Like last year, a lot of the displays had very tenuous connections to the garden.
|This display, entitled "The Garden as Art," featured furniture and other items that couldn't survive outside in the garden even in our mild climate. Two raised planters featuring succulents were the only nods to the garden.|
|This "Modern Farmhouse" was also represented as an outdoor space but it didn't look to me as though the furniture would hold up to sun and rain. I liked the rustic wood wall and the hanging lanterns, though.|
Some exhibitors made more of an effort to interest gardening aficionados.
|This display was entitled "Awaken the Senses" and used herbs to surround a sitting area for morning coffee. I liked the espaliered trees in pots that made up the walls of the enclosure.|
|This "Cosmic Garden" offered a limited plant palette of succulents and grasses but the water feature was interesting. A large round hole in the wood enclosure surrounding the dining table mimicked the fountain's curve at the other end.|
My favorite displays were these:
The display at the mall's center featured hummingbirds. I didn't take note of the builder but, in past years, these centerpieces have been constructed by some of the same companies that build the annual Pasadena rose parade floats.
Potter Mark Muradian, missing last year when the mall dramatically reduced the number of vendors invited to the show, was back this year with his fabulous creations.
|Muradian is a Fresno, California based farmer who creates unique pottery on the side. He sells his pots only through special event shows. Of the four he mentioned, the South Coast Plaza show is the only one anywhere close to me.|
The vendors didn't fill the top two levels of the mall as they've done in the past but there were some interesting displays.
|Rain Shadow Designs offers pristine succulent specimens but they tend to be pricey, as evidenced by the tag on that beautiful Agave 'Snow Glow' (upper left)|
|Ricardo's Nursery operates out of Long Beach, not too far from me. I didn't buy anything from him this year but I have in the past and I'm planning a trip to his nursery one day soon.|
|Sticky Situations had a nice display of cactus and succulents, which included photos of what the plants look like in bloom|
|Table 2 Garden had some nice succulent displays but they were also pricey. I did like the arrangement in the middle featuring a dried artichoke.|
Still, I went home with just one item.
|My new Muradian pot|
I may not be representative of the visitor traffic South Coast Plaza is trying to attract with this show but I remain disappointed with the retail-focused approach they've taken the past two years. It may be sufficient to attract local residents but there's not enough focus on gardens and gardening to encourage me to drive an hour each way to attend. In prior years, I've made a day of this trip, friends in tow, visiting the mall's retailers as well as the "botanical pop-up shops," as the mall's publicity referred to the garden displays and vendors. I'm no longer sure the event is even worth the gasoline to get there and the friends who formerly attended with me (and spent money in the local stores) aren't interested in the trip either.
All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party