Making waves in the Wave Garden

The Wave Garden in Richmond Point, California, overlooking San Francisco Bay.

Is it essential for a garden, a serious garden, to always start with a plan? And if we don’t have a plan, should we say, “Oh well, nothing’s written in stone”?

In June 2013, I visited a garden that began with no real plan: the Wave Garden in Richmond Point, California. Despite the fact that it grew organically, it was written in stone – in concrete paths and walls, stairs and planter beds. Here’s designer and concrete artist Victor Amador on how it all began:

I was asked to build a small path through a very raw garden, that path led
to another path then to a wall and so on and so on. In the end there
were over 800 linial feet of textured walls and walks.

That’s from Amador’s description on GardenVisit. Read longer write-ups about the garden and its creation here or here on The planting design was by Kellee Adams of Dig It Landscape Design, and the amazing iron railings were by blacksmith Robert Sharpe.

It’s no surprise that the landing pages of both those contributors feature images from the Wave Garden. This garden is special – maybe because it’s an art piece; more gut and heart than logic and planning. I think it gives us permission to throw ourselves into the task; to go ahead and make waves.

The podium and path for the tail of the whale sculpture were the first elements in the garden
Lush plantings suitable for this Mediterranean climate include big swathes of Leucadendron
You’d be challenged to find a straight line in the Wave Garden. The terraced site flows with staircases, and all the concrete is stained this lovely peachy-ochre, and stamped with a slate pattern.
This, I believe, is the section of the railing called the whirlpool.
I should have pulled back a little on this shot to show the two staircases, side by side. The one on the left side is cropped out. Perhaps foolishly, I usually try to avoid having people in my garden photos – and there were a lot of us in the garden. This is one of many photos I wish I could go back and retake. Still, isn’t this nexus of flowing pathways intriguing?
Another vignette; another sculpture, backed by architectural plants, and with a glimpse of bay and mountains.
One of many charming details: the corner of a garden bed, like the prow of a ship, slices through another wall, making waves in the concrete. I don’t know how he managed this fluidity. Impressive.

As I write, the windchill is a shivery -15˚C (5˚F). So I’m happy to have returned in memory to that hot, June day – and grateful to the organizers of the San Francisco Fling for letting us share it.


  1. Hi Helen! One of the cool things about the Fling … soo many garden lovers, with their cameras! The concrete prow slicing thru the water was one I missed … think I was taking a stroll for myself and looking out at the bay! 🙂

You might also like