louis martin
cns news & features

Fort Mason, San Francisco--

The Spring landscape garden show in San Francisco offered something for everyone, and for those who like Summer it offered that as well.

Though held indoors at the Herbst and Festival pavilions at Fort Mason, it featured both indoor and outdoor plants. Both native and non-native California plants were on display.

Although somewhat muggy inside the old warehouses on the docks at Fort Mason, an afternoon breeze on Sunday brought refreshment into the pavilions where beer, wine, coffee, and hot dogs were sold to a large and, as expected, orderly crowd of plant lovers. If the SFPD was watching over Fort Mason, they were concentrating their efforts on other parts.

Exhibitors, such as Visual Scapes Inc., featured both native and non-native plants. Redwood and pine graced an exhibit of showy hybrid flowering plants.

From the Native Revival nursery from Aptos came all natives, featuring California Wild Lilac, Blue Dicks, and more.

Some exhibitors chose to specialize. Heady varieties such as roses, Rhododendrons, and irises had their own displays. The American Rhododendron Society had a vast and colorful display of those large "Greek roses" that can grow up to fifteen feet tall.

The biggest attention grabber among the Rhododendrons was undoubtedly the Markeet's Prize with its intense red, trumpet-shaped flowers, but also among the exhibit was a small, white oriental variety, Kiusianum Alba. As pointed out by Mary Wildavsky of the American Rhododendron Society, the latter's leaves are more round in shape than the typical elongated leaf of the Rhododendrons.

Bearded and beardless irises had their own area of display at the show, and as the literature pointed out, the beardless variety needs to be planted in the Fall, as opposed to late Summer for the bearded variety.

A striking show was put on by the Luther Burbank Home & Gardens of Santa Rosa--striking because it was both colorful and edible-looking. Burbank, the famed horticulturist who made his home in Santa Rosa for over fifty years, introduced over 800 new varieties of plants. As a breeder of plants, one of his main goals was to increase the world's foods supply. That goal seemed to be well reflected in the display, which looked much like a country salad.

In addition to plants on display, the San Francisco Water Department was represented at a booth where gardeners were urged to conserve water with low-flow watering systems. Attendance was somewhat down at this booth where only literature was on display. At a nearby booth, the general public was urged to get involved in neighborhood tree planting projects.

The show is good for business. Landscape contractor Ralph Wood of Visual Spaces Inc. said he gets a lot of business from the show. Exhibitors pay to show their goods, and there is a plant sale after the show.

But it is a day of just plain, old-fashioned fun as well. Outside the pavilions, boats skim across the bay, sails bulging in the wind, and above on the grass kids play ball while parents lounge on towels spread under a warm Summer sun.



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