Rockin’ It: Innovative Use of Stone at the 2011 San Francisco Garden Show

Running through the back of my mind when I visit a garden show is the knowledge that most of what I see isn’t really workable at home. The displays are pure fantasy – a chance for designers to show off what they could do if practical matters like watering and maintenance weren’t an issue. I’m not sure that home gardeners always understand this, since even I find it confusing trying to work out which ideas could actually function at home and which are best to just oooh and ahhh over.

But the one thing that usually can be replicated at home is the hardscape. Stone, benches and walls make up the structure of the garden, and if you an afford the materials, you can usually straight up steal the ideas from garden shows. Come along for a pictorial tour of how designers used stone in the display landscapes at the 2011 San Francisco Garden Show.

Love these diagonal lines:

pretty wall idea - Copy

pretty wall idea

Fun wall details:

stone wall detail - Copy

stone wall detail

Caged stone – spectacularly ugly in the full-on view but softer and more intentional within the landscape:

stone fortress

more attractive this way maybe

The moss sandwich – too cute!

moss sandwich

Tucking in epiphytes and succulents (low water needs):

succulents and epiphytes (2)

Pain-free pavers made of rubber – bouncy to step on and no injury if you fall on them:

bouncy pavers

A neat stone bench – I like the thyme dripping from the holes left between the rocks:

neat stone bench idea

A “don’t do this” moment – everyone was sinking into this loose, non-packing polished stone when they tried to walk on it:

stone you sink into

And finally, stone that isn’t stone. These living walls planted with the tough California native Dudleya hassei brought tremendous interest:

living wall, natives

dudleya hassei

Want to see more from the San Francisco Garden Show? Check out these posts:

Highlights and Lowlights From the San Francisco Garden Show

Edible Planting Ideas From the SF Garden Show

The SF Garden Show, Contained: Planting Ideas for Balcony Gardens

7 responses to “Rockin’ It: Innovative Use of Stone at the 2011 San Francisco Garden Show”

  1. I love every single one of those (well, not the quicksand sinking stone)! I want stone walls and more structure/hardscape in my garden in the worst way, but finances and a fear of a mega backache prevent me from taking it on every year. Gen, do you do hardscaping in your clients’ gardens or do you have someone you work with on that bit of back-breaking goodness?

    • Oh, heavens Erin, I am with you completely. No, I don’t do any of my own installs. I decided years ago after reading Purple Cow by Seth Godin that I really needed to focus on what I loved, even if it felt like I could never build a business that way. Well, years later, I work with a fantastic contractor (who does hardscape! Yes!), a lovely DIY irrigation consultant, and a few lawn care companies I trust. And I am booked solid doing things I love.
      I confess the high cost and backache factor keep me away from hardscape in my own garden too. I’ve found a middle ground and gotten more comfortable working with wood, but as for patios and paths? Right now, it’s all lawn, baby.

  2. I enjoyed these pictures. The caged stone is a fun idea, and I like the rubber stepping stones as well-they’d be great with kids running around.