This past weekend we attended the Sunset Celebration Weekend show in Menlo Park and now I’m fired up with garden ideas for my home.
If you live in the West and are any kind of gardener, traveler, or food enthusiast, you are probably already familiar with Sunset Magazine. Focusing on travel, food, home and garden in the 13 Western states, the magazine has been in publication since 1898. I’ve been a subscriber for at least 10 years. It was the only magazine I subscribed for a while after I let all my other subscriptions go when I left my corporate job. I look forward to reading it every month and I have torn out and saved articles all over my house.
They describe their Celebration Weekend, held on the grounds of their Menlo Park headquarters, as “the West’s ultimate lifestyle event.” This is also the home of their test garden and huge test kitchen. The event draws 20,000 visitors a year to see the gardens, try local wines and beers, meet celebrity chefs and vendors of all kinds, and see demonstrations on entertaining, gardening and travel.
I’ve always wanted to go but this is the first year I’ve actually made it.
It is a huge event, and huge events can be really exhausting for me and not really much fun. However, this one was very well organized, and spread out enough that it didn’t feel so crowded even with hundreds of visitors. We didn’t attempt to see everything, but we did hit what I really wanted to see – the test garden, the garden design installations, and the tiny house exhibits.
I was so inspired by the test garden and the design installations that I came home and immediately wanted to change everything around in my yard.
I wanted to share with you some of the garden ideas I was most inspired by. Maybe you can use some of these in your yard this summer!
Herb Tea Garden
I loved the edible garden installation from Star Apple Edible Gardens, and my very favorite part was the herbal tea and culinary herb garden. I do grow a number of the herbs they showcased here already in my yard, but they are scattered all over. I love the idea of grouping them all together. Because some of the herbs are perennial (lemon verbena and scented geraniums, for example), there would be structure to the bed all year long, with the annuals like chamomile and basil filling it out in the summer season.
Hardware Cloth Trellis
I actually saw this idea in the magazine months ago, but I didn’t really grok it until I saw it in person. It would be really easy to build! This trellis was in the test garden and had scarlet runner beans on it, but I’m going to use this idea to re-trellis an old-fashioned climbing rose in my back yard that fell off its fence support a couple of years ago and has been growing in a massive pile ever since.
Vertical Succulent Planting
Vertical succulent plantings are getting popular – I even saw a class at our local hip gardening shop this month. But what I loved about the displays here were the custom forms – shapes, letters and numbers. They even had the Sunset Magazine script made into a form and filled with succulents at the end of the test garden (see the second link above). How cute would it be to have my house number written out in succulent-filled forms?
Planting citrus trees in containers is nothing original – they’ve been doing this for centuries in Italy! But for some reason seeing this little Meyer lemon in a pot in the test garden was an ah-ha moment for me. I have citrus trees in pots in my own yard, but the pots are the wrong size! One is way too big, one is too small, one is a wine barrel and just looks wrong. So I’ll be doing some citrus replanting soon! Potted citrus is a great visual anchor near a seating area, and I love having fresh citrus right outside my door. I have a Meyer lemon, a Bears lime and a mandarin tree, and would love to add a couple more to my collection. They grow really well in my sunny front yard.
Planning A Garden For The Life You Have
I think my favorite corner of the whole show was the edible garden installation done by Star Apple Edible Gardens. It contained the tea garden I mentioned above, but also included perennial edibles like a pomegranate tree with the tiniest pomegranates and a row of pineapple guava bushes used as a screening wall. Useful and edible! I stopped by the Star Apple booth and picked up a copy of their book, The Beautiful Edible Garden, pictured above. Combined with the Backyards For Kids book published by Sunset that I found at the Sunset book booth, I have a better vision for how to create a yard and garden that embraces our life – growing food, raising chickens, making room for play and leisure – and that is going to look good all year. It isn’t a vision I’m going to achieve this season, but at least I have a better idea of what I want to create now.
I find it so inspiring to go out collecting ideas, don’t you?
What one thing would you like to change or create in your garden this season?
If you want to see more pictures from Celebration Weekend, check out the hashtag #sunsetcw on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
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