Magazine article Sunset

Ask Sunset

Magazine article Sunset

Ask Sunset

Article excerpt

HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT LIFE IN THE WEST? WE HAVE THE ANSWERS.

Q: We're renters who got permission to play around with our backyard. What's the best way to add some style to this small space? -THE KNÜPPELS, SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR KNÜPPELS Start by gathering display and planting ideas at a creative nursery such as Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco (floragrubb.com). Another nursery that can serve as a muse is Roger's Gardens in Corona del Mar, California (rogersgardens.com). Since you're renting, the best strategy for amping up your backyard's style is to invest in portable items you can take with you. For big impact fast, fill a trio of contemporary containers in various sizes with striking, easy-care shrubs or succulents, which thrive in the city's mild weather. Cover bare spots with gravel or bark chips. Then bring in a pair of stylish chairs such as the Bend chairs ($425; yliving.com) that have been featured in Sunset; they're pricey, but worth the investment if you plan to take them with you. Or go with less expensive alternatives: a Mälarö series cafe table and two chairs ($120/set; ikea.com).

Q: We live in Phoenix and are foodies who enjoy agritours. Any ideas in our region? -HOLLY AND EDWARD GORDON, PHOENIX

DEAR HOLLY AND EDWARD The Southwest has some terrific spots for agritourism (though the word "agritourism" needs an overhaul-"farm tasting," perhaps?). In New Mexico, we've long been partial to Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm (lospoblanos.com), a 25-acre farm north of Albuquerque that keeps bees and grows lavender, heirloom beets, Chimayó chiles, O'odham cowpeas, and many other crops. …

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