Winning Gardens—Winning Shows

By: Richard G Turner Jr

Richard G Turner Jr is the editor emeritus of Pacific Horticulture. After receiving degrees in architecture and landscape architecture from…

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Pacific Horticulture participates in three garden shows on the West Coast: the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle, the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, and the San Diego Home/Garden Show in Del Mar. Each plays an important role in local non-profit public gardens, horticultural societies, and garden clubs, and offers the visitor a total immersion in the world of gardens, even as gray skies and winter rains continue outside.

The annual flower and garden shows are about to burst on the horticultural scene, and, if trends visible in last year’s shows continue, we are in for an exciting season. As in past years, Pacific Horticulture will have a presence at each of these three shows, honoring outstanding garden entries with its annual awards. These events serve many aspects of the garden and horticulture community in their respective regions. Gardens—and garden shows—have become even more important to us as we process world events of the past few months. We urge you all to escape to a garden show near you, or schedule your travels to attend one farther afield. We’ll be there, and we hope to see you there as well.

Northwest Flower & Garden Show

The Northwest show in 2001 offered a number of avant-garde designs, previously seen only in the older San Francisco show. A new floor plan resulted in an elimination of constricting walls and an exciting mingling of beautiful gardens and equally appealing commercial exhibits. This was all in preparation for the show’s 2002 expansion into the newly enlarged Washington State Convention Center. While the number of exhibits may increase only modestly, the public space will be more generous to better accommodate the crowds that attend this third largest garden show in North America.

The 2002 Northwest show will feature an expanded orchid display, a specialty nursery plant sales corner, a new plant introduction area, and a special theatrical reading event. The show’s gala preview party benefits the Washington Park Arboretum. The show judges this year will be Fergus Garrett, from Great Dixter, author Michael Pollan, and your editor; each will be lecturing as part of the popular seminar series. In addition, Pacific Horticulture will bestow an award for the garden that best demonstrates the regional nature of garden design. The winner of the 2001 award was “A Winter’s Passing (in the Garden),” created by Lorene Edwards Forkner and Sally Sykes-Wylie, of Fremont Gardens nursery in Seattle, on behalf of the Arboretum Foundation.

“A Winter’s Passing (in the Garden),” created by Lorene Edwards Forkner and Sally Sykes-Wylie, of Fremont Gardens, for the Arboretum Foundation at the 2001 Northwest Flower & Garden Show, captured the essence of designing for wintertime effects in a Northwest garden. Witch hazel (Hamamelis) and shrubby dogwoods (Cornus)with colorful twigs bring a sparkle to the background, while the white stems of Rubus biflorus var. quinqueflorus) burst from a woven cedar vessel (by Sue Skelly). An array of evergreen foliage provides winter-long interest, while whimsical sculptural pieces capture the eye. The transparent roof protects against rain without darkening a front porch graced by containers of tender plants. Paving allows safe access throughout the wet winter. Photographs by David McDonald, except as noted

“A Winter’s Passing (in the Garden),” created by Lorene Edwards Forkner and Sally Sykes-Wylie, of Fremont Gardens, for the Arboretum Foundation at the 2001 Northwest Flower & Garden Show, captured the essence of designing for wintertime effects in a Northwest garden. Witch hazel (Hamamelis) and shrubby dogwoods (Cornus) with colorful twigs bring a sparkle to the background, while the white stems of Rubus biflorus var. quinqueflorus) burst from a woven cedar vessel (by Sue Skelly). An array of evergreen foliage provides winter-long interest, while whimsical sculptural pieces capture the eye. The transparent roof protects against rain without darkening a front porch graced by containers of tender plants. Paving allows safe access throughout the wet winter. Photograph by David McDonald

San Diego Home/Garden Show

Only two years ago, the San Diego Horticultural Society took on the task of turning the small garden section of this long-running show into something that would attract and inform the serious garden lover in Southern California. Each year, they have assembled a group of garden makers to produce a range of appealing gardens, from practical backyard living spaces for children and adults to horticultural extravaganzas capable of satisfying the plant enthusiast. In addition, they have organized an excellent lecture series offering practical and inspirational programs for the home gardener.

