Saturday, April 27, 2013

South Coast Spring Garden Show

For several years I've routinely attended the Spring Garden Show held at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.  Yes, this garden show is set up in a shopping mall.  Actually, this works for me as I can often get even my non-gardening friends to come along.

This year's show runs from Thursday, April 25th, though Sunday, April 28th.  I attended on Friday with one friend but will be back with 3 others tomorrow as I wasn't able to line everyone up for the same date.  That's also fine with me as it gives me time to deliberate as to certain purchases.

The showcase gardens are on the first floor.  Every year there's a central display along the lines of a small Rose Parade float.  I thought this year's construction, dedicated to Andy Warhol, was less impressive than the offerings in prior years.  The centerpiece was a facsimile of Warhol's tribute to Botticelli's Venus, constructed of a mix of paint and floral materials (dehydrated safflower, red bell pepper, carrot flakes, strawflowers, Vanda orchids, lilies, heliconias, and chive and flax seeds).  The picture is stacked on top of other "canvases" made up of various flowers.

Center display designed and constructed by Fiesta Parade Floats

There were 9 other exhibits, only a few of which I found really interesting.  The first of these was a vertical garden depicting Van Gogh's 'Starry Night,' created by the San Antonio College Horticulture Club.  Unfortunately, the lighting was bad and I was unable to get a good picture.  The 'Art of Exterior' by the Garden Gallery featured statuary and interesting lighting features settled in among Nandina, Japanese Maples and other foliage plants.

The next exhibit, entitled ''Thoughts in a Garden,' was very unusual.  Before I tell you who created it, let me show it to you.  Maybe you'll pick out what's odd about it before it did.

A stream, made of glass and bounded by rocks and logs, flows from a bowl.  A stone path leads down the middle with trees and other foliage on either side.

There's a clue in this picture.  Do you see it?

The plaque shown in this picture identifies the garden's purpose

This exhibit was constructed by Fairhaven Memorial Park to advertise burial plots placed in a garden setting.  In addition to the plaque shown in the last picture, there are empty spaces for other plaques in some of the other stones.  There was a woman on hand handing out business cards who chatted me up.  I told her that the setting was certainly nicer than the Forest Lawn memorial park where my parents and grandmother are buried.  She suggested, not particularly subtly, that I might want to consider making my own arrangements with Fairhaven.  I moved along.

The next exhibit, 'Tunnels,' by Garden Pros Landscape, had a large, curving wood deck.  Wood chairs, backed by a subtle water feature, were surrounded by succulents.

The back wall of the wood deck, which curved up and over the deck itself, was covered with Bougainvillea

Seating area in the interior of the deck

Adjacent lounge chairs, set in rocks and backed by a short water wall

The last exhibit I'll share was probably my favorite.  It was called 'An Architectural Garden Inspired by Environmental Art & Natural Forms' and was the production of Orange Coast College students.  There was a lot of wood in this one too and, because of its open structure, it was particularly challenging to photograph.

Small planting boxes were placed at different levels throughout the seating structure

I loved the veined Coleus shown in this picture but, sadly, didn't find any for sale among the vendors

The second and third levels of the mall were blanketed with vendors, 75 in all according to the show guide.  I'll provide a sampling of their wares in a future post.


  1. Wow, seriously? A cemetery at a garden show...THAT is a new one. I hope it's an isolated incident.

    1. I have to say that I vacillated between disgust and grudging acknowledgement of a creative, if misguided, marketing strategy. In the land of "the real housewives of Orange County," maybe it wasn't a major leap.

  2. I liked the wood bench and planting boxes too. While there are some nice displays and I don't mind designers promoting their skills, this show seems a bit too much like an infomercial sales pitch.

    1. Well, I'm afraid that South Coast Plaza is a citadel of conspicuous consumer consumption - rivaling even Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, in my opinion - so perhaps this development shouldn't have come as a surprise.

  3. Oh please-don't let the CT funeral homes know it's OK to buy exhibit space at a garden show!

    The coleus looks like Fishnet Stockings. An annual here but soon to be widely available.

    1. Interestingly, most of my friends missed the connection to memorial services until I pointed it out, at which point they were disgusted. If Fairhaven's venture doesn't generate much in the way of sales, the idea will probably die off (pun intended). I did see a guy in a suit and tie (not at all the dress of the landscapers at the other exhibits) chatting away to visitors this afternoon on my return visit so they're definitely working it.