Home & Garden Show Tumbles Our Compost, Flashes Its Protea for Plant Lovers

Photography by Ryan Benoit

When the Spring Home & Garden Show rolled into town last weekend, we made a beeline for the Del Mar Fairgrounds and jumped right into the flower-hungry fray.

It was our first time at the exhibition. Initially fearing it would skew more “home” (that is, the dreaded contempo ’90s home) than garden, we were thrilled to find the place lousy with bromeliads and modern design. We trawled the stalls for over four hours, discovering South African protea in shades of neon, a chicken coop with a roof that grows wheatgrass, and a lineup of prize camellias that would have made Eudory Welty proud.

The vertical garden thing? Yes, it’s still at a critical mass — but with some ingenious variations that got us excited about the trend again. We also stumbled into some ocean-friendly landscaping, a seed bank selling heirloom Armenian cucumbers, and a sweet Swede with an innovative compost tumbler.

After hours of schlepping soil and brochures, we put our feet up on some cheerfully colored, Turkish-inspired outdoor seating designed by a new local company.

Read the full report below!

 

 

Too-funky-for-you Tillandsia funkiana

Too-funky-for-you Tillandsia funkiana

Nearby, a tray of waxy T. bulbosa.

Early in the day at the Beauti Florist booth we found the newest addition to our shade-plant family, a tank bromeliad with a fuchsia middle and a cupped crown for trapping water.

Early in the day at the Beauti Florist booth we found the newest addition to our shade-plant family, a tank bromeliad with a fuchsia middle and a cupped crown for trapping water.

At the San Diego Camellia Society, a few dozen blooms stopped us cold, including some spotted, asymmetrical lovelies.

At the San Diego Camellia Society, a few dozen blooms stopped us cold, including some spotted, asymmetrical lovelies.

 

The dazzling array included formal doubles whose stamen are completely shrouded by petals. Perfection, thy name is ‘Show Boat.'

The dazzling array included formal doubles whose stamen are completely shrouded by petals. Perfection, thy name is ‘Show Boat.’

Eugene Snooks of the San Diego Camellia Society reveals his favorites and his frustrations.

Eugene Snooks of the San Diego Camellia Society reveals his favorites and his frustrations.

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There was even parking for your plants.

 

Rushing the protea table.

Rushing the protea table.

At the California Protea Association, king protea mingle with wax flowers and tango pin and spider pin protea.

At the California Protea Association, king protea mingle with wax flowers and tango pin and spider pin protea.

 

There were also potted protea available for purchase, which are not expected to bloom until next year. We selected a 'Veldfire' for the edge of our flower bed.

There were also potted protea available for purchase, which are not expected to bloom until next year. We selected a ‘Veldfire’ for the edge of our flower bed.

We fell in love with Joraform, a Swedish compost tumbler with two compartments that allow you to harvest your finished compost while starting a new batch.

We fell in love with Joraform, a Swedish compost tumbler with two compartments that allow you to harvest your finished compost while starting a new batch.

Seed selecting at the San Diego Seed Company, which offers open-pollinated heirloom varieties including spectacular Armenian cucumbers. RB is working on a wall planter full of herbs, so we picked chives and a mesclun mix to plant ASAP.

Seed selecting at the San Diego Seed Company, which offers open-pollinated heirloom varieties including spectacular Armenian cucumbers. RB is working on a wall planter full of herbs, so we picked chives and a mesclun mix to plant ASAP.

 

Just hangin' with the bromeliads. The dedicated society meets on the second Saturday of every month at Balboa Park.

Just hangin’ with the bromeliads. The dedicated society meets on the second Saturday of every month at Balboa Park.

At the next booth, for the Cactus & Succulent Society of America, we bowed to the medusa euphorbia. Here, Peter Walkowiak provides the ID.

At the next booth, for the Cactus & Succulent Society of America, we bowed to the medusa euphorbia. Here, Peter Walkowiak provides the ID.

 

We are joining this man's fan club, stat.

We are joining this man’s fan club, stat.

An impeccable lithops in bloom.

