Cocktail party at Flora Grubb Gardens: San Francisco Garden Bloggers Fling


The San Francisco Garden Bloggers Fling wrapped up on June 30 with a cocktail party at Flora Grubb Gardens, a chic garden center named for its owner — and, yes, that’s really her name. Flora is a rock-star nursery owner, her image and her garden style recommendations appearing regularly in magazines like Sunset and Garden Design. How many nurseries can you say that about? (In Austin we do have local gardening celebrity John Dromgoole, owner of The Natural Gardener, though so far as I know he isn’t known nationally…yet!)


While Flora was not present, we did meet her helpful, friendly staff, who had set up drinks and a snack bar for us in the nursery yard. Shopping and drinking — a dangerous, if fun, pursuit.


While Annie’s Annuals and Perennials, the other Bay Area nursery we visited, is all about the plants, Flora Grubb gives equal time to furnishings and decor, although their plant selection is seriously tempting too. You won’t find any traditional wrought-iron benches or plastic Adirondacks here. It’s all hip contemporary with a colorful, sunny-California vibe.


Their succulent containers are to-die-for.


A closer look


Do you like hot color? I do, and the nursery has pots and glazed spheres to add sizzle to the garden.


‘Hot Lips’ salvia adds its own sizzle, and this beauty grows just as well in Austin — yay!


Sinuous concrete chaises for poolside, perhaps


And for color lovers, a wall of rainbow-hued bistro chairs. This cool display is essentially an art installation.


Matching bistro tables


And fabulous Fermob side tables. I want one! Why have I never seen these for sale in Austin?


Trays of cactus and succulents make a tempting display.


Another gorgeous succulent container


Potted pitcher plants!


Indoors, one-of-a-kind Esther pots. I couldn’t resist and picked up a small pot to bring home.


Check out the tillandsia display, with mint-green containers against a lilac wall.


Melissa of Houston Garden Girl perusing the seed packets


Ooh, look, another whole room full of colorful pots, including more Esther pottery (foreground).


These brightly painted bowls attached to the wall caught my eye too. Fun but also a little odd.


Wooden forms in every letter are available for planting up into personalized succulent signs, or monogramming, for your garden walls.


An enormous succulent “picture” adorned a colorful, painted wall. I love everything in this display area.


A closer look at the succulent picture


Mod seating — crisp white with navy cushions — with giant hesperaloe (I think) Furcraea providing vertical screening


Sleek furniture against a rustic wooden wall. Love! I even want the hotel sign.


Not that I need any more garden furniture at this point, but I couldn’t help thinking I could make copies of these chairs myself. (Yes, but would you?)


Cheerful, graphic paint makes the simple design pop.


One more example


A beautiful gate or trellis


Flora Grubb has a coffee shop, and quite a few customers were taking advantage of the nursery’s numerous seating areas — all for sale, of course — to sip their lattes.


A visit to Flora Grubb wouldn’t be complete without gawking at their famous Edsel-turned-planter in the nursery yard.


A post-apocalyptic commentary?


Or just an over-the-top display of garden humor? It certainly brought a smile to my face.


A relaxing happy hour (and shopping trip) to Flora Grubb was the perfect way to end the Fling. I sat for a while with blogger friends and talked about plants, our purchases, and plans for next year. The Fling moves to Portland, Oregon, next year, and I know it will be another spectacular destination. If you have a garden blog, I encourage you to make plans to attend. Follow the Fling website and Fling Facebook page for more information as it becomes available. Huge thanks again to Kelly Kilpatrick and the San Francisco planning team for putting together such an awesome 2013 Fling!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my coverage of the gardens I visited during this 3-day tour in late June. Can one ever really get enough of California gardens? Ha! For a look back at the magical Nichols Garden, click here. Coming up soon, a few posts about Bay Area sightseeing I did with my family following the Fling.

All material © 2006-2013 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

20 Responses

  1. Shirley says:

    It all looks wonderful and fun with Flora Grubb a nice way to wrap up. Good choice on the Esther pot as it will be great planted with succulents.

    The simple wood chairs look uncomfortable but would make a statement in a garden of recycled elements. The wall in the coffee shop is going in the idea file for the back wall of our new porch.

    Can’t wait to see the rest of your trip.

    That wooden wall would be fabulous for your screened porch, Shirley! —Pam

  2. Alison says:

    What a great place Flora Grubb was! I was already feeling a little sad that the Fling was nearly over. It’s been so much fun a month or so later, seeing all your posts.

    Thanks, Alison. It’s been a lot of fun for me to relive the Fling, and remember all the gardens in more detail, by writing up a post about each garden. —Pam

  3. Pam, you did a spectacular job of capturing what was such an enjoyable evening and one of the highlights for me at The Garden Blogger’s Fling. I now want to plant my car.

