READERS' PICK: This feels like one of those funky hipster gardens on New York's Lower East Side. There are round beds, square beds, spirally beds, ornamental junk, murals by neighbors, a bulletin board with intriguing neighborhood and garden gossip, flowers, fruit trees, veggies and perennials. It's especially magical at night when moonlight floods the paths and the sunflowers glow in the dark and the sounds of crickets and trains take over. This garden makes us want to sell our Santa Fe-style foothills palace with the pool in the gated community and move to Dunbar Spring, grow all our own food, and become artists.
READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Miles Exploratory Garden, 1400 E. Broadway Blvd. You can't help but notice this evolving playground of ecological insight even as you fly by on busy Broadway Boulevard. In addition to learning desert ecology, the elementary-aged students at this public school have received hands-on training in sustainable technologies like water harvesting and straw-bale building. The terrain here looks more surreal than decorative, and coaxes a twinge of envy at the thought of being under four feet tall in such a playground as this. Kudos to Shea Solomon (of Women Build Houses) and the Food Conspiracy Co-op for their generous contributions in creating this outdoor classroom.