Everybody's a Critic

What She Said.

Genevieve Schmidt and I took a road trip to San Francisco last week for the garden show.  She's done such a good job summing the whole thing up on her blog that I have little to add, except to say:

Lettuce

The lettuce hanging in tubes thing?  It was the subject of much debate during our post-show sangriafest at Cha Cha Cha Cuba (which, by the way, is definitely the place to go after the show). There were about 15-20 of us around the table, and opinions were split between those who thought that garden shows should offer practical demonstrations so as not to confuse the easily confused neophyte gardeners, and those who thought that lettuce growing in tubes and suspended in an interested geometric pattern was–well–interesting.  Besides, where else are you going to do a large-scale horticultural conceptual art project?

I fall into the second group.  I approve of the lettuce in tubes.

Here is what I most certainly do NOT approve of:

Gardenshow

This hideous display garden was really just an excuse to show off the sort of hardscaping that suburban homeowners with more money than taste might regard as being Tuscany-like and therefore worth spending a great deal of money on.  But apparently, once they got it built,they realized that it needed some plants, too, what with it being a garden show!  So somebody must have run out to Home Depot and bought — well, whatever.  It was the most absurd hodgepodge of incompatible and unrelated plants I've ever seen.  In the bed to the right was a Japanese maple with a planting of kalanchoes underneath it, gerbera daisies planted next to rhododendrons, lavender and chrysanthemum tucked in next to each other–really, it was ridiculous.  Absurd.  And not at all high concept, abstract plant art, just ignorant nonsense. 

Or wait.  Maybe it was high concept plant art!  Is it possible that the whole point of the project was to elicit scorn from gardeners? A way of commenting on the comments? Some sort of postmodern, meta display in which the real display was not the display, but the gardeners mocking the display?

Anyway, The Mockery of a Garden won a lot of medals, for reasons I'll never understand.

See more on Gen's blog (and thanks, Gen, for the photos) and also check out this video from Theresa Loe, who was hard at work documenting the show while I barely managed to snap a picture.

 

    

 

Posted by on March 30, 2011 at 5:26 am, in the category Everybody's a Critic.
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17 Responses to “What She Said.”

  1. Ha! That odd selection of plants was a very meta concept indeed. Meta always hurts my head, though. It’s kind of like looking into the hall of mirrors. Seems about as sensible, too.

  2. I’m on your side Amy and would approve of the high tech lettuce art. How has it become so p.c. in the gardening world that everyone is required to protect the newbies, the ignorant and the lazy from their own stupidity. It reminds me of politicians talking about saving the children and makes me want to hurl.

    We are becoming a nation of fools because we dumb everything down to cater to the idiots. It would be better to force them to stretch their imaginations and the limits of their knowledge.

  3. I was in your camp too Amy with the lettuce display. It was interesting and thinking outside of the box, which is okay by me. I really don’t think any newbies were going to run out and try it at home…in their living room or anything.

    And thank you very much for the shout out on my video!

  4. shira says:

    Will be spending this entire season un-doing “tuscan-like” at our new home. ugh.

  5. trey says:

    And people wonder why attendance is declining at garden and flower shows.

  6. Kate says:

    Haha! As always, your viewpoint is so refreshing. Every year at the Boston show I spy a few of the latter type of display. I am one of those scornful spectators, but it seems as though there are usually many more people interested in buying these ones. (It breaks my heart!)

    I guess I feel this way because I come primarily as a spectator, to learn and to be inspired. Other people see it primarily as a market place. I wish there was some way of effectively meshing those two concepts together in a tasteful way.

  7. Lisa, Ontario says:

    I think the hanging lettuce is great! Kudos to whoever dreamed that up. When I go to a garden show, I enjoy both, gardens that give me some usable ideas for my own space, and abstract art pieces. But then again I enjoy competing in floral display competitions.

    But goodness, didn’t the show organizers have any say in what goes on? That silly statue with bad plant arrangements should never have happened.

  8. I loved the hanging lettuce but it didn’t really hold my attention for very long. And I HATED the Home Depot plant garden. My dad loved it because it had that fancy bar with the built in bbq or whatever.

