Tag Archives: San Francisco Flower & Garden Show

Shirley Watts in “Curbed”

The Garden Bloggers Fling hostess for the 2013 meetup, garden designer Shirley Watts, got a nice writeup in the Bay Area’s Curbed today. Very gratifying to see a primarily real estate magazine throw some love at landscapes and gardens too. Both Shirley and photographer MB Maher, whose photos were used, have been long-time friends of AGO. Feel free to repost and/or Like it on Facebook to encourage more of this kind of coverage.


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I especially loved reading about Shirley’s 2003 installation at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, which I unfortunately missed out on seeing firsthand: “The installation, which had more moving parts than a Swiss clock, centered on multiple cube-shaped screens rising out of a densely planted landscape of grasses and ferns. The screens, hung at different heights and inclinations like organic objects themselves, played vintage 1950s time-lapse footage of highly saturated flowers opening and closing. “I’m mesmerized by time-lapse footage,” Watts says. “Something about it allows us to see what we don’t normally see. It teaches us things about natural systems, movement also. And in the Bay Area, the center of innovation, the idea of bringing televisions into the garden was natural.”

Unfortunately, the 2014 Garden Bloggers Fling has already sold out, a victim of its own wild success, but it doesn’t hurt to check if there’s a waiting list. The San Francisco Garden & Flower Show is just around the corner, March 19-23, 2014.


ranunculus

I took this photo of ranunculus at the 2011 San Francisco Flower and Garden Show (which is coming up again this week, March 20-24.)
Who knew ranuncs came tissue-petaled in cinnamon brown and pale peach? Last fall I tried like mad to find a selection of tubers with colors similar to these with no success at all. Local sources of tubers come in primary colors: Red, dark pink, white, yellow.


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I settled for orange and cut the first flowers just yesterday from my community garden plot.

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Riddle me this: Why do cut flower growers have access to an amazing selection of colors while the home grower does not?
Colors like these need to be shared.

Willow Creek Gardens offers a couple offbeat colors like ‘Merlot’ and ‘Flamenco,’ both from the California grower Carlsbad Flower Fields, which opens its flower fields March 1 thru May 12, 2013, an event that sounds similar to the flower extravaganzas more common in the Netherlands. I’ve never attended before. I likewise haven’t ordered from Willow Creek Gardens before, but they get good reviews on davesgarden.

Ranunculus are amazing cut flowers. Please tempt us with more varied and complex colors, okay?

Garden Show Road Trip 2011

Smashing two of my fingers in a car door just before leaving San Francisco hasn’t helped to speed up the process of posting a few measly photos from the show. Not quite the airtight excuse, since having two fingers turning gothic shades of purple and inky blue didn’t prevent me yesterday from planting nearly the entire flat of plants brought home from the show and several nurseries we visited. (I highly recommend making little protective condoms from rubber gloves to protect injured digits while planting. And this year I will get a tetanus shot.) There is an excellent little video by Cindy McNatt and MB Maher making the rounds, and Floradora’s posts are very comprehensive, with the added bonus of getting a designer’s point of view. As for me, it seems I did nothing but buy plants and, judging by the meager output of photos, paid very little attention to the exhibits. The exhibits were all solid, beautifully executed, not ground-breaking, but the show overall had great fizz to it, a good layout with lots of outer buildings and tents to ease the claustrophobia of the crowds in the main hall. And lots of great plants for sale. Geraniaceae and Digging Dog are where I parted ways with most of my plant show money.

I did admire the streamlined elegance, the utter scientific cool of the UC Berkeley hydroponics exhibit.

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Hanging glass has been on my mind for this summer. I keep this tear sheet handy, a photo by MB Maher of a friend’s studio.
Maybe using distilled water will keep the nasty calcification crusting from rimming the glass. Any excuse to play with glass beakers and flasks.

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Back to the show. This rusted bedspring would be just as cool hanging on a wall, filled with tillandsias and Spanish moss.
By Quite Contrary Garden Design:

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Shimmering Acacia craspedocarpa against corrugated fencing. Poor photo of a wonderful acacia.

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Tierra Seca’s “Golden State of Mind.” Exquisitely stacked stone walls and Southern California river rocks on pikes.

Photo by MB Maher

Although Brian Swope intended these floating rocks to illustrate that anything is possible in California, levitating over an “energy field” of plastic sheeting, I can see them used also as an inverse visual pun, floating over rushing water, over rivulets of succulents. I much preferred Swope’s stylistic treatment to the naturalistic use of rocks in some of the exhibits, which struck me as jarringly out of place in so artificial an environment. (I cringingly introduced myself to Mr. Swope as a “minor blogger.” Sometimes the words that spill out of my mouth….)

