most Open Days to make garden visiting easier.

  • New 2f41bc3dbc0fde770515d2030fc6561cd80051035879a6f5ef41cbb2a9d59670New garden or feature
  • This garden allows photography
  • Partial wheelchair access

Pseudonatural Freakshow
Berkeley, CA, 94702

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