The San Francisco Flower and Garden Show is an event I’ve attended since 2012. During that time I’ve hosted a booth and been a guest speaker. This year I went a to enjoy the gardens, plants and products in a more leisurely fashion.
The show is held at the San Mateo Event Center, and includes spectacular garden installations, a fun area for kids, and a unique assortment of plants, seeds, bulbs and gardening accessories for sale. There are also speakers on helpful gardening topics and garden demonstrations on anything from flower arranging to how to create a bonsai.
Believe it or not, landscape designers actually build gardens inside the San Mateo Event Center! The building starts over a week in advance of the show and takes a lot of planning and effort.
The first time I attended I was absolutely awestruck by the gardens. Walking into a garden installation was like sneaking into a famous person’s backyard. The landscapers and designers pull out all the stops to make their display look like a million dollars.
This year one of the gardens was based on the very popular “Minecraft” video game that kids (and many adults) like to play. The display invited visitors to move the elements around (the design had many pieces on wheels) and I saw a lot of kids having fun.
Although California is in a drought, it was interesting to note that many gardens featured water as a major component of their landscape design. It just goes to show how important water is for a garden whether its specifically for the plants or if it’s a part of the garden by design.
This year I was disappointed that Morningsun Herb Farm was not in attendance, as I’d planned to pick up some of their herbs. However, I did find two of my other favorite booths, Sticky Situation and Succulent Gardens. I also purchased a really neat raised bed planter from Cedar Craft which should arrive any day. I can’t wait to start planting! They had a great deal on their product at the show.
The Bonsai and Ikebana Section
Each year the garden show has an area set aside to showcase bonsai gardens that are up to 80 years old and still going strong! It’s fascinating seeing the various trees and shrubs bent into forms that look windswept and those with cascading blossoms of wisteria or other flowers.
Ikebana the Japanese art of flower arrangement that adheres to specific rules for display. In order to learn this art, it takes students at least two years to cover the basics (this is with class once per week). Many of the displays were created by artists who had worked with Ikebana for over 25 years.
The Highlight of 2015
For me, the highlight of the garden show was hearing Ann Ralph of Little Fruit Tree Nursery speak. http://www.littlefruittree.com/backyard_fruit_trees/Bio.html She was extremely engaging and had innovative information on how to keep a fruit tree small and enjoy the fruits of your labor. In her talk Ann mentioned that even though some trees are called ‘semi dwarf’ that they can still get over 25 feet tall. I strongly suggest picking up a copy of her book. I did!
The Pollinator Pavillon was an exhibit for kids and it did not disappoint! Lots of children appeared to be having a lot of fun, and so did the adults in the room. I connected with the folks from the Insect Sciences Museum of California about their exhibit and fun activities they do throughout the year for both kids and adults. Seeing the bee houses reminded me that many pollinators are not honeybees and that they also need places to live such as old wood and bare ground.
The good thing about the show is that every year they make a point to have lots of engaging activities for children that are also fun for adults. I’m always interested to see what they will come up with next!
About the Show
The San Francisco Glower and Garden Show started in Fort Mason in San Francisco in 1985, moved to the Cow Palace in 1998 and has been at the San Mateo Event Center since 2009. For more information about tickets, being a vendor or speaking, check out their website .