For 2002, the San Diego show promises even more exciting gardens, a better-structured exhibit space for horticultural groups, and more lectures and workshops. The delightful opening night gala benefits the educational programs of the San Diego Horticultural Society. Pacific Horticulture will present its Horticulture Award along with the show awards given in numerous categories. Our 2001 award was given to the beautifully staged—and whimsically titled—“Seussian Succulence,” designed and installed by Jeff Moore of Solana Succulents in nearby Solana Beach.

“Seussian Succulence,” the aptly named garden created by Jeff Moore of Solana Succulents, received our Horticulture Award at the San Diego Home/Garden Show. Reminiscent of the whimsical characters in a Dr Seuss children’s story, the barrel cacti, aloes, and other succulents featured in this garden were immaculately grown and exquisitely arranged in a simple composition of sand, boulders, raw pottery, and plants. Subtle lighting gave emphasis to the design, which could easily have fit into a small condominium garden to provide season-long interest with minimal upkeep. Photograph courtesy of Westward Expos

“Seussian Succulence,” the aptly named garden created by Jeff Moore of Solana Succulents, received our Horticulture Award at the San Diego Home/Garden Show. Reminiscent of the whimsical characters in a Dr Seuss children’s story, the barrel cacti, aloes, and other succulents featured in this garden were immaculately grown and exquisitely arranged in a simple composition of sand, boulders, raw pottery, and plants. Subtle lighting gave emphasis to the design, which could easily have fit into a small condominium garden to provide season-long interest with minimal upkeep. Photograph courtesy of Westward Expos

San Francisco Flower & Garden Show

The San Francisco show turns the less-than-glamorous Cow Palace into a garden wonderland each March. Here again, a new floor plan in 2001 reorganized the main hall to give the visitor a greater sense of immersion in the gardens. The older San Francisco show, staged in the piers at Fort Mason, was known for its radical—and often controversial—garden designs. Those have been missing from the new show at the Cow Palace, until 2001, when David Brunner and friends created a thoroughly engaging design incorporating pattern and a clever juxtaposition of hardscape and plants. Perhaps most avant-garde was the installation by students from the landscape architecture program at UC Berkeley; they turned the entire notion of a garden upside-down with mirrors and suspended grasses.

For 2002, the San Francisco show will introduce horticultural competitions, which are so popular at shows in Philadelphia and Boston. Returning will be the extensive exhibit of koi, new plant introductions, huge orchid and bonsai displays, the beautiful and educational Ikebana exhibit, and the seminar series. A highlight each year is the Pacific Horticulture symposium on New and Cool Plants, featuring half-hour talks on specific plant groups by representatives from Bay Area nurseries and botanical gardens. The grandest garden party of the year will be the opening night preview, which benefits the Friends of Recreation and Parks. Pacific Horticulture will invite local experts to select the garden worthy of its award for the best demonstration of the regional nature of garden design. In 2001, that award was given to Michelle Van de Voorde and Green Acres Landscaping for their feng shui-inspired garden, “My Personal Sanctuary in Harmony with Feng Shui.”

“My Personal Sanctuary in Harmony with Feng Shui,” designed by landscape architect Michelle Van de Voorde and created by Green Acres Landscaping, offered a cross-cultural garden that succeeded on all levels. Designed according to principles of the Chinese art of placement, the garden employed elements and materials representative of a mediterranean climate, and provided outdoor living spaces to meet the needs of a California family. With a nod to water conservation, the well-chosen plantings reflected the international palette of plants that thrive in Bay Area gardens. Photograph by RGT

“My Personal Sanctuary in Harmony with Feng Shui,” designed by landscape architect Michelle Van de Voorde and created by Green Acres Landscaping, offered a cross-cultural garden that succeeded on all levels. Designed according to principles of the Chinese art of placement, the garden employed elements and materials representative of a mediterranean climate, and provided outdoor living spaces to meet the needs of a California family. With a nod to water conservation, the well-chosen plantings reflected the international palette of plants that thrive in Bay Area gardens. Photograph by RGT