Vintage California: Stunning Display Garden

Tuesday night I attended a preview of the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show. This year’s show features 16 display gardens in addition to plants, seeds and other garden wares for sale.

Vintage California won several awards and it’s easy to see why. Designed by Brian Koch of Terra Ferma Landscapes, the garden features an enormous orb built with discarded grape vines. I felt like a kid in a fort.

The structure is both ethereal and substantial, a bit reminiscent of a nest.  I’m picturing birds swooping in and out of the branches while I sip my crisp glass of wine, below.

From the show’s site, Vintage California:

is a response to the wine country landscape and the periodic clearing of vines that have lost favor or popularity. This removal of vines is a process where large excavators scrape the landscape clean of the vines, posts and wires and then pile them up to be burned. Witnessing this take place while visiting wine regions has left a strong and lasting memory with us. The rustic beauty of the region and the interdependence of the winegrowers, the vines and, now, the natural ecosystems are what inspire us. The vine orb, which is the centerpiece of the design, is constructed of old vines that have outlived their value to the vineyards.

Vintage California

Vintage California
Terra Ferma Landscapes
Brian Koch, designer

I don’t know if it was intentional, but the row of grasses, planted on a gentle slope, are reminiscent of rolling hills of grapes. My in-laws had a small vineyard in Calistoga before they passed. I think they would have enjoyed this.

Underneath the vine orb

Underneath the vine orb

Inside the orb a low rock wall flanked both sides, with a small fountain between stones.

centered under the vine orb

Centered under the vine orb

A clever use of sea glass and discarded wine bottles forms the floor of the garden. I was a bit tentative walking on it, but it proved substantial. Isn’t it pretty?

plant markers

Clever markers, hand-stamped on scraps of wood

Throughout the garden, plant-markers sported hand-stamped descriptions on what looks like small scraps of wood. It added to the vintage vibe.

garden exit

Exiting the garden

The garden, planted with greens and purple hues and the incredibly fragrant Jasmine is restful. Congratulations to the designer and his team.


If you live in the Bay Area, there’s still time to attend the show. It runs through Sunday, March 23rd.  Tickets and info here.