Garden like the pros
By Annie Spiegelman, the Dirt Diva
The San Francisco Flower and Garden Show is turning 30 years old in March. If you haven’t been there in the past, you must go visit this paradise of earthly treasures. The 2016 theme is “Discovery.” You’ll stroll through a dozen stunning designer gardens with artfully arranged plants, trees and flowers in full bloom. You’ll be able to choose from more than 100 free seminars and hands-on workshops on timely topics such as growing your own food, backyard beekeeping and creating gorgeous succulents in containers. In between chatting with plant experts, you’ll be tempted and taunted by thousands of plants calling out to you, “Take me home. Save me! Don’t leave me … ” Come join me, fellow hortiholics, and stock up on a plethora of new drought-tolerant plants!
After a one-year hiatus, Slow Flowers and Debra Prinzing are back for a return engagement at the Flower Pavilion Stage. What are “Slow Flowers?” In 2014, Prinzing began a unique and indispensable online directory called Slow Flowers (slowflowers.com). It lists florists, studio designers, wedding and event planners, supermarket floral departments and flower farmers who are committed to using American-grown flowers. She’s invited a talented lineup of Slow Flowers floral artists to share their expertise on seasonal and locally-grown flowers at the show.
Ariella Chezar, author of The Flower Workshop, Teresa Sabankaya of The Bonny Doon Garden Company, Kit Wertz of Flower Duet, Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers and Terri Lynn Heath and Jennifer Ketring of Coastal Posies on the Mendocino Coast will be demonstrating a plethora of floral arrangements from locally grown wild flower bouquets to creating garlands from native plants.
Besides the imaginative floral arranging workshops, there are so many informative horticulture seminars to attend. Since succulents are the latest ‘it girl’ in gardening, don’t miss the two sessions given by succulent expert, Debra Baldwin; Smart and Lovely Succulent Landscapes and Creative Succulent Container Gardens. (“Landscapes” is scheduled for Wednesday, March 16 and “Containers” on Thursday, March 17.) Hailed as the “Queen of Succulents” by Sunset magazine, Baldwin is the author of Succulent Container Gardens, Designing with Succulents and Succulents Simplified. I have all three of these books and they’re all dream- and drool-worthy. Baldwin is an exceptional plant photographer and will pull you right into her magical world. (Oh, if only we could stay in her splendid succulent ecosphere and never have to hear the name Trump again … )
Bay Area garden expert, author and farm educator Benjamin Eichorn’s seminar titled Edible Gardening Basics will cover the most basic edible gardening tasks that every gardener needs to know: Cultivating the soil, transplanting, harvesting and composting. Having co-managed Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard garden for four years before founding Grow Your Lunch (growyourlunch.com) in 2010, Eichorn is full of knowledge to share—and he is not hard on the eyes to watch. (Did I say that!? Hell yeah.) Check it out on Friday, March 18 at 2:15pm.
On Sunday, March 20, Southern California author and photographer Bonnie Jo Manion will take you to magical Provence with her seminar titled Bringing Provence to your Home and Garden. Here in California we share a Mediterranean climate. Learn how to bring this earthy, yet sophisticated Provence lifestyle to your home, garden and kitchen.
The Bee-Friendly Garden author, Kate Frey, will be talking about bees on Wednesday, March 16. Planting pollinator gardens not only ensures that your vegetables, flowers and fruit trees are pollinated, but can help perpetuate native species who depend on pollination (more than 70 percent of the world’s plants!) The good news is that the same flowers that offer pollen and nectar rewards to bees also make us happy. Though many of us think of honeybees when we think of pollinators, there are 4,000 species of native bees in the U.S. This presentation will offer an overview of a few of the common groups and their life cycles, and show examples of gardens that foster pollinators.
For 20 years, Frey designed and managed the famous edible gardens at Fetzer Vineyards in California. She currently works as a consultant, designer, educator and a freelance writer, specializing in gardens and small farms with an ecological focus.
Last, have you been thinking of breaking up with your lawn? On Saturday, March 19, Santa Cruz-based landscape designer Nicole Woodling Douglas will show you how to effectively redesign the space with a mini-course called Lose Your Lawn! Water-wise Design Strategies. This includes the actual physical lawn removal, advice on how to select high-impact functional alternatives to plant, design and plant tips and lots of advice sprinkled throughout. I broke up with my thirsty, demanding, needy front lawn 10 years ago and have never looked back. You can do it. No more enabling!
San Francisco Flower and Garden Show 2016, Wednesday, March 16 through Saturday, March 19, 10am-7pm, and Sunday, March 20, 10am-6pm, San Mateo Event Center, 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo; sfgardenshow.com.