Yesterday I went to the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, one of the two biggest shows of this kind on the west coast. The show was somewhat smaller than last year and I think I did a better job of avoiding sensory overload this time around, but it's still a lot to take in.
My first impression was that the display gardens were a little better this year compared to last year, more textural, less (for lack of a better word) odd. That being said, my favorite garden was a kooky scene called "Under the Sea" by Organic Mechanics. Using a wide range of succulents and some very cool metal sculptures, they re-created the look of a seabed. The use of form and texture was terrific, and the variations of foliage color gave it the look of dappled undersea lighting.
But if the undersea look is not to your taste, how about this bit of "Eye Candy" from the American Institute of Floral Designers? Just in case you were wondering what to do with all those carnations you're growing, now you know--you can build a poodle out of them.
Scary, isn't it?
Or maybe something more urban/gritty is what you're looking for. I left the guy in the shot to give a sense of the scale of these massive metal martini-glass-shaped planters. Talk about vertical gardening!
But for all the scenes that are screaming for your attention at a show like this, sometimes it's the simpler sights that make you hit the breaks as you tear through the aisles trying to see it all. I'm not a huge fan of bonsai, but nevertheless this was one of those sights:
And for Snappy, here's another--a glimpse of orchid heaven:
But there was more to do at the show than take pretty pictures. I attended a reception for the Garden Writers Association, which I've just recently joined. There we heard from the organizers of the show and the show's sponsors, Sunset Publishing and Smith & Hawken. (Sunset actually gave us all comp copies of the new edition of the Western Garden Book, which was definitely the best goodie-bag goodie I've ever received.) There was also a brief talk and slide show by Fergus Garrett of the Great Dixter gardens in England. I even had the opportunity to meet Amy Stewart of Flower Confidential and Garden Rant fame, who seems to be bearing up well in the midst of her book tour.
There was inevitably some talk of "trends" and they all seem to be pointing away from anyone actually getting their hands dirty in the garden. What can I say? I looked at Amy. Amy looked at me. We shrugged. I sense another rant coming.
Perhaps the best part of the show for me, though, was seeing so many people who have made careers out of writing about, talking about, judging, and otherwise drooling over flowers and gardens. Nice work if you can get it...