Thursday, March 24, 2011

San Francisco Garden Show Review - 2011

The San Francisco Flower and Garden Show is now open for your viewing pleasure.
It is located in San Mateo from March 23- 27 2011.

This year the show gardens were thoughtful in their design approach with consideration towards our current down turned economy , otherwise known as the ‘cone of doom’.
This translates to nice safe design with an eye toward recycled and affordable materials and the inclusion of the current trend of ‘grow your own food for Christ sakes!'.

The few gardens that appealed to my sense of quality construction, unique design and well balanced proportions are as follows :

Outdoor Environments got my vote for highly detailed construction craftsmanship.
The cubic arbor constructed out of richly oiled ipe wood displayed clean and tight lines.
The joinery was pure perfection.
Artfully placed across one corner was a swag of ceramic sculpture work by local artist Marcia Donahue.
From San Francisco Garden Show 2008


For looking outside the Pi r squared box ( that was the name of the exhibit ) Jeffery Gordon Smith wowed us with an organic formed vignette that used a variety of upcycled materials.
A giant orange tea cup ( a hot tub ) sat prominently in the center of the garden. I loved the shape, form and color but was horrified that it used environmentally assaulting wood heat to power the tub. Can you imagine the amount of highly polluting wood smoke it will create just to take a 20 minute soak ? ! Major points off for this eco offending energy polluting appendage. If they made a clean burning gas or electric tub in this shape, he’d gain back some eco- conscience credibility. His exhibit won lots of awards and shared ( a first ) the grand poobah prize of the Golden Gate Cup - Best in show award. ( note the 2008 winner.. .. a shameless plug )
From San Francisco Garden Show 2008


From Mar 24, 2011


Brian Swope of Terra Seca design is a perennial favorite designer of mine. He never fails to shy away from pushing the limits of design. This year his rock wave garden was impressive. Undulating waves of stone criss crossed over one another with drifts of tufted grass riding the waves. Unfortunately the lighting designer for the show did his exhibit no favors in using the incorrect light to highlight his design craftsmanship. The disturbing yellow lights killed the life out of the plants. When will the show hire a great theatrical lighting company like they use to do when they worked with Holtzmueller Lighting at Fort Mason ?
Good design deserves decent lighting .
From San Francisco Garden Show 2008


The artfully sculpted stonework from “A Lost Art Stonework & Design” company featuring Douglas Bryants creative handcrafted craftsmanship was quite impressive, especially when you consider he had only 3 days to construct his wall . I’m looking forward to hiring this young talented man in the future should such a opportunity present itself.
From Mar 24, 2011


One of my alma mater’s , Filoli, ( I did one of my Horticultural Internships there ) won the Golden Gate Cup Award for its beautiful rendition of a slice of California living. In true traditional flavor, Filoli festooned its exhibit with a beautiful show of spring daffodils blooming amongst exquisitely set native boulders. The well known and loved Dovecote was brought into the garden but the designer, Lucy Tolmac, spiffed it up with a modern twist by covering it with a veneer of savory succulents.
From San Francisco Garden Show 2008


From Mar 24, 2011


From Mar 24, 2011


Well that’s enough verbiage for now. Here are a few more images from the show.
If you can, I hope you can make it down to the show. I’m sure you’ll enjoy yourself.

From Mar 24, 2011


From Mar 24, 2011


From Mar 24, 2011

12 comments:

danger garden said...

Thank god! I was hoping that you'd be visiting and posting a review. The lighting was a major pet peeve of mine at both the local YG&P Show and the Seattle NWFG Show. Seattle's seemed especially bad this year. You were blinded by a ill-placed spot light when trying to focus on a unique planting or garden design detail.

Delphine said...

ha, i'm the first comentator ! (yes, i know, this word does not exist, but i'm too tired to look after the right word). I really wanted to understand all your feeling about the show. So i did translate all with Google and the result was really funny ! i like your description of the giant orange tea cup. Douglas Bryants work seems to be really beautiful. I love your relevant comments that give me the feeling of having visited the show in your company. Thank you, Michelle.

phrago said...