An impeccable lithops in bloom. That day we learned that cactus masters can be somewhat secretive about their soil mixes. This one includes perlite and granite grit — but it’s not for sale.

We dug all the airplants that were in attendance, including this shaggy, silvery tillandsia, spotted at Dave's Backyard Tillandsia.  We'll be contacting Dave for the ID.

We dug all the airplants that were in attendance, including this shaggy, silvery tillandsia, spotted at Dave’s Backyard Tillandsia. We’ll be contacting Dave for the ID.

 

A tempting spread. We took home the big guy on the lower right — it's destined for a spot right next to our new tank bromeliad!

A tempting spread. We took home the big guy on the lower right — it’s destined for a spot right next to our new tank bromeliad!

We found a sassy monstrose, near center, which is known to form cracks in its skin right before it sprouts another limb.

We found a sassy monstrose, near center, which is known to form cracks in its skin right before it sprouts another limb.

 

Sleek, modern potters by Sage Outdoor Design.

Sleek, modern potters by Sage Outdoor Design.

Another stylish planter, this one by Amelia B. Lima.

Another stylish planter, this one by Amelia B. Lima.

Finding peace in small packages inside the bonsai booth.

Finding peace in small packages inside the bonsai booth.

 

Darling little snailshell hanging planters.

Darling little snailshell hanging planters.

Succulent mosiac.

Succulent mosaic.

 

C communes with nature (inside a cavernous exhibition space).

C communes with nature (inside a cavernous exhibition space).

A big trend this year is dune grass, which is interesting to see popping up in Southern California's favored xeriscapes.

A big trend this year is dune grass, which is interesting to see popping up in Southern California’s favored xeriscapes.

Clumps of sheep fescue canoodle with a golden Acacia zapatensis.

Clumps of sheep fescue canoodle with a golden Acacia zapatensis.

The Hercules aloe flexes for the camera.

The Hercules aloe flexes for the camera.

 

A deconstructed horizonal/vertical garden, if you will, by Eco Minded Solutions. Garden master: Barry Thau.

A deconstructed horizonal/vertical garden, if you will, by Eco Minded Solutions. Garden master: Barry Thau.

 

We enjoyed the installation's leafy multidimensionality, something we often miss with with vertical gardens.

We enjoyed the installation’s leafy multidimensionality, something we often miss with with vertical gardens.

 

Clearly, living walls are still going strong, but lately they're being softened by the abovementioned grasses and feathery evergreen trees.

Clearly, living walls are still going strong, but lately they’re being softened by the abovementioned grasses and feathery evergreen trees.

 

A bewitching octopus agave.

A bewitching octopus agave.

Yes, there was an Instagram element.

 

One of our favorite installations, by JCMS landscaping, featured a chicken coop with a wheatgrass roof.

One of our favorite installations, by JCMS landscaping, featured a chicken coop with a wheatgrass roof.

C ruffles some feathers.

C ruffles some feathers.

 

An endearing farm-to-table menu for your garden, courtesy of JCMS Landscaping.

An endearing farm-to-table menu for your garden, courtesy of JCMS Landscaping.

The ocean-friendly design of Falling Waters Landscape (in collaboration with Surfrider Foundation) won best in show.

The ocean-friendly design of Falling Waters Landscape (in collaboration with Surfrider Foundation) won best in show.

 

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Another ocean-friendly tip from Falling Waters Landscape and the Surfrider Foundation.

 

By the end of the day, our muscles were crying out for the lumbar-melding support of Hip Chik chairs, a new local company with seats and footstools inspired by Turkish outdoor furniture.

By the end of the day, our muscles were crying out for the lumbar-melding support of Hip Chik chairs, a new local company with seats and footstools inspired by Turkish outdoor furniture.

 

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  • disqus_bdHXehqbaX

    love the Medusa and the vertical garden for small spaces. Great pictures RB.

  • Shelli Nishino-Fayle

    OMG DROOOOOOOL!!!!!!!!! All those images make me miss Southern California SO MUCH!!!!!

  • disqus_Y86kxWZLks

    The “shaggy, silvery” tillandsia you are wondering about is spanish moss!