At the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show

March 14, 2012



Robin Stockwell

Author


events › nursery news ›


We've come a long way from our first show in 2004 to now!

2006 Flower Show Booth

2006 Flower Show Booth

Setting up the 2011 Booth

2011 Flower Show Booth

I think my first experience displaying plants at the flower and garden show was 2004. I had just completed the first 11 months of setting up the new Growing Grounds and had no idea what to expect. I decided to commit to a certain size booth and then set a goal to produce what I would need to stock it during the five days of the show.

Once I decided to participate in the show, the next problem was logistics. How do I get the plants to the show and restock on a daily basis? My good friend Ron Michelson of Half Moon Bay Nursery, www.hmbnursery.com, offered to let me use a section of greenhouse to stage extra plant material. I rented a U-Haul box truck and boxed up all of the plants so that I could move them in an un-shelved truck, and designed a wooden structure to display the plants at the Cow Palace.

I learned a lot in the first two years. The show met and exceeded my expectations in terms of networking, sales, publicity, and exhaustion. Each night, after a 12 hour day at the show, I went back to the nursery with a flashlight to get plants that I had sold through the day. I went into Ron’s greenhouse about 5 a.m. each morning before the days show, picking up flats of plants I had staged there, and headed up to restock the display. I think the only other time I experienced this level of exhaustion was my first trip into the Trinity Alps, carrying an absurd amount of food and drink. Both experiences taught me a great deal in a relatively short period of time.

Loading plants for the 2011 display.

Loading Plants

My primary reason for participating in the garden show was to get exposure for my plants and my business. I hoped I could recuperate the cost. My timing was right and the show provided exposure beyond my expectations. I ended up collaborating with Sean and James of the Organic Mechanics, www.organicmechanics.us, and they translated potted succulents into creative landscapes. I met very special people like Peter Whiteley of Sunset Magazine and some of the top landscape designers in Northern California. Over the years, the show has provided me with many opportunities to show off my plants and has led to many valuable collaborations.

2007 Under the Sea Garden

Every year my connection to the gardening community grows in ways I would never have imagined and the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show has played a major role in this experience. The display gardens give designers the opportunity to show off creative ways to use succulents. My booth allows me to offer for sale a concentrated, but diverse, display of plant material.

2010 "Cube" in collaboration with Organic Mechanics

Succulent Cube

Planting Inspiration at Home

The Succulent Gardens booth has come a long way since those early days. I plan the garden show “crop” a year before the show. In October we set aside all of the 2”, 4”, and 6” plants for the next year’s show. Customers come into the nursery and ask us “who are all those plants for that are not for sale?” I tell them, “Those are the plants set aside for my customers at next year’s garden show.”

Plants staged for garden show.

Plants Staged for Garden Show

The plants for the garden show are divided into five separate groups and each day of the garden show, before the show opens, my crew goes in and pulls out the material from the previous day and sets up a completely new inventory of plant material. For our customers, this means it does not matter which day they visit the show, the display is completely new and fresh each day. For the plants, it means the plants that did not sell are back in the nursery the very next day, receiving TLC from my wonderful nursery crew.

2011 Dovecote

Dovecote

This year I am not producing an Undersea Garden, a “Cube,” or a Dovecote. I did have a plan for this year's show, but complications delayed this year’s plan and you will have to wait until next year for the next “big thing.” Instead, we have concentrated on our booth and will give our 100% full attention to bringing you, our customers, the best selection of succulents possible.

It’s Showtime! Plan your visit to the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show March 21-25 and come see us in booth 1131.

Note: The Succulent Gardens Nursery will be CLOSED March 19-25 while we're up at the show with you!




Robin Stockwell
Robin Stockwell

Author