Garden shows can be marvelous affairs, as any visitor to the Chelsea show in London or those in San Francisco, Seattle, Boston or Philadelphia can attest.
They are fun places to discover new plants combined in ways never imagined, to find new tools and techniques, to socialize with other gardeners and to study the display gardens created just for the shows.
Garden shows in Los Angeles got off to a grand start in October, 1876, with an exhibition of citrus, roses, fuchsias and exotic new plants in a specially erected pavilion on Temple Street. And, although there have been many shows since, there have been none in recent years in the Southland, one of the world's best of all gardening climates.
The California Arboretum Foundation is bringing back the fun and adventure of garden shows by reviving the Los Angeles Garden Show, perhaps reinventing it in the process. Beginning Oct. 18, the 1995 show will occupy much of the Arboretum in Arcadia for five days.
Benefiting the arboretum and sponsored by Robinsons-May and the Los Angeles Times, the show will re-create the most popular exhibits of shows past, including the Chelsea-like display gardens that will cover almost three acres, while adding foods and even fragrances that originate in the garden to make the show unique.
"We're really trying to bring a world-class garden show to Los Angeles," says show director Robert Viking.
Highlights will be 21 small gardens, created by some of the Southland's leading designers; a gallery of floral arrangements using roses named after celebrities; designer "tablescapes" and "La Parfumerie," where the plants that go into perfumes make up the bouquets.
There will be talks by celebrity gardener C.Z. Guest and designer Ryan Gainey, daily seminars by some of the most knowledgeable horticulturists in Southern California and cooking demonstrations by expert chefs.
When your legs tire, you can buy a loaf of French bread and some cheese and have a picnic. And for those who will want to take something home for their gardens, there will be a plant market and a marketplace for gardening accessories.
Spread throughout the show grounds will be the 21 designer landscapes, called style gardens, based on the show's theme of "Gardens of the World." Among these will be an English garden designed by Sassafras nursery in Topanga, an Asian garden by Serenity Ponds, a West African oasis and a Moroccan garden using straw-bale construction by Van-Martin Rowe with the Eos Institute of Laguna Beach.
Hortus Nursery, with designer Mark Bartos, will build an elaborate garden called "Dreams of Provence," which is to "open up vistas of possibilities for Southern California gardeners using Provencal traditions," with sour Seville oranges in glazed pots, olive trees, gnarled old roses and grapes under-planted with sages and santolina.
Acclaimed Atlanta garden designer Ryan Gainey, whose own Georgia garden has been described as a "floral rhapsody," is creating a garden called "A Southern Romance."
The Pasadena Garden Club is planning "A Child's Country Garden," which will be full of charming ideas for children, including a playhouse and tepee decorated with morning glories and miniature roses, and children's vegetable gardens.
Sixteen small pavilions will hold "tablescapes," flowery table settings by well-known interior designers, including Hutton Wilkinson, admired for his use of unusual materials; Tom Beeton, the former design director for Ralph Lauren, and Joe Ruggiero, host of cable TV's "Best of American Design."
In the celebrity rose gallery, 20 floral designers, including Pasadena's Jacob Maarse and La Brea Avenue's Rita Flora, will create arrangements using roses named in honor of celebrities, including Elizabeth Taylor, Lucille Ball and Whoopi Goldberg.
La Parfumerie by Robinsons-May will be a display of the world's favorite fragrances, interpreted in floral designs by Fleurish of Los Angeles, using flowers and other plants incorporated in perfumes.
Food will be plentiful. At Tuileries, a food plaza,visitors may buy picnic lunches, selecting from baguettes, cheeses, sandwiches, deserts and wines, then dine at tables or on blankets provided by the show. There will also be numerous food booths and pavilions on the grounds, including a small Italian bistro and a coffee plaza.
In true garden show tradition, there will be more than 40 educational seminars presented during the five-day show.
Times Garden Editor Robert Smaus will give a daily illustrated talk on the trials and triumphs experienced while making his own flowery garden and will suggest five important points to keep in mind when designing a garden.
Times' columnists Joel Rapp and Jack Christensen will also speak, Rapp on ideas for children's container gardens and Christensen, an award-winning rose hybridizer, about roses.