SF Garden Show Inspired

It's raining steadily as I sit down tonight to tell you something about us mice's grand day out at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show on Sunday March 28.

As we did last year, we signed up to mouse the California Native Plant Society booth. This year, Town Mouse made us each a set of furry mouse ears on a bandana and we wore them all day. I kept thinking, gosh, how happy everyone is, look at all these people smiling at me - maybe I'm just radiating peace and joy today ... then I remembered ... the ears!

The CNPS booth was really wonderful, as you can sort of see in the not-so-great picture, with fresh, colorful plants and a large Ribes sanguineum that drew a lot of people in for a closer look).

I think this year, more people than last brought some fairly specific questions to the CNPS booth. There were curious newbies and knowledgeable nursery owners, and all stations between. I was hoarse in no time.

We gardeners tend to be very nice, don't you think? We nurture plants. What could be nicer? I had a very nice time talking to all the very nice people.

And we got to take in the show besides.

I thought I'd just share some pictures of one garden installation that we both enjoyed very much, then in other posts follow up on some of the interesting questions people asked me, and other things of interest from the day.

Maybe it was because we were wearing silly ears and feeling light hearted, but I really enjoyed the bright colors and energetic almost cartoonish - no - painterly feeling to this installation (I'm not sure what they are officially called - they're like art installations to me).

I also was immediately taken with the you-can-do-this-at-home-iness of the hardscape, the whimsical paths and the retaining walls.

And even the pots maybe.

I used to enjoy clay modeling, and I think that's why working with concrete appeals to me so much. All it takes is corrugated tin roofing to use as forms, concrete ready to pour, and things to decorate the surface of the concrete with - to scratch, smooth, paint, and embed etc. Oh, and by the way - a modicum of artistic talent.

Part of the appeal, as Town Mouse commented, is that the bright colors in the hardscape would make the garden space bright and attractive even in the summer, when, one must admit, the chaparral habitat does tend to go to sleep. Also, for fire safety you are advised to have a lot of hardscape close to the house, not advice I've ever really relished.

The south garden area of our home is in need of landscaping and is definitely in the chaparral habitat, though it could also be edge-of-the-woods too. I could use a few non-invasive ornamental plants, and interesting and colorful seating and so on, and -- why not! -- brightly colored paths!

The landscape designer is Keeyla Meadows Gardens and Art from Albany, and the name of the installation is Habitat Dance with Redheaded Snake. The artist was there and said she had a book for sale: Fearless Color Gardens. Here's a blog post I found on it by BloomingWriter. The review says the book gives readers a lot of encouragement to be bold, and some tips and techniques for handling color and so on in the garden. Too bad we bumped into the author just as we were leaving, or I might have bought a copy.

I probably won't end up going for Keeyla's exact look, how could I? - but entertaining the possibilities is certainly fun. And thank goodness I can always call on Town Mouse, and on my artistic children and friends, to help me with the whole aesthetics thing, if I do give it a go.

But I would first need to look into the hardscape material. Town Mouse reminded me concrete has an environmental downside.

A topic for another post.


Gail said…
I wish there were a few photos of the two mice with ears! I have a copy of Keeyla meadow's book and am working at bringing more color into the garden. I missed out on a concrete carving class, but it does sound like a great medium to play with. Have I missed a post on it that you might have had showing us the process? Hint! Hint! gail ps Shows are very inspiring
Country Mouse said…
Hi Gail - ya, we should have gotten someone to take a picture of us with my camera. Maybe someone will send us theirs - Ellen Edelson of the Yerba Buena chapter of CNPS, who so wonderfully managed the whole booth for the entire show, took a couple of shots, so maybe we can post some later on. Concrete carving sounds really interesting. I'll have to look into it all more. I'll most certainly post if I do do any work in concrete or in other sloppy media. (Which is my favorite type! - comes of playing in too much mud as a wee wain!)
Christine said…
This garden was interesting in the response it seems to elicit. Either people hated it or thought it was wonderful. Glad you saw the good in it.
Can't wait to hear about your experience at the booth- I, too was getting hoarse with aching cheeks from smiling so much!
Town Mouse said…
Actually, Susan of Blue Planet Gardening has a most excellent review of the show, and the last picture has the mice with ears (at a pre-show event). Here it is:
Alice Joyce said…
Deeeelighted to meet both of you, and greatly enjoyed your take on Keeyla's garden.
And I can't believe that I didn't get a photo of the two of you with EARS!!!!
Must all meet up again soon,
Cool--I just had to go over to Susan's blog to see the properly mouse-eared mice. Very fun!

I like a lot of the details you've shared. Garden shows often aren't much about gardens, more the stuff you put in them. But you've made a good point about how the stuff might be a nice distraction when the garden isn't at its best. The one major grouse I have with some of these shows is that they're indoors. The dissonance of seeing the plants treated like houseplants and gardens like hotel lobby atriums always gets to me. Still, they're great ways for gardeners to get the chlorophyll flowing in their veins during a time of year when it might not be so clement outside...
Sorry we missed you! We spent quite a bit of time around the CNPS booth on Saturday, and actually became CNPS members.

We did take a second walk through that garden as we were leaving the show. For us it was interesting, and well executed, just really not to our taste. Although that said, I agree it was one of the few that seemed doable by the home gardener.
Country Mouse said…
Glad you joined up, CVF - Which chapter will you align with?

I think in a different mood I would have reacted differently to this garden. It would be hard to have a contemplative or even a sad walk in its jazzy atmosphere, and I do think a garden should accommodate various moods and provide solace as well as joy. But as discussed in the comments, the techniques can be used in different ways too. Now if I were a B&B I really might go for a style like this, to help make guests feel happy and carefree.
Kimberly said…
I'm still laughing because I thought the "SF Garden Show Inspired" meant "South Florida". I was upset that I missed something in my area!!! :) I looks like the show was awesome...love the stones.
Aw, no photos of you in the mouse ears?! Happy Easter. P.S. Yay, native plants!
ryan said…
Pam at Digging did a review of the Keeyla Meadows book too. I see a lot of Keeyla Meadows gardens around Berkeley, including at the stoneyard American Soil and Stone in Richmond. They're bold and always recognizable as hers.