Top Five Places to Plant Yourself (for lunch)

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As much as I enjoy working at Marin Art & Garden Center, one of the things I’ve missed the most while we’ve been sheltering in place are my lunch breaks. Can you blame me, when I get to sit outside surrounded by beautiful gardens while I eat my lunch and read a book? We know everyone loves to spread a blanket on the lawns for a picnic, but to protect the grass and maintain social distancing, we are now asking visitors to find other ways to dine al fresco. Over the years I’ve been working here, I’ve become quite the expert on the best places to sit and eat around the grounds, so let me take you on a tour of some options.

1. Memory Garden. This is a year-round winner, because there are three very comfortable benches and one of them is almost always in the sun or shade, so you’re set whether you’re looking to warm up or cool off. It’s enough out of the way that you’ll be left undisturbed, and you have an excellent vantage point above the rest of the grounds. This little alcove has been under the care of the Marin Garden Club for decades, and features a statue by Adeline Kent to keep you company.

2. Stratford Gardens. I like this spot best in the summer, where you can perch on the retaining wall that is well shaded and low enough to the ground for short people like me to sit comfortably. There are also benches around several of the trees that are a little higher. I love the view of the planted bed that screens off the gardens from the rest of the grounds, it’s particularly lush this year.

3. The Gazebo. You can’t picnic on the grass but this is the next best thing. You never have to worry about too much sun and there’s a nice solid bench with a sweeping(ish) vista of the lawn and the triangle bed. You can even imagine you’re one of the bands playing at our Summer Concert series—next year, music lovers!

4. Under the English Oak. You are almost guaranteed a cool spot on the bench under this ancient tree whose spreading branches create an enchanted mossy microclimate. The benches are on the low side, helpful if you’re here with kids, and you can read the names of donors along the brick path if you forgot to bring your book.

5. Magnolia Circle stone wall. My cool-weather afternoon favorite, because if you sit facing the Magnolia, the sun hits your back and is warming without glare. Of course if you sit facing the path you’re in an ideal people-watching situation, and when I’m keeping an eye out for visitors coming to the office, I have a direct view of oncoming traffic.

More to explore