The emphasis was on design —? from austere modernism to funky psychedelic — at San Francisco's annual Flower and Garden Show in March, but there were also plenty of plants — from gaudy orchids to dramatic succulents —? to admire and buy. Here are just a few highlights and observations:
- Succulents are hot. The top award for display gardens went to Organic Mechanics' garden, fancifully full of succulents. Most packed sales booth belonged to Succulent Gardens. I came home with a dark Aeonium and a pink-rimmed echeveria.
- Who says California natives aren't good container plants? East Bay Wilds displayed pots full of beautiful natives, including a blooming California trillium ?— first time I'd ever seen one in a pot.
- Garden Design's own booth proved that you can make a spa (Sundance Spas) fit seamlessly into a garden —? the right surrounding decking makes the difference. Among other highlights: the compact Kalamazoo grill, like a piece of sculpture; the elegant overhead and stone walls from Eldorado, and the funky circular pattern of pavestones from Oldcastle/Belgard. Kudos to designer Michele Swanson and builder Thomas Raeth.
- The California Horticultural Society showed off some of the most exciting new plants in a display that had the straightforward functionality of a neighborhood nursery's shelves. Standouts: 'Fuzzy Lemon' kangaroo paw and Medinilla scortechinii.
- Another eye-catcher was right as you walked in the front door — the big booth of Eye of the Day. Its big blue pots were classically elegant.
- Show visitors got to hear from some amazing speakers, including two world-class landscape architects who served as show judges: Arizona's Steve Martino and Mexico's Mario Schjetnan. Get a sample of their work on their web sites.
- Author Amy Stewart was one of many popular book signers and speakers. Check out her revealing new book, Flower Confidential as well as her always lively blog, Garden Rant.
- For one-of-a-kind designs, you couldn't beat the cushy green meadow by John Greenlee; and the serene Asian-inspired outdoor room by Living Green.
Hope you all are as inspired as I was.