Opening Night: San Francisco Flower and Garden Show

at the show

With my friend Candace wearing our beautiful Hawaiian leis.

Last night was great fun.  I attended the opening night celebration of the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show.

We were ravenous when we first arrived, so we took a cursory look, then found the buffet.  Sated, wine glass in hand, we sat near the podium where they announced the winners.  Then we were off.

She showcase gardens are incredible works of art, combining plants and trees with hard-scaping. The effort it takes to install one of these gardens is monumental, but by the time we arrived, all was in place and looking fabulous.  These shows are always crowded, so one of the best parts of attending last night was the smaller gathering of people. The downside is that we missed the commerce portion of the show, vendors selling garden-related fare as well as plants and seeds.  I don’t *need* a thing, but it’s always fun to look.

There are 16 gardens displayed this year.  American Community Garden Association created one of the designs.  Three colleges, including  Academy of Art University, Arizona State University and Foothill College presented collaborative efforts.  The rest of the garden creators are professional landscapers and designers.  They were all beautiful and incredibly diverse.

Here are a few (Note: the photos are mine, the descriptions come from the show program).

Sanctuary Steppes

Remember how excited you got as a kid when you used Mom’s bed sheet to make a tent in the backyard? You and your buddies thought it was the coolest thing ever. Yurts will have that effect on kids. As adults, our needs are more. Imagine a garden sanctuary where you enter a realm that soothes and calms. The healing plants or herbs are not just ornamental. Inside the yurt you touch the earth. You can even gaze at the stars through that opening. The paths are for walking meditation. The open courtyard and fire pit are for story telling late into the night. Other sculptural elements awaken us to be mindful of many things.

garden yurt
Sanctuary Steppes
Garden Hortica, Jeffery Lim
Healing Spirit Plants, Richard Koenig
Village Yurts

The idea of a yurt in the middle of a garden sure sounds like fun. I love the surrounding paths and the beautiful plants.


We are Inspired by the boatyards of the Northern California coastline. Like these yards, we use materials that are readily available, practical, and that we can find at low-cost. These materials include discarded decks, arbors, play structures, tailings, and concrete forms, and many, many fence boards. We bind these materials with metal fasteners and use them in new ways to create space, pattern and texture in our garden. Inspired by marine spirit, practical materials and modern lines, our garden introduces a refreshing style to the Bay Area garden.

McKenna Landscape Leslie McKenna

Anchored: McKenna Landscape
Leslie McKenna

garden bench

Anchored: Trying on the garden for comfort


Anchored: the long view

There were so many clever ideas in this garden. The top of the outdoor bar incorporated nautical rope under a piece of glass (see photo collage, bottom right). They used anchors and seashells throughout the design and beautiful reclaimed wood. The garden was warm and comfortable.

Days Gone By

Days Gone By demonstrates how a garden can embody the unique character of a place’s heritage while incorporating modern details that evolve and enliven it. All details were selected with functionality in mind. The paving in the garden is original cobble used in San Francisco streets in the 1800s, evoking a feeling of wandering through the city in humbler days.

We both took a turn on the garden swing and loved the cozy appeal. Everything in the garden is edible, including the cat grass planted beneath the swing.

Days Gone By

Days Gone By
Hortisculpture Landscape, Rebecca Pollon
Extol Construction, Edwin Moriarty

Days Gone By: Espaliered fruit trees

Days Gone By: Espaliered fruit trees

I have more to share, so please stop by again soon. Meanwhile, what do you think so far? Can you picture yourself in one of these gardens?

12 thoughts on “Opening Night: San Francisco Flower and Garden Show

  1. What a wonderful thing to do Alys – everything you have shown is just lovely – so inspiring! I particularly like the idea of the edible garden with the swing – just sitting swinging and munching! What could be better? I bet you came away brimming with ideas for your own garden paradise!

    I was all set to attend my first NZ Garden Show a few years back… it had just been relocated to Christchurch from Auckland, making it so much more accessible for us. The earthquakes struck and the whole exhibition was cancelled. It opened last year again for the first time. Maybe we will make it one day.


    • I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the pictures, Pauline. These shows are really something. I love the imagination.

      I’m sorry to hear about your missed opportunity, and sad that it coincided with such a terrible time in Christchurch. What a terrible time.

      I hope you will make it to a show one day.


  2. I can tell buy all the photo’s you shared that you totally enjoyed the show and each others company. It all looked amazing and I still can’t quite grasp the idea that it’s all put together and then dismantled too. Mind is blown. Not surprisingly, my favourite so far is the Days Gone By Garden. The espaliered fruit trees seem both contemporary and nostalgic at the same time. So they are, in my mind, a great bridge from past to present. Wouldn’t they be a fun way to optimize an urban garden with a small footprint? I was surprised to hear the Anchor garden was comfortable, it looks very angular with no soft corners. But I did notice straight away you’re still using your bag 😀 Have you had to wash it yet? Well I’m finally off to sleep. Nighty night Cali Girl xoxo See you in the garden tomorrow 😀


    • Isn’t it something? The amount of work that goes into these displays boggles the mind. I’m assuming it is worth it from a business perspective, especially if you win an award. It would be fun if you could visit around one of these shows one year.

      Days gone by is very nice. You have such a good eye to pick up the details.

      I washed my bag once at the end of last year before storing it for off-season. It still looks good and is nice and sturdy (as well as a daily reminder of you).

      I hope you had a good sleep.


      • It would be fun to attend sometime, they don’t have a show here for gardeners. There’s a ‘Home and Garden Show’ but it’s mostly advertising with little display. I guess it’s a good place to talk to say, several roofing contractors all in one place.

        Glad your bag made it through the laundry ok 😀 When it wears out, I’ll just make you another. I have extra material xoxoxo


  3. Pingback: Vintage California: Stunning Display Garden | Gardening Nirvana

  4. That was fun to see. What’s not to like? The backyard yurt looks like fun but an edible garden is what I aspire to. Thanks for sharing your trip with us. You look so gloriously happy in every photo. A person might think you are in your element.;)


    • Why yes, Marlene, you’ve found me out. I most definitely was in my element. 🙂

      An edible garden makes great sense, doesn’t it? Our neighbors are putting the finishing touches on theirs. I hope to interview her and share photos when she’s done. It’s looking beautiful.


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