What is a  Show garden?

The basis upon which every garden rests is the underlying design. Gardens conceived and constructed for the show are meant to inspire and promote good design in home and public gardens, but they are not necessarily true gardens.

“The design of a garden show exhibition garden and a real exterior garden are both similar in the sense that they involve the creation or manipulation of space to enhance the user’s experience. There are, however, distinct differences affecting the design of the two types of garden.

The design of a real exterior garden site must respond to the environmental factors such as soil conditions, temperature, wind, sun exposure, etc. The garden site also has a geographic contact which will affect the charter of the design. For example, a distant view may be developed as a design feature. The garden matures and changes throughout the years and seasons. The construction methods used to build the garden should be permanent to hold up over the years. The design of a ‘”real” garden also expresses largely the owner’s requirements as to how it will be used. These requirements such as style, budget, and maintenance will influence the garden’s design.

An exhibition garden’s design is not affected significantly by environmental factors because it is generally in an interior location and only for temporary display. The exhibition garden essentially creates its own contact for the design and tends to focus on itself as a self-contained space. The design of the garden is not for permanence, but rather for an instant impact. The construction of the garden should be safe, but easily installed and disassembled after the show. The exhibition garden is based on the individual designer’s own set of requirements. There is not a specific owner’s need to be met. In this sense, the design of the garden reflects a personal statement of the designer.”

– by Peter Rosekrans from the 1986 San Francisco Landscape Garden Show Program Book