    Overall I was a little disappointed with the plant selection, although there were a couple of gardens that I thought hit it out of the park. I still have the flier from the Pi r Squared garden sitting on my desk with the Mediterranean/succulent action in the big recycled culvert things. That was a spectacular design with an incredibly well-chosen and sculptural display of plants. The ASU Tempe one had some fun plants too but nothing like the layout of the Pi r Squared guys.

    Also, I love the ones that realized they could probably stand to have a path with an entrance and an exit instead of just a dead end to shuffle around awkwardly.

    Trends I liked? Lots of good use of heucheras, ceanothus and I spotted a couple of places using Australian fuchsias that were at least fun and different.

  9. The take away ideas at garden shows are the main reason I go too. I want to be inspired and come home with tons of photos, notes and sketches to try in my backyard. And although I like a few over the top ideas, I do not enjoy going to a show where there is nothing I can duplicate in my own backyard.

    And don’t even get me started on that Home Depot-style garden. You will notice it is NOT in my video of inspiring take aways. Geeze!

  10. Town Mouse says:

    Well, I thought the hanging lettuce would have been great for an art show. A great way to add something alive to the domain where concrete, metal, and plastic reign. For a garden show? Not so much.

    I thought the was truly boring. I’ve seen front gardens like that, 6×8 bunch grasses, arranged in straight lines. Please…

  11. Katie says:

    Ugh—so tired of the manufacture hardscape look–particularly at flower shows. Yes, we know every man {woman} and his/her truck can build a concrete wall….but can you build a beautiful landscape that catches my eye?

    THAT’s what I want to see. The lettuce tubes catch your eye–now I’m intrigued–and now I’ll investigate further.

    Great post
    kk

  12. Michelle D says:

    Lettuce on an I.V drip – entertaining, fun , arty an unique.
    The garden by Seville Landscaping , aka The Home Depot Garden caused a multitude of emotions.
    The first thing that I saw was the horrific cast bronze sculpture. After that I couldn’t bring myself to even walk into the exhibit.
    But after a few hours my partner who is an architect encouraged me to further investigate. This is what I found : Pedestrian design geared towards a specific social economic market and ‘top notch craftsmanship’. You can’t take away the fact that this Construction Firm ( Not a Design Firm) knows how to hand craft with a variety of stones and wood.
    The hardscape construction was flawless.
    The horticultural craftsmanship was totally awful.
    So if you were looking for a high end custom craftsman/ contractor to build your project this is was certainly a building contractor to consider.
    This was NOT a firm that has an innovative landscape designer on staff.
    The awards that he received were for quality craftsmanship from the CLCA , a contractors association.
    Now on the flip side, I saw MANY POORLY constructed exhibits but the overall design intent was good to very good. As a consumer I would hire them to design for me but wouldn’t allow them to lift a mason’s chisel to construct the project.
    As a former exhibitor and judge, these are things you look for when counting up the points and handing out the awards.

  13. Benjamin says:

    Anti Tuscany? Like anti language. Makes me thing of language poets who condemn traditional meaning, thus making a new kind meaning, thus negating everything they worked for and being stuck back at the beginning. Meaninglessly meaningful.

  14. I’m glad to see the Home Depot garden won for hardscaping and construction, Michelle, they did a brilliant job in that dept. It was a perfect fit for a lot of the newer more expensive houses you see down here. And the unoriginal plant choices are about par for the course down here, too ;)

  15. Claire Splan says:

    I thought the show this year seemed particularly heavy on hardscape (no pun intended) rather than plants or, um, style. I saw quite a few nice bits in most of the demo gardens, but as far as I was concerned, overall, they were underwhelming.

    As for the hanging lettuce, I was glad to see some hydroponics brought into the show, although the Ah Sam Florist garden showed that hydroponics don’t have to look like a crazy lab experiment. It can actually look like a garden.

  16. Elizabeth S. says:

    I went to the show and upon seeing the “Plant Lab” display, I was immediately reminded of that bad horror flick from 1978, “Coma.”

    Here’s a link to the photo/screenshot that made me think of the movie upon seeing all those plants suspended.

    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3830355968/tt0077355

  17. James says:

    The “Tuscan garden”…at least it was colorful wasn’t it, in a let’s pull some clothes out of the closet in the dark kind of way?

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