Sunday, April 6, 2014

Show Biz

  A couple weeks back I performed my annual trek to the wilds of  San Mateo to attend the San Francisco Garden Show. Since the show moved it's venue from the spacious Cow Palace in South San Francisco several years ago to the long-in-the-tooth San Mateo Event Center, I have come back from the show each year faintly dissatisfied ..see my post from last year here..last year the line up of speakers was particularly disturbing , featuring a whole bunch people I had never heard of . Not to imply that I am a competent speaker critic, but I know what I like, and TV people just don't do it for me.   In the ensuing year, the show has changed ownership , and we were promised a re energized event.

 In spite of some freshman year issues (long lines at ticket sales, late arriving programs and poorly marked speaker venues)  I feel optimistic that the show is on the right path. The display gardens were segregated behind black curtains which gave them an air of importance that has been missing since the good old days at the Cow Palace. Many of them featured natives, drought tolerant and reasonably realistic  plant palettes-at least as realistic as plant palettes can be at a garden show, which is by definition a fantasy land affair. There was plenty of that going on too, and let's face it,   that stuff is what brings in the casual and novice gardener , and their participation the revenue stream is vital to the financial success of the show.

 Every seminar that involved edibles was SRO, and the show seemed as busy as ever, though the footprint was reduced. When I entered the building that housed the plant market I was at first quite happy to see that the aisles seemed wider, but it was an illusion-there were less vendors. Why they can't spread out these booths is beyond me -there are hours in the day when this area of the show is un-shoppable and there is plenty of real estate at the event center.
 
  My highlight of the show ? Horticultural photographer Saxon Holts seminar on 'Finding the Photo' followed by a hands on workshop on the display garden floor. Thanks to Saxon , I actually came back from the show with some decent photos-anyone who has ever tried to take pictures at these shows knows what I am talking about. Saxon made us feel significantly less inept when he confessed that he too struggles with the lighting , and revealed that official show photos are usually taken after hours with the house lights up. Those of you who follow Saxons' posts on Gardening Gone Wild will be glad to hear that the new PhotoBotanic website along with the much anticipated   E-book is close to fruition.

 Our workshop class spent quite a bit of time around this display garden..the lighting here was on of the least dreadful and there was a story ; the garden featured a rain collection system, something of importance to our drought stricken state.The black structures with grids are cisterns that collect rainwater from the gutter system



The outdoor living spaces seemed much more accessible this year..these next two photos are not particularly over the top, and I founf thsi garden very appealing, though my version of it would be far more untidy.





 The University of Arizona hit another home run  this year..








Re-use, re-purpose--this seat was made out of a discarded propane tank.
 

These hangy-things in this garden  were splendid..



One of the more theatrical offerings.





 In the shopping zone:

 Not in my wheelhouse.


More glass guys this year I think..


This broom guy was mystifyingly popular , I saw numerous show goers toting these around. Even in the information age, snake oil still sells.





12 comments:

  1. I think that broom guy was at the Seattle show too. There were people everywhere carrying those dang things. You did get some good photos. I like that one with the round porthole-type windows and the chevrons on the wall.

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    1. Last year it was the window cleaning extendo-thing guys. That porthole-window garden was one of my faves.

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  2. I find the show garden on the second photo very appealing with the colour and overall arrangement of the structures. And that yellow chair is gorgeous!

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    1. I took several photos of that chair before I saw the information about the propane tank re-cycle. This U of AZ team does an outstanding job every year.

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  3. Garden shows are what they are. If you get a good year consider yourself lucky. I took pictures at the CT Flower Show in February and attempted to post them but the write up was coming out too negative so I decided to keep my thoughts to myself. Lots of snake oil salespeople in our vendor area too but fortunately also lots of legitimate garden vendors as well.

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    1. My posts on SF have been negative the last couple of years. But I coupled them with e-mails to the management of the shows -probably an exercise in futility- but it made me feel better ! This show was so very grand at one time.

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  4. I haven't seen much coverage of the show this year, thank you for the write-up and photos!

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    1. I haven't seen any write-ups either Loree..I guess I'm the lone ranger.

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  5. I hope the hangy-thing makes an appearance at Orange County's garden show later this month. This show, which never reached the heights of the SF show to begin with, has also grown more disappointing in recent years. This year, I understand that the sponsors have partnered with HGTV - to say I'm feeling some trepidation would understate matters.

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    1. Kris, the last couple years at the SF show had lots of HGTV stuff going on too, but they disappeared this year thank god. It's my understanding that gardening is no longer a priority there, though I'm not an expert since I don't really watch TV unless it's baseball season. (Tigers at Dodgers on in the background as we speak) but I've seen lots of chatter here and there.

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  6. You got some great shots of the show and you're right, show gardens are very frustrating to photograph even with the house lights up - then you have to deal with the big bright light fixtures in the background and figure out how to crop them out of your shot. Chelsea's display gardens are outside which would be delightful! On the other hand, having the shows indoors allows for all kinds of fantastic plant combinations that would simply not work at all in Seattle in February for instance.

    Nice to hear that the SF show is headed in the right direction!

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