by germinatrix | April 26th, 2010
I went to the San Francisco Garden Show this past March – and what an extravaganza (my favorite word, yes – but it is really applicable here!) it was! William my formidable Video Minion and I drove up to SF from LA and had a great time looking at gardens and meeting people – the resulting video is an ode to the wonderful garden bloggers and tweeters we met there. I hadn’t met ANY of them before, and when I saw the video I was amazed to see that we greeted each other like long-lost old friends – because, in fact, we kind of are. We’ve been admiring each other’s work, reading each other’s thoughts about landscaping and life, and having riotous fun tweeting away afternoons filled with gardening double entendres. I adore them!
Laura Livengood Schaub (our fearless leader), Rebecca Sweet, Jayme Jenkins, Debra Lee Baldwin, Christina Salwitz, Susan Morrison (who eluded my camera somehow, but she WAS there and I HUGGED her!), Laura Mathews, Shirley Bovshow, Alice Joyce, Adriana Martinez, Fern Richardson, Katie Elzer-Peters, Miriam Goldberger, Billy Goodnick, Judy Maier, Elayne Takemoto, Jenni Nybro Peterson – this is for all of you who have created a vibrant community I am SO proud to be a part of!
And a special shout out to Rich Radford who Lifted the Armadillo – DROOL!
Now about the video – I am snarky. I know. But I wanted to make it clear that there was a garden I liked VERY much, and a garden I REALLY couldn’t get on board with.
While I had alot of fun saying “Post-Apocalyptic” over and over and OVER, and made a little fun of the golden armadillo – I really enjoyed Rich Radford’s meditation on what would happen to gardens left alone – “Re-Generation”. (OKAY everybody who was there KNOWS he’s a FOX and I must have “interviewed” him seven times, but that had absolutely NOTHING to do with my discerning garden eye for good garden work!) While I could have done without the metal animals, I loved the corten steel lean-to adorned with rusty chains and a fabulous roof ‘hair-do’ of fescue , as well as the wonderfully textural planting that showed a restrained hand as well as a love of texture. Of all the gardens I saw, THIS was the one I could see in a real home. The hardscape was simple and chic, and it was a garden a homeowner could actually LIVE in rather than WORK in.
Now, I know that show gardens are fantasies – I’ve done a few, and I LOVE how theatrical they are. I like that designers reach, explore, and inspire – but too many are tricked out to the point of kitsch. (And to that Amanda Thompson of Kiss My Aster would say “Give it to me!” ). I think that even when pushing our boundaries, we still should adhere to certain principles of good design. We should show people that good work ISN’T about shoving everything you like into one space and calling it “GREAT!”. Alot of our work is wise editing. I’ve had to talk people OUT of more stuff than I’ve talked them into! Please don’t make my job harder, show designer all hopped up on possibilities! But if you MUST, then knock yourself out. This is just my taste, my opinion.
I was EXTRA snarky about a garden that might surprise some people, because it was an “art” garden, and most know that I’m fairly passionate about art, that my husband is an art critic, and that I’ve worked with several artists in my design practice. But I have a very uneasy relationship to “art” when used in a garden setting. This is too big a topic to get into here – I’m going to have to address this in a separate blog post. Suffice it to say that I felt that Keeyla Meadow’s garden REALLY needed a big dose of restraint. I loved the plants – WHO WOULDN’T – but they were deployed in a very patchy way; creating a sense of mass and repetition would have helped tremedously. But I could’ve dealt with the way the plants were used if the hardscape didn’t add an extra level of frenetic activity – in the end, there was no place for the eye to rest and make sense of the space. Her thing is color – and J’ADORE color – but using EVERY color in one small space in the planting AND in the hardscape AND in extra ornamental features (I can’t use the word “art”) just creates way TOO MUCH for this designer to get behind. Sorry! I know LOTS of people loved this garden – it won the silver medal- but I do think it could have used an editing eye. Not all “art” is automatically good. Nor is it automatically “art”. Hence the term “extra ornamental features”. I’ve seen images of Keelya meadow’s other work, and I really like some of it – but I have to be honest. For me, this was a big miss.
Exuberance – YES!!! But we have to add some restraint to our impulses, we have to craft it and work it – THAT is the “art” in what we do, in my opinion.
I had the BEST time at this show – I learn so much by looking carefully at what others do, and everyone who participated really gave it to us with alot of heart. The biggest heart has to be the one beating in the chest of Laura Livengood Schaub. Because of her, this show became a mecca for the west coast blog brigade (and even some from North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and even CANADA!). She is a force to be reckoned with, and is totally a Rock Star.
The video is dedicated to her …
XOXO The Germinatrix