Three’s A Charm: San Francisco Flower & Garden Show

On the first day of Spring this year I joined my friend Candace for the annual San Francisco Flower & Garden Show. We’ve decided that after attending for three years running, it’s officially a tradition. This year’s theme: Mother Nature Going Wild

Tumble leaf 4

Tumble Leaf No 4 Sculpture

The display gardens are the heart and soul of this show and they are really something to behold. Although they aren’t all necessarily my style, I appreciate the thought that goes into each one. It takes tremendous time and energy to install the garden displays in the middle of an indoor event center. They haul in plants, trees, soil and structures and in many cases paving stones, gravel and tile.


As you walk through each one, it’s fun to imagine what it might be like in the ‘real’ world.

There were fewer gardens then in past years with many of them focused on succulents or low-water use gardens. I also spoke with a gentlemen who designs a lot of water features  and learned that a properly installed water feature uses less water than drought tolerant plants. Of course flowing water attracts all sorts of birds and beneficial insects and is a key component of a healthy garden. Who doesn’t want a garden filled with butterflies, birds and bees? I’ve already designed one…in my head anyway.

Here are three of my favorites:

2015 garden show where the wild things are

Transformation: Hugelkultur Technique Garden Designer: Nathan Beeck and Juan Chavez Garden Creators: Clearwater Design

Transformation is based on the landscape elements of Hugelkultur

“using landscape waste into new organically rich soil and an underground sponge that holds moisture and encourages the development of a mycorrhizal web of life. – Program Statement

2015 garden show growing an artful garden

Growing an Artful Garden, Garden Designer: Max & Joanne Nagaele Garden Creator: Foothill Design

Growing an Artful Garden was full of whimsy and charm. We’re sitting at a table with a garden cake made of greenery. If you look closely you’ll see a slice. The program statements says:

The vibe is serendipity. The ornamental garden, vegetable garden and the vintage potting shed provides the viewer with a vibrant tableau.

Don’t you want to stay awhile?

2015 garden show waterfall

Beauty Gone Wild Garden Designer: Benjamin Goulart Garden Creators: Goulart Designs

Beauty Gone Wild’s design features

Gaia, the great mother of all: the primal Greek Mother Goddess, creator and giver of birth to the Earth and the Universe. She is the personification of nature itself, and we are creating her with nature itself in our garden.

I fell in love with this gorgeous fountain, and haven’t stopped thinking about it for a week. The soothing flow of water held me captive.

In addition to the garden displays, there are two other pavilion halls housing plants, trees and seeds for sale. A couple of hobbyist groups showed off Bonsai plants that were upwards of fifty years old. If those plants could talk!

There were plenty of gadgets for sale too, but nothing I couldn’t live without. We did leave with several bags of freshly made kettle and caramel corn, and put a serious dent in one of the bags during the 45 minute ride home. Yum!

Have you ever been to a garden show? If not, I highly recommend it.

27 thoughts on “Three’s A Charm: San Francisco Flower & Garden Show

  1. I love the sight and sound of a small water feature in the garden too Alys. I built one in my last home and it was hours of work and even more hours of delight! [I didn’t actually build it IN my home, it was outside 🙂 ] Love the sleeping/lying figure too – Perhaps it is Sleeping Beauty?

    I love a garden show but haven’t managed to get to one for a number of years now.


    • Pauline, how wonderful that you built your own fountain. That’s delightful. Do you have any photos to share? I would love to see what you created.

      We have a small cement-cast fountain on our patio, something we purchased for $79 about 19 years ago. I used to have it in a far corner near a dry brook to give the illusion of a flowing river bed, but the cats prayed on the birds and I couldn’t leave it where it was.

      I’ve added a suspended bird bath to the maple tree and enjoy watching the yellow finches stop by, but I can’t seem to discourage the hummingbirds from using the small fountain. Last week Mouse killed one in a flash. I was heartsick. We’re trying to find a safer way to have water in the yard. We’ve tried keeping him indoors more and more, but he has had free reign for so long that it’s difficult. I’m afraid he’ll start to spray indoors (as he does outside). It’s a dilemma.


      • I’m so sorry to hear about Mouse’s murderous antics – natural tendencies are not so easily subsumed are they – unfortunately. Does he wear a bell? Your request will send me scurrying to find my old photos – I’ll see what I can find – I’ve never gotten around to digitising them and probably never will. 🙂


  2. That first picture really appeals to me and a water feature would be lovely in my rockery…. but with the woods next to us it would need too much maintenance with all those leaves and seeds falling all the time. Still, we can dream! I have never been to a propergarden show, only commercial garden festivals where garden products are for sale. If there is ever one nearby though I will definitely visit!


    • It’s that a lovely garden? One year my friend treated me to an opening night gala. We paid more for our entry, but it also served as a fundraiser. The sale booths and plants weren’t open at night so we missed that, but we got to walk through at a more leisurely and uncrowded space and that was really special.

      Yes, I can see that a fountain of that size would be a challenge near the woods, but my oh my, what a dream to live so close to the woods that you even have to think about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That Gaia garden is EVERYTHING. Thanks for sharing the inspiration. We’re still dipping into below-zero temps, so the mind-gardening is what’s feeding my soul (along with starting some seeds).


    • Thank you, Johanna. I’m in the home stretch and very excited to meet up with everyone. I’m trying so hard not to catch my husband’s cold. Not easy when you live in close quarters. Wish me luck.


  4. Nope never been to a garden show. 8 bet they make you want to run home and plant stuff though! That mother earth display was incredible.


  5. That’s interesting about the benefits of having a water feature in a drought resistant garden. Hope you can find a satisfactory way to incorporate more water features in your garden. 🙂


  6. It’s all got me anxious to get something pretty growing this summer. I think our new yard has what they call ‘good bones’ but now I’d like to fill in the details. You’ve done it so awesomely in your own yard. I especially fancy your potted garden and Pauline has had great luck in her own small garden too. It tells me that I have plenty of room to grow even though it looks small.

    My favourite thing you shared was the big mossy face with outstretched arms. Thats so cool, like an ancient mayan ruin. Wouldn’t it be great to have a big water feature cascading down some rocks in the garden. Julia and I ate lunch in a wonderful covered garden yesterday at the National Portrait Museum. I’d really like to go again, just so you and Pauline could see it. xoxoxoxo


    • I can’t wait to see what you create this summer. Your lake garden was gorgeous. I’m glad you can garden now on a smaller scale, making it more manageable and enjoyable. It’s such a pretty home.

      I wish we had made it back to the indoor garden. It seems the time flew past us, doesn’t it? I’m glad you and Julia had those days together. What a town!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m going to bite off just little bits at a time and not get to crazy. I want to be able to go away and not worry too much about watering. Thank you for your compliment on our home. We’re looking forward to making it our own over time. We were talking about Victoria again tonight. Can’t wish our young lives away, but it’s going to be so swell to be your neighbour….hehehe xox K


  7. I loved every bit of it and maybe that’s why I have not been to a show. I’d want to take it all home with me. Trying to decide what to do first this summer. I really want the railroad ties out but know it will be a costly project and not sure what to replace it with. Eco-grandma said their was something bad in concrete blocks which I had thought of using with rebar. It’s starting to bloom out there and I want to get to a nursery so much to fill things in. Just takes buckets of cash. 😦 I loved the rustic look of most of your pictures. I’m sure we will have one here again soon. Have to keep my eyes open. Looks like you may get rain while you are way.


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