San Francisco Flower and Garden Show in full bloom 

Gardeners know the three harbingers of spring in the Bay Area: more sunlight, warmer breezes and the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show.

The 25th annual show, running March 24-28 at the San Mateo Event Center, offers information on the new and best gardening practices, as well as exciting exhibits from the Bay Area’s most creative landscape designers, and garden activities to engage children and adults.

“It’s a new and exciting show this year — a lot of energy, a different feeling — an excellent, excellent venue,” spokesperson Laura Schaub said.

The San Francisco Flower and Garden Show is actually in San Mateo for the second year, after being held for years at the Cow Palace. But the show is still close to its roots — a mere 22-minute drive from The City, at the crossroads of U.S. Highway 101 and Highway 92. And the more spacious new venue gives the show an expansive, outdoor feel.

There is lot of dirt for everyone to play in — 1,200 cubic yards of sawdust and mulch for gardens and 280,000 pounds of rock — along with 300 “theatrical lighting instruments” hung from the ceiling.

Almost 250 exhibitors fill two major buildings. The Exhibit Hall features stunning garden displays and booths for exhibitors. The Fiesta Hall houses a plant market, orchid market, seminar rooms for special sessions with plant experts, and a children’s play area called Sproutopia.

Sproutopia allows children to dig and play with plants indoors and out, from succulents to small carnivorous plants.

The show’s Slow Food Plaza, past the open-air Sculpture Garden, features vendors and healthy food.

Near the entrance is a true showpiece — Inka Biospheric Systems’ self-contained, solar-powered, hydroponic wall garden that looks like a piece of sculpture.

Don’t miss “The Living Room,” Organic Mechanics’ display. The group, which won best of show in 2007, creates “imaginative, terrific gardens, fanciful gardens,” Schaub said. This year is no exception. There’s a 12-square-foot house with walls entirely made of succulents placed in the middle of a 35-foot-round pond. Candleholders surround the pond, and floating in the waters are “glass gardens.”

There are scores of other exhibits to enjoy. It’s hard to choose just a few.

Rollin Designs and STRATAap’s “No place like home” strikes a balance between Oz and Auntie Em’s backyard, and is a winner, as is Goulart Designs, Golden Gate Palms & Exotics and French’s Waterscapes’ “Prehistoric Paradise.” Eco Systems Landscape Solutions’ “Essential Elements — A Sanctuary for the Soul” is a stand-out.

Because there’s so much to see at the show, gardeners and families who enjoy plants and the outdoors may find it worth visiting more than once.

San Francisco Flower and Garden Show

San Mateo Event Center, 2495 S. Delaware St., San Mateo
When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 24-27; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 28
Tickets: $20 at door; $16 advance; $13 half-day (from 3 p.m. to close); $9 student; $4 youth
Contact: (415) 684-7278;

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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