Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Exploring the SF Flower & Garden Show

By Laura Schaub, Marketing Manager
I’m an old friend of the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show; for the last ten years I’ve been a part of it in one way or another (it’s possible that I’ve never had to buy a ticket). First it was as a horticulture and design student, then as a display garden creator, and every year in between doing booth duty for various professional organizations. For the last three years I’ve also been the Social Media voice for the show, so yes, you could say we’re close…
Laura at the 2005 SF Garden Show
For me, as an avid gardener, landscape designer, plant geek, information junkie and social butterfly, the show is the place to see and be seen at the end of March. I like that it has become the ideal meeting spot for online friends from all over the country.

Being behind the scenes from concept to tear down every year has been a particular privilege, and I have great respect for the amount of work that goes into creating an event of this size and complexity. Renee has asked me to share my thoughts on this year’s Show, so here they are!
The Show Gardens are what make a Garden Show different from a Home & Garden Show. Up to 20 full-size gardens are custom designed and built by an elite group of designers, contractors, artists and students; and no two Shows are EVER alike.
Some gardens are practical, some are fanciful, and all combine to make a lovely village that exists for just a week. With luck they will live on (in whole or part) in private and public gardens, schools and parks for years to come. These are the handful of gardens that I found particularly noteworthy this year.
I was very impressed by first-time creator Brent Sumner and the Darjit team. Their "Dragon Garden" was unique, passionate and a great interpretation of our Gardens for a Green Earth theme, as it was made entirely of cultural waste, including the special sculpting compound called (you guessed it) Darjit that was used to make the Dragon and other garden elements. It not only won a Gold Medal, but also the People’s Choice Award.
Grass Guru John Greenlee and designer Mike Boss created a lot of buzz with Savanna! winning a Gold Medal, the Pacific Horticulture Magazine award, and the Golden Gate Cup for Best in Show. 

What I liked about this deceptively simple garden (a meandering stroll through a waving, textural wonderland) was how it succeeded in transporting you, if just for a moment, to “somewhere else.” Not easy in a cavernous, indoor space, but its sophisticated sight lines, a primitive soundtrack and strategically placed shiny objects (cool sculptures by Berkeley artist Marcia Donohue) worked their magic.

Another great thing about this garden was that all the plants were raffled off to benefit the San Francisco Botanical Society.
Dynamic Reflection
I’m a big fan of the distinctive stacked walls made by Andrea Hurd of Mariposing Gardening and Design, this year they were front and center in the Gold Medal garden she created with French's Waterscapes. I love the way she incorporates sculpture, pottery and even seat-size boulders into them. She trained over 40 volunteers at public stone-laying workshops this spring, and they turned out to help her build this garden.
La Vie en Vert
As a landscape designer, I look at details that others might not. My basic definition of design is “harmoniously arranging objects in space” and this Gold-Medal garden by Outdoor Environments does this so well; looking at those clean steps, neat walls, interesting plants and stylish details is so satisfying.
This small but intricate garden designed by McKenna Landscapes triggered my “ooh, I wish I had thought of that” reflex many times; such a satisfying combination of outdoor living spaces with so many thoughtful details, like this combination water feature/coffee table.

Next year's show is March 20-24 at the San Mateo Event Center. Maybe I'll see you there!


Chiot's Run said...

Someday I'd love to make it out to this show, looks like so much fun! Thanks for letting me attend this year through all your photos.

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