Sunset Magazine: Hillside Yard Family Garden

"A young family’s hillside yard becomes their go-to snack bar.

Kids who run toward their veggies? It’s a parent’s dream. And it’s a reality in the San Anselmo, California, backyard of photographer Rachel Weill and her husband, David Levitt. When their sons Daniel, 11, and Joshua, 7, get home from school, they head straight outside to pick tender cucumbers, beans, lettuces, and carrots. “They constantly bring in food at random times, wanting to make a salad,” Weill says. “And when they have friends over, they like to show off the garden.”

Formerly a dry, rocky corner of the yard occupied by a couple of gnarled grapevines, the garden got its structure thanks to four raised beds built into the hillside. To fill the boxes, Weill looked to landscape designer Leslie Bennett (, who came up with a plan in which trellised cucumbers shade speckled red lettuces, variegated ‘Alaska’ nasturtium trails out of the boxes, and feathery tops of carrots and fennel contrast with the wide leaves of summer squash. Bennett’s approach is to design gardens that are so beautiful, they don’t have to be hidden away.

“All those different colors as well as textures and herbs make your garden look interesting, ” says the designer, who managed to fit 40 different crops into the family’s roughly 8- by 8-foot plot. “But they also make your dinner look interesting.”

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