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San Francisco Flower & Garden Show: The Display Gardens

March 23, 2009

Sing by Mariposa Gardening & Design

Sing! by Mariposa Gardening & Design

The San Francisco Flower & Garden show was totally worth the ridiculously expensive plane ticket.  Both the Northwest & San Fran shows shared the “Sustainable Places. Beautiful Spaces.” theme, but I found the San Fran show to be much more artistic in nature.  The vendors were pretty much the same, although San Fran had succulents galore.  The creative integration of art and recycled materials in all the gardens, in my opinion, stole the show in San Fran.

I spent all day Saturday, and most of Sunday, ruminating over how I could possibly organize everything I saw, learned and experienced in one blog post.  Impossible.  There were 25 display and container gardens, countless free seminars by top garden experts and two rooms full of stuff to buy to enhance your indoor and outdoor spaces. I decided against talking about all of them in detail, so I listed my top five below, and yes, they are in order of greatness (in my ever so humble opinion).

1.  Sing!

Living Fountain using graywater

My favorite garden.  Blends all the elements I love in the garden: stone, pebbles, succulents, native plants, edibles and pets.  The impressively stacked stonewall reminded me of a design you’d see in the UK.   Andrea Hurd, owner of Mariposa Gardening and Design, featured a display of her living fountain that uses graywater from her neighbor’s washing machine.

Music is an art form whose medium is sound organized in time. A garden can be like music, a symphony whose medium is life organized in blossoms and leaves. — Mariposa Gardening & Design

Quick Facts on Graywater

  • Non-industrial waste water from washing dishes, laundry and bathing
  • Accounts for 50-80% of residential water consumption
  • Can irrigate landscapes and gardens with proper filtering techniques
  • Use saves on water consumption and water bills

2.  Natural Elegance

Natural Elegance by Studio Repica and Wendy Owen Design

Simply an amazing display of stylish sculptural elements and simple plantings.  Studio Replica’s reproductions of nature’s many textures perfectly complimented the natural planting design by Garden Fantasia.  Wendy, owner of Wendy Owen Design, added pops of yellow and lime green with her bench cushions that actually looked like over-sized lilypads.  The large cement rings used throughout the landscape were casted from a wooden ring Wendy had imported from Italy, and the pavers were casted from cross-sections of large Eucalyptus trees.

3.  Actinomycetes, Worms, and Fungi, OH MY!


What this garden lacked in glam, flourished in the down-to-earth goodness of edible landscaping.  Volunteers from the San Mateo Master Composter Program constructed the garden on a fraction-of-a-fraction budget compared to the other display gardens.  Repurposed materials from Freecycle were used to build the shed, raised veggie beds and plant supports.  I personally liked the lasagna gardening display, also known as sheet composting, which is a no-dig, no-till organic gardening method.

From trash to treasure, we celebrate the circle of life:  what we nurture in the garden ultimately nurtures us —

4.  Sky’s the Limit


This reinvention of the urban jungle took home the Best of Show award, as well as many others.  Rebecca Cole teamed up with Smith & Hawken and Mark Campbell to deliver a jaw-dropping NYC rooftop design that incorporated wind-resistant trees, hardy bamboo, drought tolerant grasses, and my favorite, succulents.  I don’t have the best photos of this garden because my crappy camera, but Bay Area Tendrils captured the display perfectly.

5.  Cool Living


The vertical design by Fiddleleaf Gardens was sophisticated on so many levels and perfect for an urban entry, courtyard or alleyway.  I was blown away by all the sustainable elements featured in such a small space: from the dog house with an edible roof top, rain harvesting system, solar system, no-mow Fescue lawn, to the Mediterranean, drought tolerant plants perfectly suited for California’s dry climate.  Find the list of wall plants on Flickr.

Did you attend the San Fran Show?  What were some of your favorite highlights? See more photos on Flickr.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2009 12:12 pm

    Always a big fan of Vertical Gardening!

    • March 24, 2009 1:50 pm

      Me too. I have not actually installed one but the Northwest and San Fran Shows have inspired me to experiment a little.

  2. Auntie Jo Jo permalink
    March 24, 2009 8:19 am

    All very interesting and insightful. I am really interested in learning more about Gray Water, I will have to do some research on that. I also loved #3, I am a HUGE fan of Freecycle!

    Great post!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • March 24, 2009 1:52 pm

      Good to see you back Jodi! Hope you are doing well. I am looking more into graywater myself. The owner of Mariposa Gardening and Design is a good place to start.

  3. March 25, 2009 11:27 am

    Wow! What art! And great pics! Thanks for sharing your show experience with us. Lovin’ it!

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