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THE PLACE WHERE GARDENERS GATHER : The Los Angeles Garden Show Opens Friday. It's Full of Fresh Ideas, Fantasy Landscapes That Last but a Week and a Half and, of Course, Flowers for the Fall Planting Season

October 13, 1985|ROBERT SMAUS

Where do good gardeners gather? Why, at garden shows, of course.That's where they go to harvest ideas to be sifted through later, to see what's new, and to gossip with other gardeners. It should be noted that garden shows are not flower shows; they are not simply showcases of contending blossoms--rather a mix of fleeting fantasy landscapes, booths by nurseries and other vendors of the latest and greatest garden paraphernalia, and displays of a great variety of plants that may or may not have blooms. In the East, garden shows are a major event, a first sign of spring in Philadelphia, Boston and New York, not unlike the seed catalogues that arrive while the snow is still on the ground. On the West Coast, there is but one true garden show, still in its infancy although now heading into its fourth year. Even though it still has a way to go before becoming the equal of Philadelphia's, or England's Chelsea, some of its displays have become better, or at least fresher. Our event--the Los Angeles Garden Show--comes in the fall, because fall is perhaps our best planting season and also because our sense of renewal precedes the first rain, not the last frost. This year's show will run from Oct. 18 to Oct. 27. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $4.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Monday October 14, 1985 Home Edition View Part 5 Page 7 Column 3 View Desk 2 inches; 41 words Type of Material: Correction
The Los Angeles Garden Show, described in Sunday's Los Angeles Times Magazine, will be held on the grounds of the Los Angeles State and County Arboretum in Arcadia, 301 N. Baldwin Ave., just off the Foothill Freeway (I-210). The location was inadvertently deleted from the magazine article.

Last year's Los Angeles Garden Show, pictured here, was amazing in terms of the amount of color present. It was a testimony to what the modern nursery grower can accomplish. On display were flowers at their peak--flowers that were long past their prime in our home gardens. And they were not grown merely for the show, although certainly the best of the fall crop was set aside for exhibition. It was a spring-like display, despite the fact that the first rain of the year--as well as its hottest day--occurred during the show, suggesting, perhaps, that our gardens could be a bit more colorful during the fall.

Our favorites were the fantasy landscapes that existed only for the show.

There were gardens built indoors, and little landscapes constructed on real ground outdoors. Last year, there was a sunken patio surrounded by lily ponds at eye (ground) level, with a kite-like sun screen soaring overhead. In this excavated garden, the temperature seemed at least 10 degrees cooler than in the shade of a nearby tree. Zen Landscape of Los Angeles were the constructors and designers. (Indoors is usually saved for more-perishable cut flowers, including several rooms of floral arrangements for the Los Angeles Flower Market, done last year by designer John Stillion.) Several indoor exhibits made nostalgic use of herbs and dried flowers.

Back outdoors was a delightful small-patio garden that should have found a home in a real backyard after the show. Designed by Raymond Ross of Azusa, it had everything--a trickling fountain that looked easy enough to set up, and interesting flowers against a lush, green backdrop. Right next door was every gardener's perfect potting area--the one we never get around to building--assembled from the dreams of the Digger's Garden Club. Surrounded by aging latticework was a bleached redwood bench with a bin or drawer for everything.

Always in search of new plants, we were delighted to see what the Huntington Botanical Garden is experimenting with--all grouped together for our perusal in one corner of the show.

Ornamental grasses--an essential ingredient of fine English and European gardens--made their California debut, thanks to the Southern California Horticultural Society exhibit. There is a vast world of non-lawn grasses that could bring grace and color to the rest of any garden. Yet, only a few have ever been available in Southern California nurseries.

There was no shortage of new and exciting plants for the gardener who's looking for more variety or a challenge: proteas, orchids, bromeliads, cactus and succulents, perennials--even a green-striped lemon.

This year's show will have its share of new plants and ideas for using them, plus a bonus. The theme is "Water in the Garden," so designs and displays will be built around water features--from ponds to fountains. Show designer Chris Rosmini has been handed the assignment of designing a display around the giant Amazon water lily, a favorite of Victorian visitors to the great glass houses of that age. This is the first time that lily has been grown in California for a very long time, so many fingers are crossed in hope that it will survive long enough to be a part of the show. The pads of this huge cousin of the water lily grow several feet across, and the rims of each pad turn up, making it look like a floating bowl. Underneath, it is heavily armed with thorns so that Amazonia fish cannot devour it. Photographers used to pose children on top of the huge pads, causing Victorian readers to gasp in amazement. It will probably be only a bit less amazing in 1985.

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