I’m just now winding down from a literally whirlwind week in the Bay area, where I came to visit the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show for the second year in a row. I had an incredible week filled with meeting new online friends, catching up with old ones, viewing fabulous display gardens and getting inspired. I’d like to show you some highlights of the display gardens–I had several “favorite” gardens, and even a few of the gardens I wasn’t so jazzed about offered up some nice details or vignettes. My goal when I view the gardens as a designer is to see what I can “take away” from each particular display–a new plant that I’ve fallen in love with, a different way of arranging space, a great new design detail, or materials that are used in an innovative manner. So here goes!
This garden by JGS Landscape Architecture was immediately my hands’ down favorite, and apparently the judges’, too, as it shared the top award with another garden. Titled “Pi r Squared,” this garden featured recycled and repurposed materials to create a more sustainable outdoor space. Recycled rubber floor tiles, drainage tubes and plow discs as planters, custom steel panels–yikes, I want to take everything out of this garden and take it home for both my clients and myself!
Okay, next up is a garden by Terra Botanica Landscape & Outdoor Environments Landscape Construction called “Wine-ding Down in the Garden.” I’m not a critic, but I’ll say upfront that this was not one of my favorite gardens. While the overall garden lacked a sensibility that I understood or appreciated–I just didn’t “get” it–I did absolutely love this small covered deck:
It was beautifully constructed, and would create a stunning focal point for a garden. Can you see the blue-grey river rock wired into cages on the perimeter? That’s what I didn’t “get”–I was left scratching my head on its inclusion. But the deck? Lemme at it!
How about a garden called “Reality Rocks?” Now you’re speaking my language! You want to see my nerdy side, take me to a rock yard. Created by Saunders Designs, this garden showcases California native rocks and cutting-edge green technology. Aside from the rocks and bamboo, what I love about this garden is the reminder to create a “view” or an “entrance” in the garden–see the circular blue portal? I’d love to recreate that in rolled, rusty steel. Our friend and Trusty Steel Man, Mark, would have a field day with that one!
Now get ready for an eye-opener! Check out this sci-fi display called “Plant Lab.” When my friends and I first entered the room, our eyes immediately went to this other-worldly display from the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at the University of California at Berkeley. It’s like hydroponics on crack, isn’t it? Aside from the obvious take-away of growing hydroponically, I really loved how artistically this display was set up: the suspended tubes were hung in an organic wave pattern that created movement, which is a really important design feature in any garden.
Here’s my last one of the day: this one was created by Ah Sam Florist and titled “Fresh Ideas: Born and Raised in California.” While I didn’t consider this display an actual “garden,” there were so many vignettes for displaying plants that I was giddy. One of my favorite plants is the tillandsia, which was gorgeously displayed in planters, hanging pots and in glass orbs. Check it out:
So that’s my first round of display garden tours, all brought to you by JPGD for your viewing pleasure. Is there one you particularly liked–or disliked–so far? Don’t be afraid to say what didn’t work for you–if done in a constructive way, identifying something that doesn’t “jibe” can bring you closer to understanding what you do like and what works well in gardens. And although there were about four gardens that I really didn’t like at all, when I looked closer, I could usually pick out an element that I thought was cool and worth repeating or developing with my own twist. Check in again next week for more pics and thoughts on other display gardens from SFGS!