Garden Masters Exposition 2012 – Del Mar, CA

Posted on: March 14, 2012

We just experienced the challenge and fun of setting up our first display at the Garden Masters Exposition 2012 at the 27th Annual Spring Home/Garden Show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.  The three in-house designers at Eco Minded Solutions, Barry Thau, Chris Tiffany, and Azlynn Hare, collaborated on a design that reflects many aspects of styles that we offer, from clean, contemporary lines, innovative use of rustic building materials, and the use of low-maintenance and water-wise plant materials that still provide a colorful and lush look that San Diegans have come to expect.

This garden retreat is built around a western red cedar deck that was hand made by our construction manager Tim Hines. Snakeskin boulders are the stepping stones leading into this private outdoor space. The deck is faced on two sides by a free-stacked ram’s horn flagstone retaining wall with a built-in vertical succulent garden and water feature. A built-in mahogany bench provides a place to sit under the shady trees, listen to the soothing sounds of water, and to enjoy the tranquility.


We had some pretty tough competition at the event with companies that had larger and more elaborate displays. But, both the judges and many visitors commented on the elegance and simplicity of our design. To quote one judge, “Beautiful clean lines with a great feeling of enclosure. I like how the deck appears to be floating. Nice use of water. Nice use of materials. Like mix of native and exotic plants.” We won an award for best lighting, which included ambient LED lighting to enhance the feeling of floating deck, path lights to create an enveloping mood, and spot lights to highlight the surrounding trees and further create an ambiance of tranquility.

We also won an award for one of four outstanding specimen plants noted at the show: the redbud in spectacular full flower. We scouted the nurseries the week before to find the best-looking plants. However, by the time we arrived to pick up the selected redbud, the flowers were fading and dropping. Our crew called from the nursery to tell us this and picked out another plant. We’re grateful to our team members for the attention to detail. Thank you, Ever Gutierrez and Marcos Beltran!

We scooped an award for ‘Perfection in Nomenclature’, which was appreciated as our team spent hours scouring our books and the internet for proper scientific names and the commonest of common names.

The judges did ding us on our use of an exotic grass that has recently been placed on the invasive species list by the state of California: Mexican feather grass, (Nasella/Stipa tenuissima). In fact, we have already stopped using this freely-reseeding and spreading grass and are using a variety of other water-wise grasses to provide color and texture. We used the mass of feather grass because it was the only grass we could find available at the last minute for this bit of landscape theatre. We regret unintentionally encouraging its use, as many of the Garden Show visitors come to get ideas for plants, so we need to use only the plants we would use ourselves. We promise not to do it next year!


We also experienced that visitors come away with the notion that our display is the only thing we do in terms of style and materials. One visitor asked “can you do a bridge like the display next door?” “Of course!” I replied, as I directed her to our portfolio that shows the variety of landscapes that we have provided for our customers. We invite you to do the same and browse our online portfolio to see for yourself.

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