Gargantuan greenery at SF flower show 

click to enlarge San Francisco Flower and Garden Show
  • Courtesy photo
  • Los Gatos designer Brent Sumner, who created this fanciful dragon garden, is working on a garden inspired by the film “Avatar” for the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show.
Believe it or not, the Bay Area is home to the third-largest garden show in the United States.

The 29th annual San Francisco Flower and Garden Show, which opens Wednesday in San Mateo, features a dizzying array of action in the 200,000-square-foot space.

The show’s main attractions are dazzling gardens created by garden and landscape designers; a marketplace with some 250 vendors; and 150 speakers discussing horticulture, floral arranging, urban homesteading, home gardening and more.

On Friday, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence host a floral-themed LGBT night, including a best headdress contest.

With the drought on everyone’s mind, the show is highlighting displays that exhibit cutting-edge innovation in low-water gardening and sustainable cultivation. The 200-foot-long “Grand Allee” — the main walkway to showcase garden exhibits — is planted with drought-tolerant trees, succulents and native California plants that have evolved to handle low-water ecosystems.

Other show gardens include a yurt display, a sustainable rooftop garden, a drought-tolerant shade garden, an exotic verdant paradise inspired by “Captain Nemo,” an agave plant garden, a fantasy garden inspired by the Pandora gardens in the film “Avatar” and a boatyard garden using repurposed deck wood.

Hot topics among the 150 seminars are backyard chicken keeping, urban beekeeping, DIY wedding flowers, terrarium-making, succulent management, vertical and container gardening, and farm-to-table discussions for foodies. There is even an iPhone plant photography lecture.

Known for his lush, naturalistic arrangements for Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, designer Max Gill speaks on Wednesday about using sustainable, foraged resources to make incredible flower and table decorations.

Anyone with a landscaping predicament is welcome to stop by the “Ask a Designer Booth.” For a $30 fee, individuals get a 30-minute consultation with a professional designer.

The “Distinguished Chef Series” features speakers from 1300 on Fillmore, Butterfly, Fillmore, Greens, Pisco Trail, Precita Café, Wente Vineyards and more discussing the farm-to-table movement.

IF YOU GO

SF Flower and Garden Show

Where: San Mateo County Event Center, 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo

When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $20 per day; $30 event pass; $30 to $245 special events and workshops

Contact: (415) 684-7278, www.sfgardenshow.com

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