New owners breathe life into SF Flower & Garden Show |

New owners breathe life into SF Flower & Garden Show

Dick Tracy
Special to The Union

SAN MATEO- There were sharp differences of opinion on the quality of this year's San Francisco Flower and Garden Show at Tuesday evening's opening soiree.

One member of the media said this year's event, staged in the San Mateo Event Center, is, "four times better than last year's show." Another shook his head and insisted, "It's TEN times better! Our show is back!!"

In any case, the evaluations put smiles on the faces of the creative team, headed by Chris Woods, who staged the rejuvenation.

A somewhat weary Woods stood at the microphone acknowledging applause and joked, "Dick Turner (editor of Pacific Horticulture Magazine) convinced me to take this job, for which I'll never forgive him…"

Backtracking, the San Francisco show moved from the aging Cow Palace in Brisbane several years ago, leaving behind multiple problems with poor plumbing, poor food and poor neighborhood, but encountering others .

The Cow Palace arena was ideal for staging the gardens apart from the myriad commercial vendors. At San Mateo the gardens were amidst the vendors. The "aura" disappeared. This year, new owners pledged improvement.

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Woods, whose impressive resume includes 20 years as director of the famed Chanticleer Gardens in Pennsylvania, has made the vendors and garden designers all happy by creating a "Grand Allee" leading to the gardens.

Capturing "Best of Show" honors for the display gardens is, "Vintage California" created by Terra Ferma Landscapes of South San Francisco.

Employing grapevine trimmings to create a "vine sphere" through which visitors pass walking on "recycled bottle medallion paving" the display is inspired by Northern California's countryside.

"It's almost sad we have to name one garden better than the others," Woods acknowledges, "because they're all so close in quality."

Another exhibit, created by famed California landscaper and author John Greenlee, was not entered in the competition, but promises to be a show stopper and mind bender on using various grasses in home landscapes.

In addition to display gardens and stimulating offerings by vendors (including a booth for Copper Gardens, of Rough & Ready) the show offers an abundance of garden lore and creativity at free workshops and symposiums.

Everything you need to know on the show – which continues through Sunday – is on its web page at or by telephoning (415) 684-7278.

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