There are unexpected splashes of green hidden at San Francisco International Airport

The Secret Gardens of SFO, Part 1
Photo by Johanna Silver

You know about the 2 yoga rooms and the Napa Farms Market in Terminal 2. You might even know that the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) doesn’t just feature cool art exhibits, it’s actually a fully accredited museum, employing its very own curator. But I’ll bet you didn’t know about the secret gardens. They’re inexplicably missing from SFO’s website.

Photo by Linda Lamb Peters
As part of an ongoing poll on how to improve employee life, SFO management got a suggestion: Make a place for workers to take a break and eat a meal outside. So in 2011, five parking spots were cleared to create The Garden Patio.

A gorgeous variegated agave. Photo by Linda Lamb Peters.

Led by the jovial Jimmy Brassil, the 15-person garden crew designed and installed a stunning garden—a model of drought-tolerant, architectural landscaping, featuring cactus, succulents, Australian shrubs, and California natives. This is a hidden gem if I’ve ever seen one.


Photo by Linda Lamb Peters
The project was a win-win for the airport: The gardeners got to show off their talents, and the employees now have a spot to hang.  

Stepping stones lead to a shady spot with potted tree ferns on fake grass (this small, shady spot is the only acceptable application of a fake lawn, in my opinion). Brassil looks forward to the day when the tree ferns form their own canopy. P…
This garden is open to the public 24/7! Exit the arrivals level of Terminal 1. and head left around the animal relief area. Bam. Garden.  

Photo by Linda Lamb Peters.
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