The Portola neighborhood is often known for its history of growing flowers and as such gains the title of being the San Francisco garden neighborhood. So it comes as no surprise to learn there is an annual Portola Garden Tour. Ruth Wallace, a respected neighborhood citizen, has been in charge of exposing our most beautiful horticultural examples since 2007. She has just informed the planet of the details for this years tour.
Tickets will be available September 1st for $25 each or two for $40 at Sterling Bank, 2555 San Bruno Avenue, Fat Beli Deli, 2598 San Bruno Avenue, Portola Family Connections, 2565 San Bruno Avenue, Flora Grubb Gardens, 1634 Jerrold Avenue, and CCSF’s Environmental Horticulture and Floristry Department, 50 Phelan Avenue.
It’s a scrappy, hardworking neighborhood in San Francisco’s underserved southeastern quadrant with hidden gardens to share and a generous spirit. The Portola, San Francisco’s Garden District, is becoming a draw for families hoping to retain urban living in a relaxed setting. The Portola has the added wholesome appeal of growing one’s own food, having a yard big enough for the kids to play or for the dog to romp while enjoying the vistas of San Francisco, The Bay and the Pacific Ocean from a new angle.
The Portola Garden Tour began in 2007 as a fund raiser for the Portola Branch Library at Goettingen and Bacon Streets. When the library opened in 2009, the community decided to continue the popular event as a fund raiser and created The Portola Garden Scholarship at CCSF. The first scholarship was awarded in 2010 and has grown to two per year as well as paying work projects in The Portola to CCSF students. This year’s Portola Garden tour will be Saturday, September 29th and will feature 22 private and public gardens.
One of the most diverse neighborhoods in The City, with a representation of Maltese, Italian and Jewish families who immigrated in the late 19th century to African American shipbuilders from the south in the war years to Caucasian and Latino families buying homes with the GI Bill to an influx of Mainland Chinese to Filipino immigrants, LBGT families, and most recently Vietnamese, the neighborhood welcomes all. Once home to flower-growing enterprises and farms, the Portola is San Francisco’s Garden District. With its high level of homeownership, southern exposure, ethnic and sexual diversity and mix of old and new residents, the neighborhood is redefining itself. Roughly bordered by Silver Avenue to the north, Mansell Street to the south, San Bruno Avenue to the east and McLaren Park to the west, The Portola is one of the last undiscovered, affordable sections of San Francisco. Young families, as well as long-time San Franciscans, are finding it an attractive and convenient place to live. Many of the homes have large yards, by San Francisco standards, bay and city views, and nice weather. Added to those factors is the emerging green movement, heralded by The City and embraced in the southeastern quadrant. Long-time local resident and artist, Oscar Melara noted, “The garden tour has taken greening efforts from an individual level and turned into a community effort to keep things going and growing in The Portola.”
Ruth told the Planet there are over 20 wonderful and luscious gardens on show with several new additions. Some have even been featured in Sunset magazine as well as gaining airtime on HGTV. Ruth tells us her favorite part of the entire event is witnessing how much pride our fellow Portolans have. These gardens are not the results of outsourced landscape professionals but created out of the owners love for their own spaces. We agree and with around 200 tickets being sold each year it certainly is quite a popular local event. So get yourself a ticket and come and experience the superb sun in the Portola and the effects it has on our local gardens.