Monday, April 2, 2012

So...The San Francisco Flower and Garden Show

Sigh. Was it just me this year? I felt totally unengaged. Unispired. Uninterested. Don't get me wrong, there were some interesting moments. I'll show those in a bit. But overall it was boring. Not even silly enough to poke fun it. SAFE. Safe and boring.

I suppose the most interesting garden this year was John Greenlee's crazy grass jungle. It certainly was the most fun to walk through. And it certainly wasn't sticking to a "safe" and expected planting palette.

Greenlee garden1

Greenlee garden2

Greenlee pathway

The garden had some neat details like the stone lighting, as well as Marcia Donahue's fantastic ceramics.

Donahue sculptures

Greenlee lightkniphofiaGreenlee jungleGreenlee textures

Now, I just hate to say this, but if this was my garden, I'd be afraid my neighbors would show up with lawn mowers in the middle of the night. With the complete dominance of fine-textured grasses it just felt a bit weedy. There I said it. I don't think most home owners are ready for this look. I'm not. I still need a bit more woody plants and bold textures to be comfortable. But if one of my neighbors wants to have a garden like this, I promise not to bring the lawn mower by.

I'm not quite sure what to make of this garden. The central structure reminds me of an art nouveau time transporter that's spent too much time at the craft store. But they did have a giant gold dragon! And lord knows, I can't pass by a giant gold dragon without getting my picture taken with it.

time transportergiant gold dragon

This garden was quite nice. It had interesting plants combos - I liked the silver/black and bronzy/gold palettes and the use of those housing studs (I think that is what they were?) as fencing was very nice. And the columns of vertical plants was a nice twist on the typical one-dimensional features.

construction framing and chondropetalum

monocromatic plantings

vertical garden pillarsDan meets his twin

A garden for those with a Cinderella complex:

cinderella complex

I did find the colors in this garden interesting. The sherbet pink and dreamsicle orange would be great in fun girly, girl garden. Just would have to find some plants in those colors that could actually survive outside.

orange and pink

This is a great wall, but wasn't it there last year?

rock wall2

rock wall, stepscute rock stools

So that's what I noticed at the show. I guess there were a few things to poke fun at. All I can say is, even if some are a bit silly and over-the-top, at least they are better than a boring bed of azaleas, no?

azaleas everywhere


  1. Pink, red and purple Azaleas/Rhodies no less! That one frightened me with it's plant combos.

    I really expected to be blown away by the plants at this show, but that wasn't the case. Still I really appreciated the fact that while there weren't fabulous plants at least there weren't a lot of obnoxious ones (although yes there were some) and I liked a lot of the garden designs and hard-scape. Maybe it's just a case of the shine of something new but I thought these gardens were much better than the Seattle and Portland shows.

  2. I know you said you were "unengaged. Unispired. Uninterested", but you should feel lucky. Most garden shows I have been to lately are decidely not plant or design centric. They are vehicles to sell outdoor kitchens, concrete pavers and decking.

  3. Danger Garden - that is interesting that you thought the show was better than the ones up there. the photos of those shows always lead me to believe that the shows are better up there. And I'm sorry I didn't get to see you! I heard you were there on Friday, a day I wasn't there.
    Les - Yes, I suppose we are lucky that the show is not completely retail oriented yet, but it just seems so much less inventive than it has been in the past.

  4. Kelly, no, it definitely wasn't just you. I think the success of these shows really turns on the theme that's chosen. And the green/recycle theme for this year's show resulted in some garden installations that seemed more like Rose Parade floats. I'd be happy with a simple theme such as plants and garden design from the world's mediterranean or medit-modified climates -- nothing too gimmicky, but that theme's probably been done before by the SF show. It's all about novelty, I suppose!

  5. Denise/ I did't realize there was a theme! I looked for it but thought the show organizers chose not to go that silly route. The theme of the Seattle show this year 'a floral symphony' was just destined to be bad, in my opinion.

  6. danger! danger gardens! now there's a theme to intrigue people to attend garden shows. while the grasses in our yard/en aren't as tall as john's, sometimes i too wonder if the neighbors think it's a bit on the weedy side. funny how you stop "seeing" your own garden/tendencies when you're too much in it. that said, i'm so looking forward to getting out of town for a while to see what the gardens near the smoky mountains have to offer. looks like there's some quirky ones on tour. let's hope so!

  7. Good to meet you this weekend. I agree with you about the grasses being interesting but a bit on the weedy looking side.

  8. About that garden that is full of grass, that is (unfortunately) how I felt about mine. There is a patch where the tall mexican grass grow, they get taller and taller - even though we cut 'em back once in a while. I really want to just completely flat 'em out - put nice bricks or slabs and build a nice fireplace, instead of having a weedy looking area!!

    I missed this show because I was away, so thanks for the review!

  9. Thank you for posting this. It’s exactly what I was looking for!

  10. I like blog name! I have a new garden in the FL panhandle and have been blogging about it. I really like the creative spaces that you show here. I bet kids have a blast at some of these places, I know I would! Have you ever made any hypertufa pots? That's my next fall project. Look forward to following you!

  11. they are all fantestic pictures and lookwise so beautiful

  12. great post Kelly! Amusing, honest and informative. I'm fiending for a Kelly kilpatrick live-action youtube channel in the future !


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