I've had a few days to ruminate over my visit to the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show last Saturday. There is no way to flip the ratio of pro to con. Sadly, the cons win. Last year I posted of my hopefulness in the direction the show was taking , and the spiffy redesign of the website in conjunction with the speaker line-up for 2015 pointed the way to good things.
On the positive side, the seminars were first rate. I attended three: Dan Hinkley, Rebecca Sweet and Billy Goodnick; I have heard both Dan and Rebecca speak before and had high expectations (which were met ) and how could a guy with a Crimes Against Horticulture Facebook page be bad ? These three talks were the highlight of my day , and without them I probably could have done the show in about 3 hours. Rebecca was informative, accessible and charming (and for those of you aware of her current health issues, she looked great-what a class act that lady is) but she and Dan both had show management perpetrated technical problems which I will discuss shortly. Billy Goodnick was humorous , with a really unique presentation concerning garden design. I've redesigned my garden umpteen times over the years and have always felt somewhat competent but the system Mr Goodnick laid out was intuitive and logical, and I will use his process when I do my shrub border next year. Dan Hinkley --what can I say ? He never disappoints. He's the Steven Sondheim of west coast horticulture.
Though the website pronounced 'Its All About the Plants' the plant market has in fact continued to shrink since the good-old-days at the Cow Palace. I can name about a dozen plant vendors who no longer attend , and there are probably others that I don't recall. This year the building that houses the plant marketplace had a few empty spots , disguised with garden benches and potted plants , and a disturbing roster of county fair type vendors --bamboo pillows, hand lotion, vegetable juicers, dipping oil, popcorn etc. I can see this crapola at the hokey home show we have in Napa .
Fake grass sellers--4 of them that I counted..
I'm at a loss to understand why both Hinkley and Rebecca Sweet (and more of the presenters as well) were forced to display slides on screens in fully lit venues , which washed out the color of all images shown, forcing both of them to make frequent apologies for the poor quality of the display. This is pure ineptitude on the part of the show planners in my opinion .C'mon, this is Dan Hinkley-we should be able to see his damn slides. Billy Goodnick was on the only stage that provided a dark movie theater type space, though his stage set also featured a too low positioned screen which placed an elegantly coiffed head from the row in front of me in the dead center of his photos.
How about the display gardens ? They were ok. Still glad to see that the trend away from vast swathes of English Primrose and Azaleas surrounding a dramatic outdoor kitchen continues , and that the plant palette for the most part is climate appropriate. I noticed that this year all Bromiliads had vanished both from the display gardens and the plant vendors . There were no chickens.
My photos of the garden are uniformly bad. Here are a couple that are kind of in focus..
Got kind of a Bayou vibe from this one....
And the Saturday afternoon crowd ? Not encouraging. Lots of floor space= less and smaller gardens.
I did get a kick out of some of the bizzare flower arragements - there is a tradition of over the top here , and it was continued this year . Check out the moldy orange in the bottom 3rd of the vase.
I really can't come up with an appropriate comment on this one.
An interesting note, neither Sunset Magazine nor the Pacific Horticulture Society had a presence at the show . The Garden Conservancy did not have a booth. The speakers were sponsored by a start-up web based garden class site.
I'll go back next year , with lowered expectations. Maybe I'll take better photos too...