In the outdoor yard of Bay Maples Wild California Gardens, surrounded by buckets, hoses, wheelbarrows, wood, and various plants, guests gathered on a July afternoon for the latest installment of the CONTENT LAB series, “Wood + Water.”
As they arrived, guests were invited to stop by the bar, located in a shed of gardening supplies and plants, after which they mingled and drifted around the site while listening to the upbeat music of DJ Malcolm Lee of BAMN Squad. Bronze sculptures of elegant and spritely forms by Nicola Stela lined portions of the perimeter. Overlooking the proceedings was Bay Maples’ vibrant mural featuring a highway overpass sprouting with jade green plants, an azure city skyline, and peach clouds.
The prologue coming to a close, the guests took their seats at butcher-paper wrapped tables shaded by white umbrellas, and host Daniel Garcia took the mic to kick off the program. Bay Maples founder Alan Hackler stepped up next to talk about the benefits of graywater, which is the mostly clean wastewater from laundry, showers, and sinks. Daniel and the audience peppered Alan with questions, asking about methods for collecting rainwater and the best way to start collecting and redistributing graywater. Alan said a laundry system is easiest because there’s already a pump in place. He emphasized that sustainability is not as expensive, or as difficult, as people might think.
Following the discussion was a beer tasting led by Elliot Hoffman from Camino Brewing Company. The first beer, the N-120 Bohemian Pilsner, is the lightest beer Camino brews, but on the drier and more refreshing side compared to other light beers, Elliot explained. The second beer, the company’s most popular, was the Café con Leche Stout, made with Chromatic Coffee and lactose sugar. Finishing the lineup was the James Star Imperial Rye IPA, the “big beer.”
Next came a buffet-style dinner, catered by Smoking Pig BBQ. The numerous savory dishes included homemade cornbread, coleslaw, potato salad, their famous BBQ beans, smoky pulled pork, juicy beef brisket, and pork spareribs. Dessert was a decadent peanut butter pie, with an Oreo crust, swirls of chocolate, and whipped cream on top.
Then it was time to start the project of the night: DIY insect hotels. Kathryn Kelly from Bay Maples explained how the tiny hostels, or “artistic piles of leaves,” can be placed nearly anywhere—from gardens to fences—and that there is no wrong way to create one. Guests selected from the various materials on hand (like twigs, plants, leaves, flowers, wood, and concrete) to arrange inside the frames handmade by Terra Amico.
No two hotels were alike. Some opted for more floral and leaf elements, while others stuck with the geometric wood and concrete blocks. One guest even placed miniature chairs in his habitat. Everyone huddled around the tables, some giving feedback while others worked in concentration. Bird and Willow, a sibling duo from San Jose, played breezy acoustic music to set the mood.
The evening came to a close as the sun was starting to set. Guests prepared to depart, cradling their miniature hotels—soon to offer local bees and bugs welcome refuge—as they said their goodbyes.
Special thanks to our event partners: Bay Maples Wild California Gardens, Smoking Pig BBQ Company, METIS Real Estate, Terra Amico, Veggielution, Bloomsters, and Petite Petal.
Written by Haley Kim
Photography by David Ho