Thursday, September 3, 2009

On With The Show

This week, to my great delight, I was invited to join the staff of the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show. I will be helping the new owners of this world-class event make it bigger and better than ever, and can think of no better way to put my experience to good use!

You see, I am no stranger to the Garden Show. The first time I ever attended was to help build an educational booth I designed for Foothill College, when I was a student in their Ornamental Horticulture & Design program. The booth won an award, and we had a great time.

I remember visiting the display gardens and marveling at how such huge, living, breathing creations could have come to life in the bowels of the Cow Palace; it was quite magical! I thought maybe one day I would like to build one of THOSE gardens...

My opportunity came just three years later, when fellow designer Daniel Owens of Enviromagic, with whom I had collaborated on an episode of Curb Appeal on HGTV the previous year, asked if I would co-design a display garden for the 2005 show. And of course I said yes!

Daniel designed the front part of the garden, with sleek modern lines and a cute little Crosley car parked on a travertine driveway.
(Ha! The pic on the Wikipedia link! Look familiar? How auspicious!)
My contribution to the garden was through the gate and up up up the stone stairs...

...where a tranquil woodland garden was built around a glass mosaic meditation platform overlooking the show floor. The process of producing a garden like this can be rather grueling, both physically and mentally, but the show itself was such fun; it seemed that everyone I knew stopped by to visit! Still, I have great respect for garden creators who do this again and again; once might just be enough for me! We did win a Gold Medal by the way (Daniel has it!)

This year I was once again working on an educational booth, this time for the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. We had an excellent team, and my contribution was a massive slide show highlighting the wonderful work of our members (here I have been caught pondering the finer points of screen resolution.)

This is part of the beautiful booth we built, which was masterminded and designed by friend and fellow designer Allison Olson. Her design and our hard work was awarded 'Best In Show' for educational booths. It was a great way for me to reconnect with the show again, especially since it was the first year at its new home, the San Mateo Event Center.

It was a chance conversation with the show producer's husband at this very booth six months ago that led to the opportunity I have with them today; I said if they ever needed help with the show to think of me. And they did. I'm really excited to see what happens next.

So what are you doing March 24-28 2010? This will be the show's 25th Anniversary, and it is going to be a great party! And if you know of any terrific gardening, green tech or green living companies that would be interested in being part of the action, send them here!


  1. Laura, not only do you look beautiful in your pictures but I commend you on such hard work. Hope you win another award for the booth.... its stunning!

  2. Hi Chloe, we built this booth for the show last March and did indeed win an award! Now I've been hired as an employee of the show, and hopefully will be able to help many many beautiful booths get built!

  3. Thanks for posting about the show! I just wrote it on my calendar so I won't forget. Sounds like a great thing to check out on the weekend!

  4. They are lucky to have you on board! I'll send some potential exhibitors your way. What a perfect gig for you.

  5. Daffodil, Thank you, I would love that! I've got a list as long as my arm of people that could benefit from the show, all suggestions and/ or introductions would be welcome.

  6. Nice work Laura. And congrats on the position. Sounds like the perfect gig for you! H.

  7. I want to go! It looks like fun! Congratulations!


    Color me totally PROUD! I LOVE garden shows! The theatricality of show gardens always resonates with me! I think nothing is as cool as when somebody really nails the essence of a show garden (which is VERY different from a real garden), captures the imagination, and sends it soaring. I am so happy that you are going to be involved with helping a wonderful event like the San Francisco Garden Show continue when so many others are folding. Kudos!

    I agree with you about moving forward - why we make gardens is very different now than it was years ago, and I think looking ahead to the creation of modern gardens is a great way to honor those who started the show.
    I've done a few show gardens, and REALLY enjoy the process, but it is very draining - physically, emotionally, financially ... and show producers can really help support the designer's creative process. The Los Angeles Arboretum tried time and again to have a garden show, but couldn't attract any designers of significance because there was no support structure. I know you are going to bring a great spirit to this incarnation of the show, and I can't wait to see what happens!
    That's my motto - run with it, Sistah!

  9. Laura how great to see you stepping up with the new staff! I can't wait to see where your inspiration wil go. I continue to be one of those serial crazies who does the show and look forward to working with you and the new staff. EnviroMagic 's entry will be Equipoise : return from the tipping point.

  10. Daniel, garden show compadre! I'm really looking forward to all the great connections and reconnections that will happen around this show! Did you know that the Crosley from our garden was the illustrating photo on the Crosley Wikipedia page? I didn't until I wrote this post, thought was was hysterical. I'll be in touch, my dear...

  11. How exciting! Congrats on the new opportunity! I'll have to see if I can head out there for the show!

  12. I will be there for sure!

    I think the new venue is great and can't wait to see how the show continues to evolve.

  13. Congratulations. The show's a strange and sort of fascinating thing. Should be interesting to help it evolve into its next iteration.