Best Empty Lot Conversion 

Garden Hortica

Plenty of folks have ingenious ideas for reclaiming abandoned urban lots. But few actually see those ideas through, and even fewer end up turning a blighted, trash-strewn sight into a viable business. That's exactly what Garden Hortica did with its small, wedge-shaped lot at the corner of Castro and 7th streets just outside downtown Oakland. Formerly a bare, forgotten plot near Highway 980 (check Google Maps for evidence), 668 7th Street is now a paean to water-wise garden design. The nursery specializes in cacti, succulents, natives, and drought-tolerant plants from around the world. You'll find a nice array of all types arranged on-site as a virtual art installation: Garden Hortica's eye is geared as much toward proper plant choice as it is toward ideal placement. The meeting of the two makes for horticultural magic: At the 2011 San Francisco Flower and Garden Show, the company's booth beat out two hundred other exhibitors to win an award for outstanding visual presentation.

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)


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