Thursday, March 25, 2010

San Francisco Garden Show 2010 Review

The San Francisco Garden Show opens March 24 - 28 2010 at the San Mateo Event Center

Tickets at the door are $ 20.00 and are good for the entire length of the show.

Let it be known that I take garden shows seriously.

I look at them with a critical eye towards detail, design, execution and overall expression.

From Chelsea to Boston to San Francisco, I evaluate them all the same, - are they executed exceedingly well and up to international standards.

The 2010 San Francisco Garden Show delivered the goods.

Upon entering the San Mateo venue ( unfortunately the show is not located in San Francisco) one is greeted by a fantastically large cube clothed with succulents, floating effortlessly on a watery moat.

The design is by Organic Mechanics.

From San Francisco Garden Show 2008

A path of antique millstones leads you into the den of the cube

From San Francisco Garden Show 2008

The chandelier inside the cube

From San Francisco Garden Show 2008

The other entry garden greeting the garden goers is designed by Keeyla Meadows.

It is a chaotic assemblage of cast and colored concrete forms accented with a cacophony of equally loud bustling blossoms.

From San Francisco Garden Show 2008

Calm is restored as you venture into the beautifully presented garden by Luciole.

Finely detailed and crafted polished concrete and wood furniture is placed on a carpet of crushed gravel surround by a tasteful planting of palm trees and Mediterranean plants

From San Francisco Garden Show 2008

The students from Arizona State traveled again to San Francisco and pleased the viewers with another innovative garden, showing us that a desert garden can be fun and functionally lovely to be in.

From San Francisco Garden Show 2008

Mariposa landscaping inspired us with their beautiful hand crafted stone and woodworking work.

From San Francisco Garden Show 2008

Always one to have fun with her garden designs is Mary TeSalle from Quite Contrary Gardens. Here she is dancing amongst her tree house and 100 year old Olive trees

From San Francisco Garden Show 2008

Brian Swope of Tierra Seca continues year after year to wow the crowds with this strong sculptural works and conscientious native plant plantings.

From San Francisco Garden Show 2008

My favorite garden by far was an Artist’s Garden by Dawn Engel

Featuring exquisite details and finely tuned plantings set in a courtyard in the heart of New Orleans.

From San Francisco Garden Show 2008

Huettl Landscape Architects presented us with a beautifully crafted contemporary lounge.

The ceramic clay fish are by Marilyn MacKenzie.

From San Francisco Garden Show 2008

This year there was a sculpture garden set outside on a plot of lawn.

I appreciated the works of art, especially Marcia Donahues ceramic sculpture, but was disappointed in how the space was presented.

From San Francisco Garden Show 2008

A sculpture exhibition should have a space all its own rather than have some of the vendors hawking their wares within the same space. It lessens the intensity of the art and compromises the artistic integrity of the work being shown.

Unfortunately my photos of the grand prize winner, Garden Route, came out terrible.

They created a garden of native grasses , a grass covered core ten pergola and a patio devoid of any signs of life. It was a garden surviving after the apocalypse.

Not very inspiring really. Quite boring. But natives are the trend and I suppose the judges were drawn to it.

The market place was full of wonderful plant nurseries, garden accroutements and the occasionally displaced merchandiser selling bedding sheets and jewellery.

Below is one vendor show casing his grey water system.

In his exhibit he had this great plastic furniture. I thought they were holding tanks for grey water , but they weren’t.

I think this vendor could really be onto something if he were to make these pieces into functional working water holding systems.


From San Francisco Garden Show 2008

For more information on this years garden show check their webpage :


Kerry said...

Thanks Michelle. Can't say I'm a fan of Keeyla Meadows' work. The succulent cube is fabulous. I always love Marcia Donahue's ceramics. Is that black finish achieved with raku?

Deviant Deziner, aka Michelle said...

Hi Kerry,
Thanks for dropping in.
It looks like Marcia is using a basalt based clay that fires to a black finish.
It does not appear to be raku'ed.
I'll have to ask her next time I see her.
Her work is always intriguing and well executed.

Can't say that I am a fan of Keelya's work either.
It looks immature, unfinished and hastedly done.
If I wanted art work that looked like a third grader had done it , I would purchase it from a third grader.

Loved the succulent cube. It really evoked emotion.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing these photos - lovely!

Christine said...

I'm right there with you with Keeyla. Too much!
It sounds like the winner of the show borrowed the idea from Kate and Ben Frey's Late Show garden?
Also, this new venue still puts all the gardens in the dark?! Sigh...
Thanks for the preview- can't wait to see it in person!

Phrago said...

Hey there Cow Girl, I sure am sorry I missed out on the show. Your right about Keeyla's installation. Very unfocused. But I couldn't help notice the large oak leaves in the gravel path. Do you think she was making a node to your own fabulous mosaic entry walkway? Thanks for posting these pics... Patrick

danger garden said...

Thank you for giving us (me) a look at this show. Is it always so late in the season? Not that it is really late, it's just the Portland and Seattle shows are so early that it seems late. Maybe someday I'll be able to make the trip!

Plantiis said...

