Southern California Spring Garden Show 2014

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I went first thing yesterday.  Usually the first hour or two is quiet, and I can zip through before the madding crowd arrives.  Yesterday it was mobbed from the start.  The first speaker was one of those reasonably cute guys from HGTV--maybe that was the reason.  
Couldn't get in to see John Giddings:
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While that was going on I went and looked at the display gardens.  Yes, its time for some badly photographed display garden pictures.
Gardens, Dude!  And beer!
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I'd call This Year's Trend, "Mediterranean Zen"--succulents and other low-water plants were 90% of the palette, but they were styled in a slightly different way--zen-ish, call it--more spare, more formal, plus Buddha statues.
The roof of the structure was the cool thing in this display.
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The cool bit: 
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A Japanese Maple vendor made a display garden with potted trees, wood texture pavers, and a metal sculpture or two.  It was elegantly simple.
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Doing these display gardens is very difficult and very expensive, so I won't laugh at those Diffenbachias stuck in that fountain to hide something.  I want to, but I won't.
Who pruned that Arbutus?
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What I liked about this next display was that the trees and larger shrubs were uplit.  I love uplit trees.  The effect doesn't show up in the photo.  The garish quality of the led-lit fountain unfortunately does.
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Gorgeous Adenium specimen, that.
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Cool plant--Acacia?
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The display by a local community college wasn't that much different than last year (are those the same pillows?), but it was nicely done: a wooden deck with succulent planters and a screen of conifers.  It resembled an actual small garden.
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Making a planter look like a California Mission was trying a little too hard.  More abstracted better?  Plants are nice, though.
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This last one was a simple rectangle with some roses and boxwood with two horrific queen palms for height.  Oy.
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The real Fail of the show:  one of the display gardens--I disremember which--unfortunately had mulch that smelled very strongly and piercingly of animal manure.  Ooops.
As to the plant vendors,  lots of the small common succulents, orchids for Mother's Day gifts, several bromeliad booths.  This guy from Ricardo's in Long Beach had some nice stuff for good prices.  I'm not familiar with Ricardo's but the plants looked good and the selection was interesting.  
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Two different sellers had this fountain.  What I liked how it mimicked the behavior of real crows--so often I've seen a pair perched together, squawking at something.  Didn't like the construction quality, though.
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At that point I really needed a break from the mob.
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I walked out over the "Bridge Of Gardens", the failed attempt at an innovative overpass-as-garden.  Either they didn't have the budget to really make it a garden, or the city said "no" for some reason.  Boxwood and odd plant combinations (Hydrangeas and succulents--seriously?) do not a garden make.  It's also a big smoker's haven.  Yecch. 
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Ah, some peace and quiet. 
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On the way back to the car, glancing at offerings by one of the many succulent sellers, expecting the usual jade plants, standard sedums, and hybrid echeverias, I suddenly realized he had some rarities.  Perhaps it was good the place was so mobbed because I screeched when I saw this, and grabbed:
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Yeah.  And this--not super rare but not common, and a great price, and it has an offset.
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Garden shows can surprise, sometimes.
 Didn't have time to paint that metal a more subdued color?
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When I got home I realized I missed seeing Dan Hinkley, who was the speaker following the HGTV guy.  Arggghh!!!! 
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  1. These shows always disappoint me, although I admit I've never been to a really large one. So you're not a fan of vibrant water lighting? How do you feel about bright glass mulch then? :)

    1. There was one demo garden with bright blue glass mulch. Notice how many pictures I took of it?

      It's fun to people watch at these things. You can spot plant-nerds a mile away. Much better vibe than the plastic-surgery dyed blonde Newport Beach crowd.

  2. Well done for grabbing the agave albopilosa. Will you give it any special treatment, or will be put out with the rest once a little bigger?

    1. The seller said to let it double in size (to 4") and then "do with it what you will". I'll put it somewhere in the ground where I can see it but no one else can.

  3. I'm on board for the beer.

    1. GUI? Gardening Under the Influence? Hey, I think I'm on board for that, too.

  4. I went early yesterday (Friday). The good news is that it wasn't crowded (apparently the woman from Sunset magazine was less of a draw than Gidding) but I was terribly disappointed by the display gardens. I usually go mainly to see if the plant sellers have anything interesting but, really, why can't South Coast/Sunset attract gardeners/landscapers that can do something interesting with what is, admittedly, the small space the venue provides? Maybe the organizers would do better to reduce the number of displays still further but grant them more space.

    1. Those display gardens are really hard to do, and expensive as well--it's really rather a feat that there are any display gardens at all. Imagine moving several tons of fragile stuff by hand from a truck several hundred yards away in the middle of the night and having it all in place unbroken within a few hours. I thought the OCC one, student work(!) was very well done. It looked like an actual tasteful small garden space. It wasn't Patrick Blanc, but Costa Mesa ain't Paris, either.

  5. I just can't get used to the idea of a garden show in a mall. I know our convention center show locations are exactly inspired but they're not "the mall"...

    Glad you found a couple of good little plants, at least it wasn't a wasted trip.

    1. I'm so thrilled there is even a garden show to attend, I never notice "the mall" part.

  6. I go for the I know why it was so crowded first thing Thursday morning! Maneuvering my fold up plant dolly was not so easy. Lots of cactus and succulents not normally found in local shops. I also wish there were more displays to ogle. There were less vendors too. Went home with way more goodies than planned, as always. Yay!

    1. Quite a good selection of Epi cuttings--I was tempted! What'd ya get? What'd ya get? :^)

  7. Hahaha! Last year I went epi crazy....loving results this year (I share!) I really don't need anymore plants but who can resist! Best buy? A native Wooly Blue Curls (trichostemma lanatum).....gorgeous furry curly ball shape flowers more purple than blue. Best part is when the leaves are rubbed - smells like Bazooka Joe bubblegum!

    1. I've been meaning to try the Wooly Blue Curls myself--enjoy! :)

  8. I saw Ricardo's van in the parking structure and then the plants stand at the show. After googling I see they've been a couple miles from me since 2007. Who knew? Must pay him a visit...


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