Hey, Thanks for posting this, I love your take on the shows, always. Love the stone wall by Douglas Bryants. Three days, the guys a genius!. Interesting that you like Brian Swope's designs. I have spent alot of time looking at his work ( and him :),trying to like his work, but it just doesn't resinnate with me. Maybe it doesn't photograph well or something, but his landscapes all look like a trip hazzard, but interseting somehow. Not surprised you were agasped at the wood burning water heater spa. Ha! Not the best for a person with your lung issues. My Sister will be there Friday and Sunday manning a both for the show....

beckygardengal said...

LOVE the new front page pic! thanks for the review and pics.

Christine said...

It's so funny, Michelle- I was wandering around the show yesterday wondering what you thought of it all. Especially the scarecrow in the hammock- such a careless detail on an otherwise nice design. I wonder if the wood-burning hot tub was some sort of conceptual comment on green-washing? Or perhaps I'm optimistically reading too much into it. It seemed like a big sloppy thing to plop down in the middle of such a lovely landscape.

Deviant Deziner, aka Michelle said...

Loree, yeah, the lighting design team stunk and did more damage than good for many of the exhibits.
When I did the last show at the Cow Palace I prepared my own lighting plan having had the wonderful opportunity of working in the past with a great theatrical lighting company at Ft. Mason . I think most designers are so freaking busy they just leave this important aspect to the show director and their team. Not a good idea , especially when you are lighting a challenging location.

Delphine, I'm so glad that you have taken the effort to leave your thoughts in English. I appreciate your opinion and your command of the english language.

Patrick. I think you hit the nail on the head. Brian Swoopes work can be a acquired taste due to its 'out of the box' design elements. If you met him I think you would find a friend forever. He's such a nice guy. Did you know he is also a surgeon ?

Christine, The scarecrow in the hammock with the beer can was like putting a turd on an otherwise well prepared cake. Less would have been More.
I am still a slightly ambivalent on J.G.Smith's garden.
I enjoyed it for its creativity but he has done this garden before albeit without the smoke polluting tub. I guess he felt that recycling the design was within the range of his theme of upcycling. It was cool to see it in person rather from picture in a magazine.

ks said...

Yeah, the lighting, it gets worse and worse. I hate using a flash, but was forced to do so , and those photos look like plant-lineup shots. Blech. I love the shoe though, and hope that they will do something about the tool small booth and aisle sizes in the plant market.

Kimberly said...

What's funny is I was about to leave a comment about the poor lighting, but I saw others noticed. It was frustrating for photography.

Town Mouse said...

Well finally! There was so little buzz about this show on the blogosphere, I was starting to get seriously worried. Then a friend of mine went, and didn't like it.

But I was so pleasantly surprised by the gardens! So many great ideas, everything seemed much more approachable than last year. Thanks for the report and the photos, I hope I can do mine -- from a Sunday visit -- tonight.

Deviant Deziner, aka Michelle said...

Hello Town Mouse,
Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts.
I am a long time follower of the S.F. Show. I owe much to my career for it and am very grateful for the opportunity to have shown there as an exhibitor over the years .
I think this year was particularly rough for the show due to the economy and a variety of other factors.
I'm just glad it has the tenacity to keep on ticking.
It's my hope that it will get back on track again as a world class venue for cutting edge design. The last ten years or so has seen it declined to rather pedestrian design work and that is why another group has tried to start a new garden show in the Bay area, but in these tough economic times it is hard to start a new venture.
Glad that you enjoyed the show. There was some really wonderful moments of insightful design.

Denise said...

Great review with solid criticism. Really wish I had attended the now legendary Fort Mason shows. I feel every garden show in the rear-view mirror is a step in that direction again. Maybe the Presidio Trust would be game to host future shows at the Presidio?

Alice Joyce said...

Missed you at the Presidio Habitats, yesterday, Michelle!
Also, missed the S.F. Garden Show this year for the first time, so thanks for the tour!
Alice