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.

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