When Randi and Steve Herman moved into their home on Vassar Street 25 years ago, they had taken a chance with marriage and set out to create a garden that would make them smile when they came home. In front of the home are two large, bright yellow V’s, salvaged from a San Francisco theater.They meant nothing until they meant something, an homage to Vassar Street.
Looking down the uphill side of the house, you see first a seating area made with original 1936 pavers from the garden as seats and an Indonesian rice-pounding table.
Further down towards the front door are several fantastical Keeyla Meadows sculptures – a lion, a lion-tamer, and a mediator.
The main event is on the downhill, heading-to-Kensington side of the house.
A giant, truly giant, wolf stands under exotic plantings, traffic cones for teeth, flashing red lights for eyes, mail boxes for feet.
Sebastopol “junk artist” Patrick Amiot made the wolf, as well as the little droopy dog mailbox further down the hill. The steel railing leading down the path towards the mailbox and house gate came from Lmno Arts in Aptos.
In the back garden, Randi Herman’s gardening prowess is front and center.
The plantings are accented by more Keeyla Meadows sculpture.
In one section of the garden, there is a nod to Alice and Wonderland. A tea pot and clock:
And the locked doors in the hall trapping Alice:
The V’s, the Keeyla Meadows pieces, and especially the giant wolf and little dog are quirky, all set in creative and exotic planting. The Hermans did what they set out to do. The garden they built to make them smile when they got home also makes us smile when we walk by.
Tom Dalzell, a labor lawyer, created a website, Quirky Berkeley, to share all the whimsical objects he has captured with his iPhone. The site now has more than 8,600 photographs of quirky objects around town as well as posts where the 30-year resident muses on what it all means.