Anne of Green Gardens

San Francisco Flower & Garden Show 2015

Fun example of a place to start seeds

Fun example of a place to start seeds. photo by Holly Guenther

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.

Beautiful garden with path and a sheltered place to relax. photo by Holly Guenther.

The Gardens

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.

Floating balls of glass reflect water in this garden. photo by Holly Guenther

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.

The Plants

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.

Bonsai is a form of gardening that is also an art. photo by Holly Guenther

The Highlight of 2015

For me, the highlight of the garden show was hearing Ann Ralph of Little Fruit Tree Nursery speak.  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!

Anne & Ann! We worked together many moons ago and I learned a lot from her.

For Kids

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!

CA is home to many varieties of bees that pollinate and are not honey bees. photo by Holly Guenther

Anne is the bees knees! photo by Holly Guenther

This is how I felt after being at the show for a few hours. Relaxed but needing a good sleep! photo by Holly Guenther

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 .



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