I like the checkered wall of plants! I'd like to try out that design.

Laura Livengood said...

Thanks for the post, Michelle! I've been so looking forward to hearing what garden designers and bloggers would have to say about the gardens. I think Keeyla's gardens suffers in lack of explanation; it is a huge sculpture of a reclining woman, which can be seen much better when viewed from above. All of her hand cast pottery (including the stepping stones is really whimsical and lovely, but perhaps not enough of the 'Habitat' the name implied to satisfy the judges that her stated design objective had been met. It's a wonderful thing to photograph. Next year we will definitely be working on the lighting. And Michelle, if you can find us this much space, easy to get to with lots of parking in San Francisco, we'll consider it!

Stone Art's Blog said...

Looks like it was a great show.

Deviant Deziner, aka Michelle said...

Thanks all for your comments.
Some of the lower piers closer to the Bay Bridge might be a good option to research for space and the amount of parking that is required.
Might even be able to incorporate an open flat top barge for spatial layout, natural light and ambience....
( though in S.F. the windy and chilly bayside weather can be brutal in mid march )

Re: Keeyla Meadows installation:
If you have to depend on a description to get the point across about your 'art' work then in some way the presentation failed.
Personally I don't think this was much of the problem as much as the style in which she works in was unappealing to the judges aesthetic acumen.

Kimberly said...

The cube made me feel like I was in a castle with a moat :) My favorite gardens all appealed to my adventurous/fantasy side.

Kerry said...

I happened across this link from the Flower and Garden FB page: It's a good slide show of the show. It shows Keeyla Meadows' garden for the pure chaos that it is. I'm all for artistic gardens but there is absolutely nowhere for the eye to rest when looking at her garden. It looks like a crazy hodge podge of everything she could possibly think of, it doesn't look 'designed'. By comparison I think of Marcia Donahue's garden, The Harland Hand gardens, some of Topher Delaneys' garden - all with some artistic/crazy elements but with cohesive design.

There are some great shots of the Creole Jazz garden - I really like some of the elements. I love the re-bar gate/fence.

The once upon a tree house kind of makes me sad and wonder what will happen to those 100 year old olive trees after the show.

Thank dog I wasn't there to buy up all the rusty metal stuff from one of the vendors. It's like I have a beacon for rusty metal. Whenever I used to go to the Alameda Flea Market it would be the number one thing I would find and gravitate towards.

Anyway, thought I would share. :)

P.S. Can't wait to see photos of your pitcher plant water feature Michele. You should open and Etsy store - I would buy from you, I love your ceramics and mosaics.

Germi said...

Hey Michelle!
GREAT post!
I LOVED the show - had a wonderful time, and I also tend to be pretty critical about show gardens - within such a theatrical setting, I appreciate people going for it! But, I don't think "going for it" means one suspends ideas of taste good design.

I totally agree with you about the Keeyla Meadows garden. Being pretty involved in the Fine Art community myself, and loving the intersection between art and gardens, I found it ham-fisted and obvious. One of the most crucial elements about good design is an eye for editing - there had to be some restraint to balance out all of the crazy (and you KNOW I love crazy). I saw none - it really made me look away! I think people who use the word "art" tend to get away with alot - but there is a difference between "art" and "artsy".

On the other hand, I LOVED the post-apocalyptic garden! I thought it was subtle AND over-the top, I loved the use of texture - and the cor-ten lean-to was SO beautiful! I thought it risked showing a garden without the typical garden show 'eye candy' (meaning annual flowers - but it did go a little far in all the metal work, in my opinion). I appreciate a risk like that. No eye catching color, no flowers - dead leaves ... and it was still beautiful. To me.

OMG - I have to hurry up and write my own post about it rather than using up all your comment space! Thanks for the space to let me go on ... love a good conversation about design!

susan morrison said...

Excellent post, Michelle. Agree about the presentation of the sculpture garden. In fact, until one of the show's owners asked me what I thought of the sculptor garden, I didn't even get that there WAS one. Thought it was just some incidental art.

Had a feeling I was out there on my own in my admiration of Keeyla's garden. The funny thing is, I generally don't care for her garden style for all the reasons you and some of your commenters give. Although I didn't like the plant choices and agree with Laura S. that the concept needed too much explanation, not to mention that the stated design intent didn't seem to match the garden, I still ranked it among my favorites. I loved the concept of a woman reclining, appreciated the way the scale of the garden came together and (other than the crayola plants) really enjoyed all the colorful ceramic details. I thought it married a clever concept with lots of accessible details. Plus, I think I just liked the overall exuberance of this garden. While intellectually I appreciate the subtly of some of the other gardens, the truth is all the beige walls and beige gravel start to be a bit of a yawn for me.

But then again, I'm the kind of person who appreciates a foreign film with subtitles, but is secretly much more excited when a new Star Trek movie comes out.

jana braswell said...

Good lord. I DREAM of having this kind of garden, view, life... I know 'I can have this, too', but really. How glorious. I want to spend every cent I earn, every moment I have, on creating such a haven like this.. natural beauty. Im so glad I found your blog. A vision for what I aspire to. Porno, for sure. Merci!