Best Garden Show Ever!

For Ms. Country Mouse and me, going to the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show has become a tradition. We would not want to miss the opportunity to talk to the many wonderful people who come visit the California Native Plant Society booth. We very much enjoy the many different interpretations of our ears (bunny? bear? deer? mikey?) - this time, we even wore name tags but nobody noticed our "Hello, My Name is Town Mouse".

And of course, we enjoy the opportunity to admire the show gardens - and to do a bit of shopping.

This year, the show was under new management, and the focus was on - gasp - plants!! It was quite obvious even as we walked in, and I very much enjoyed having the show gardens in their own space, without the distraction of light from the booths. I snapped quite a few photos, and will post them here with few comments. I altogether liked the gardens this year - they (mostly) seemed livable while still being creative.

If I had to summarize the trends, I'd say:
  • Fewer edibles.  Less gimmicky stuff. Large outdoor kitchens seemed to mostly be out. No lawn.
  • More natives. Most gardens had a few natives, and some gardens featured them prominently. It was great to see them everywhere. 
  • Grasses. Green, brown, natural, architectural. Grasses were used to advantage in many of the gardens. 
  • Simple, pleasing designs. And often, a few art pieces for kids or adults (or both) to enjoy.  
Close to the entrance, a greenman added a bit of whimsey.

The floating flowers calmed the mood after the bustle of the shopping area.

This viney structure was possibly the most over-the-top but I admired the work.

Inside the viney structure - vine - eh wine bottle form a plaza on the ground.
Right next to that, Pete Villeux of East Bay Wilds was showing of a stunning
collection of California Natives for shade

Another very popular garden featured a yurt in an environment of Chinese healing plants --
I enjoyed both the idea and the execution. Many different plants, but the design was
clean and simple.
An old car -- previously almost a required show element -- was the bottom part of a bar.
But with the hanging planters, the whole looked pulled together.
And everybody loved the marble "stream". A clever idea, well executed.
This vintage California garden was one of my favorites.
But I would give first prize to The New Leaf by BuenaLuna Landscape Design.
The combination of Meadowfoam, native iris, and species tulips worked well.
And I loved the basalt stone basin. You can learn more about it on
the DryStoneGarden blog.
We were taken aback when we saw this ornament in another garden.
Was this not a copyright violation of the shape of our ears?

But no matter, a great time was had by all.  After our stroll through the garden, we strolled through the stores but ended up purchasing only plants. Then after the usual mediocre lunch - why can't they serve food that's more like what they demonstrate how to cook? - we very much enjoyed volunteering. With our terrible drought many people are getting interested in natives, and we hope that we've been able to help them find some of the resources they needed.

Here's hoping that next year's show will be equally amazing!


Country Mouse said…
Thanks for your great reportage - excellent summary. My voice came back next day ;-) So many great visitors to the CNPS booth with great questions.

How did I miss the marble river!

Pretty much all my iPhone photos are awful. Next time I'll be sure to check that the memory card is in my camera!
Town Mouse said…
How DID you miss the marble river? It was quite noisy ;->
James said…
Wow. Thanks for the tour. Some friends made it up and were saying what a great show it was. I'm glad you had time to take a few photos to share--very nice details.
ryan said…
Glad you liked my garden and the show overall. I also thought the show was very strong this year, though perhaps I'm biased. There were a lot of cool things in the show gardens and the vendors were genuinely garden and plant oriented, without so much of the tsochke from past years. Hopefully that's how it will be with the new owners from now on.