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Garden Show Del Mar

March 5, 2012

Modern setup

Attending the San Diego Home & Garden Show in Del Mar this weekend was a worthwhile experience … We got to hear and see a presentation on succulents by author Debra Lee Baldwin (fun, informative, inspiring), along with garden setups by local landscaping and design firms (interesting and inspiring). I’d never been to a show this large before and there was lots to see. There were numerous vendors selling everything from metal garden ornaments to hot tubs; along with tons of plants — mostly succulents and natives — at great prices. Current garden trends were well-represented and it was well-attended. I wish I’d been in a better mood but a painful sciatic nerve problem was nagging me and we skipped the home show entirely. Here’re the garden show sights, starting with the picture above: Just inside the entry a series of vignettes in various styles greeted us, including this modern one using classic Architectural Pottery from the locally-based firm of the same name.

Metal mixer

This vignette explores a metal theme that includes the shine of new galvanized tubs as planters and a garden art piece made of rusted steel that’s been brightly painted.

Urn overflow

A gigantic rusted-looking urn tries unsuccessfully to contain a garden’s worth of succulents. The crowning glory of the piece is a handsome-and-huge variegated agave.

Zen tones

Subtle colors, varied textures, bonsai-like plant material and bamboo — did somebody order Asian?

Juicy hang-ups

Another vignette showed a clever use for discarded industrial vents: as vertical succulent planters. Just pick your favorite color and hang it up! Only $75 to $125.


Next, we entered the show hall, where the garden set-ups and guest speaker presentations were being held. Besides being cavernous, this hall was really dark. This was an unexpected feature for me and I was frustrated by it; I would’ve loved to have been able to see the gardens and their details more clearly. Put on your night goggles, we’re going in …

Sleekly modern

This contemporary design ticked off all the current garden trend boxes: water feature, fire pit, seating areas, low-water plant choices and hardscape materials that included stone, concrete and gravel. Gabions (metal grid cages) filled with round river rocks served as the foundation for seating and walls, and was very attractive. Further au courant touches included tillandsias suspended in glass globes, designer patio furniture, succulents in rusted steel pipes as planters and an upended tree stump used as a container for colorful sedums.

Moroccan cool

This setup was all about minimalist Moroccan cool with simple forms in white stucco providing seating and privacy. Integrated into the wall at one end is a simple pipe fountain; a fire pit takes center stage in the same materials. Colorful pillows and ethnic fabrics continue the casbah feel and delicate white sand planted with grasses and succulents surrounds the oasis.

Handsome rustic

I loved this masculine and rustic setup that incorporated several of my favorite garden elements, including rusted items like an old tire rim as a fire pit and antique tools as decorative items. The designer also used to grand effect some amazing succulents like this striking multi-armed aloe tree, among others, and weathered driftwood-lookalike chairs. The gabion idea appears here in a less-geometric form: large-scale chicken wire painted blue encloses stacks of bricks to create bench seating. Love this look!

Funky fresh

The setup that was getting the most attention was helpfully labeled ‘OUTSIDE THE BOX’ in embroidery threaded letters on recycled painted wood. Set on multiple levels, this funky setup included among other cool touches: succulents in rusted metal pipes; tillandsias mounted on stucco; colorful powder-coated furniture; a bright red-orange vintage-style outdoor fireplace; an air-planted vintage bicycle basket, an outdoor theater, and a huge, rough-hewn bed-on-a-rope-swing. I overheard a contractor promise a viewer that he could build such a bed for her for $500 … I had to hold myself back from asking for his number …

Moon garden

Not all the setups were as trendy: this Asian inspired piece featured a massive wooden Japanese-style gate and included an enormous concrete flower.

Wader friendly

This setup was very water-focused, with pavers, furniture and candle-lit cylinders set into a wet, sunken patio. Covered overhead, walled on one side with foliage and surrounded by shrubs and grasses in planter boxes, I found this setup a head-scratcher.

Strange characters

My least favorite setup was this intricate and heavily-foliaged Wizard of Oz garden that included sculptures of the classic children’s book characters. The figures looked strange, the garden seemed like something out of the 1950s and the total effect was out-of-step amongst the succulents and water-conscious designs. Kids seemed to like it, however; I guess that was the point.

Exotic offerings

Outside in the plant vendor area, this booth caught my attention. Replete with all manner of exotic cactus and succulent, the prices were not outlandish … In fact one of the most spectacular examples on sale was also included in Debra Lee Baldwin’s presentation, to her surprise.


I’m glad we went to this home/garden show, I just wish I’d been feeling better … The location of the show, Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds, are literally a freeway exit away from the Solana Beach design district, so we took our leave and made a quick stop there before I gave up the ghost with leg pain … that’s the next post.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. March 5, 2012 5:56 am

    Thank you for the tour. Having been through the (equally dark) garden shows in Portland and Seattle last month it was interesting to see what San Diego is up to.

    Sorry to hear your enjoyment of the show was less than it could have been do to pain. I hope we won’t be reading something horrid in your next post.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 5, 2012 6:48 am

      Thanks, Loree … no, nothing horrid! ; )

  2. carol permalink
    March 5, 2012 7:01 am

    Wow! What a feast for the eyes. And so many ideas to absorb. I’ll be looking at this all week. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 5, 2012 1:07 pm

      Great, Carol … I just wish I could’ve shed more light on some of the setups but it was dark in there!

  3. March 5, 2012 7:15 am

    Thanks for posting photos of this show. We didn’t get to go, and I was feeling pretty bummed about it. Hope you’re feeling better.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 5, 2012 1:08 pm

      It was interesting; I’m feeling much better, too …

  4. Monica Felt permalink
    March 5, 2012 4:53 pm

    Lov’in it! Compared to the Northwest shows, Portland and Seattle, LA seems so much more sophisticated….of course there is much more money in landscaping in LA. The first photo
    reminded me of your recent blog about a car wash parking lot- though a tad more tasteful. Architectural Pottery huh? I’ll look that up. Thanks!!

  5. March 5, 2012 4:56 pm

    I’ve never been to this show, so thanks for the valiant effort at covering it. I’m still hoping to attend the SF show end of this month — if you can sit for six hours, let me know if you’re interested in carpooling 😉

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 5, 2012 5:00 pm

      Interesting idea, the carpooling … will get back to you, Denise!

  6. Vickie Perez permalink
    March 6, 2012 5:35 am

    I’ve heard that this show was great, now you’ve shown me that was the truth. Thanks again for your roadtrips.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 6, 2012 5:39 am

      It was worthwhile, I just wish someone woulda turned on the lights!

  7. March 7, 2012 6:59 pm

    My family and I always enjoy the garden show in Del Mar. There a lot of great ideas to take home and incorporate into our home as I’m sure a lot of other San Diego residents do too.

    Thanks for sharing the pictures. Many are inspirational.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 7, 2012 7:01 pm

      Thanks for commenting, Darren!

  8. March 11, 2012 4:57 am

    Wish I’d known this was going on as I was in Carlsbad and San Diego for the weekend. But I got to see Al Stewart (again) so that makes it all good! 🙂 Glad the pain has run its course.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 11, 2012 5:05 am

      Aw, sorry you missed it!

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