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Gardening Fun Is Crystal Clear

Exhibits: Show, which fills three levels of Costa Mesa mall, focuses on the pleasure of tending plants.


People who already believe that gardening is a pleasure will appreciate the theme of the Southern California Spring Garden Show: "Pleasure Garden."

The show, at Crystal Court in Costa Mesa, continues through Sunday.

Sponsored by Sunset Magazine and Books, this ninth annual show fills three levels of Crystal Court with eight demonstration gardens. There will also be 70 vendors offering a variety of flowering and foliage plants, garden tools, garden ornaments and art. Members of plant and garden societies will share their knowledge, and speakers are slated for the entire show.

Setting the tone is an imposing central garden, the Garden of the Jungle Mist, which depicts temple ruins and tropical foliage. The 25-foot-tall garden, designed by Christine Mulligan--a landscape designer based in Long Beach--mimics ruins of an exotic temple.

Vines twine through carved columns, supporting tropical greens and blossoms, and casting shadows on the carved stone god meditating in the midst of the ruins. In front of him are offerings of orchids and tropical fruit.

The impressive display is covered with plant and floral material, including mosses, lichen, seeds, beans, spices and dried materials such as shredded coconut. The landscape at its base features rare ferns, including bird's nest, orchids, ginger, anthuriums and heliconiums, accented by exotic plants such as red banana, ti and croton.

"I really enjoy designing these center gardens," Mulligan said. "It lets me go free-form. Each year we try to outdo ourselves."

Team members she's referring to include Don Davidson, an award-winning designer for parades and themed entertainment, who designed the columns and ruins for the display. Construction and floral design are by Jim Hynd, award-winning float builder for Fiesta Parade Floats, builders of numerous trophy winners in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade.

Mulligan also served as coordinator for the design competition gardens, all on the first level at Crystal Court.

Garden show hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Parking is free. Crystal Court is at the corner of Bear Street and Sunflower Avenue, Costa Mesa. Information: (714) 435-2160.

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