Geoffrey Coffey

Geoffrey Coffey is a freelance writer ( and rabble-rouser (, the president of Madroño Landscape Design Studio (, and a general partner of Bay Natives nursery (

Whispers in the Water


By a quiet picnic area in the Presidio, water gurgles out of the hillside, spills over brick walls, and disappears underground on its way north to Crissy Field and the Bay. This is El Polin Springs, celebrated by the Ohlone and the Spanish for bringing fertility to anyone who drank of it. Ambitious plans to uncover the watershed’s stream channels are peeling back interwoven layers of human and natural history to reveal a complete urban watershed.

A Landscape Renewed by Fire


Enter the woods on Inverness Ridge and pause for a moment to listen. Natural history weaves itself into stories for those willing to hear—whether teased from the patterns in stone, distilled from the rings of a tree, or gathered from … Read more

Getting Burned


Fire dwells deep in the human psyche. It is among the oldest of words, the most elemental of tools, and the primary means by which early man projected himself onto the world. The torch and the hearth fire enabled our … Read more

Indian Paintbrush


It turns out that some of the Bay Area’s showiest wildflowers are also parasites that draw water and nutrients from their neighbors.