Photo by MB Maher
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From Gold Medal Winner Jeffrey Gordon Smith’s “Pi R Squared,” black plastic culverts planted with succulents, an exhibit he first built as a temporary installation on sustainability for the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden. A wood-fired heater warms the water for the tub then roasts the veggies while you soak. Sustainable decadence.

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One of the living walls from Filoli’s dovecote.

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Studio Choo’s florals in repurposed wooden dynamite boxes in Star Apple’s edibles tent. Possibly from being visually saturated by succulents and livings walls, I was riveted by these Flemish Old Master tableaux vivants with crown fritillaries, tulips, and ranunculus in astonishing Persian carpet shades of russet, raw sienna, mahogany.

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That’s probably enough flower photos. Congratulations to the hard-working people behind the SFFGS for a fine 2011 show,
a successful inauguration of garden road trips 2011.

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Plant Show Weekend/Weakened

I vaguely remember promising not to post any more photos of tulips, so in my weakened state I’m violating that oath with one more photo of tulips ‘Queen of the Night,’ taken just before heading north for the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show. The tulips have no doubt been flattened by the serial storms which have been queuing up offshore like circus elephants all week. Good thing I brought wellies on this trip, because it’s been nothing but squelchy ground underfoot. Could it be this inveterate traveler is slightly homesick? Sitting in a little kitchenette motel in San Francisco nursing an Anchor Steam, grey and drizzly outside, a car brimming with plants, including the legendary Mathiasella bupleuroides, (what fabulous good luck to stumble into this one, a propagator’s nightmare, found at The Dry Garden in North Oakland), and some rusted bits salvaged from Building REsources, I’m ready to swing homeward and plant, shuffle pots, shuffle photos, and write a bit about what I’ve seen. What a homebody I’ve turned into. Funny how that happens every spring.

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Senecio crassimus

I don’t see this succulent for sale frequently, or in gardens very often for that matter. Got mine at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show a couple years back, which coincidentally is opening next week, March 23-27, 2011. If I find it again, I might bring home another Senecio crassimus this year. Judging by the bruising and damage to its leaves, the pampered life of a container might be more suitable to this light shade-tolerant succulent. I’ll miss those purply stems and leaves alongside the path of the gravel garden rising up out of a carpet of Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina,’ but if I pot up the senecio with a small piece of ‘Angelina’ today to pair up these two again in a container, I should get a full chartreuse carpet in the pot, oh, in about a week. Dustin Gimbel has shared some S. rupestre ‘Lemon Coral’ with me, which he finds vastly superior to ‘Angelina,’ so I’ll be having a comparative growathon between the two this spring.

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Salvage

“Captain, your ship is salvage!” Possibly the most chilling words any ship’s captain will ever hear. Maritime law dating back to Byzantine times allows a ship and its cargo to be claimed by anyone, acting voluntarily (not in an official capacity), who rescues a disabled ship from serious peril from which the vessel or property could not have been rescued without such assistance. The laws of salvage will be dusted off and scrutinized to clarify the horrific event now unfolding in the aftermath of a Chinese coal freighter running off course over 40 miles and slamming full speed into Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Must be why I have salvage on my mind today. Well, that disaster and the recent San Francisco Flower & Garden show, where salvage was a big star.

The Garden Route Company’s prize-winning garden “Re-Generation The World Without Us” has provided a possible solution to my currently trellis-less grape vine:

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The grape vine needs trellising to reach the top of the pergola. When the trellis is in place, I can’t see the garden beyond the grape vine. Some years I like this sense of enclosure, but this year I want to try something new. I’m thinking lengths of chain hung from the pergola might be the answer. The grape vines clamber up the chains but won’t obscure the view of the garden beyond. The vine is leafing out and won’t wait for a trellis much longer. I’m excited to find out if the rusted chain and grape leaf have anything interesting to say to each other.

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The use of salvage at the SF garden show was tied to themes of repurposing, recyling, and as a reminder that although it is our dreams that give raw materials shape and purpose, cut stone and forged steel will outlive us and become infused with new dreams. It is this latter use of salvage that brings such pathos to a garden. The bilge pump of a ship scuttled long ago now cradles a votive candle:

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San Francisco has an excellent salvage yard, Building REsources, which we paid a visit the week of the show. They tumble glass and old pottery on site, so buying in bulk from them if you can haul it away is ideal.

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I didn’t bring home any tumbled glass this trip. What really floats my boat are the discarded cuts of marble and stone that make wonderful table tops.

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The shape, color, and texture of salvage will draw your eye, but the layers of history and half-remembered story will feed your garden’s soul and set it dreaming.