    Ha! Felder Rushing did it with a truck that he drives around. I’d love to see your version, Robin. A green-roofed car perhaps? —Pam

  4. So modern! My favorite thing were the old fashioned doors. :) Thanks for sharing!

    Yes, tres modern. But those old doors are lovely too. ;-) —Pam

  5. Lori says:

    Man, a nursery in the Bay Area that I HAVEN’T been to?!!! I am gonna have to go next time. I am in love with the variety of contemporary seating and pots that they have available. I wish we had all these options in Austin!

    What? How have you missed Flora Grubb, Lori? You need to make another trip pronto. Can I tag along? And yes — how I’d love to see more-contemporary offerings like these in Austin. —Pam

  6. kathy says:

    What a splendid post Pam, you really caught the essence of Floras in your photo essay. You made me think of Saxons class at SFBG , and his lesson about telling a story. Sometimes it is hard to tell story with one photo;maybe the story you want to tell really needs a group of images, each one contributing to the whole. This is what you have done here–and I am really inspired by your approach..

    Why thanks, Kathy! I’m so glad you enjoyed my Flora story. —Pam

  7. Peter/Outlaw says:

    I didn’t want our evening at Flora Grubb to end! I kept wishing that I’d driven so that a carload of plants could have come home with me. This was my first fling and it was an incredible experience! Your posts captured the spirit of the gardens and the event well and I enjoyed reliving the fling through them. Looking forward to Portland!

    Your checkbook probably thanks you for not having driven, Peter. Then again, for the price of an airline ticket you could buy a lot of plants. Anyway, I look forward to seeing you again next year in Portland! —Pam

  8. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Truly a delightful place. I wish it was near and I could grow all of those plants on display. Those orange pots… be still my heart.

    I know what you mean about wishing you could grow all the plants. California gardens can induce horticultural envy. —Pam

  9. Layanee says:

    I was so sorry to miss this final stop on the tour. Thanks for posting so many wonderful pictures. It was almost like being right there.

    Layanee, you were missed. But did you have a wonderful time in the wine country with Mr. Ledge and Gardens? I hope you’ll post about it. See you next year, yes? —Pam

  10. Looks like ANOTHER great place.
    It would be tempting, too. It’s always hard to leave a garden shop, without something.

    Good tour….

    Yep, I like to buy a small souvenir, even if bringing home a plant seems too difficult or chancy. The little Esther pot was the perfect thing! —Pam

  11. David says:

    What a fun place and very colorful. Thanks for the tour. I especially like the car. I need to redo my old red wagon planter and get a bit bolder. Thanks for some inspiration. LOL
    David/:0)

    An old red station wagon, David? ;-) —Pam

  12. Great blog post, and gorgeous garden! BTW, I grow Hot Lips Salvia here in Taylor, and it is HUGE now. I’ve never had salvias get this large. bobbi c.

    I had a ‘Hot Lips’ in my old garden. I should add it to my current garden. I miss it! —Pam

  13. So much to see – I would be like a chicken with my head cut off! What a funky place!!!!!

    Ha! You really would love this nursery, Heather. It’s just your style. —Pam

  14. Wow there was so much to see and yet I didn’t see the coffee shop. How did I miss that? Nice photos and great story!

    Who has time for coffee when surrounded by so many gorgeous plants and garden displays, right? —Pam

  15. It was an inspiring place — how I wish we lived closer! And the Flora Grubb redesign of the garden around the corner was quite the story.

    I was enjoying the nursery too much to walk around the corner to see the garden, so I’ve been glad to see pics from those who did. —Pam

  16. I’m stunned at all you captured there – my 2nd time at FG, and a pure delight. A good wrap-up to a great time at the fling, including how refreshingly chilly it was there. The mix of contemporary, rustic and bold throughout did it for me, plus the colorful furnishings and accents! And java…

    Their knowledge with friendliness – a rare combo.

    Remember how the fog rolled in and just cooled everything off? Such a nice memory during the sweltering last months of summer in Texas! —Pam

  17. Gail says:

    This was the wrong Fling to miss…Who am I kidding they are all the wrong ones to miss. What a wonderful nursery and Pam, those succulent container are incredible, as are the empty containers, the concrete lounge chairs and the colorful metal tables. Sigh. gail

    Gail, I looked around several times during the Fling, and it just didn’t seem the same without you and Carol and Elizabeth and the other “originals” who couldn’t make it this year. You were missed! But I do hope to catch up with you again next year. :-) —Pam

  18. Nice wrap up at Flora Grubb’s. What a cool place. We were the last to leave from there, our shuttle came to take us to the airport from FG. While we waited we got to lounge on the heated sofa with the staff! While a heated concrete sofa isn’t always wanted in SC, it would be neat when the weather gets cool!
    Flings are lots of fun and you get to meet folks from all over!

    I didn’t even know there was a heated sofa. What a concept! And yes, the Flings are so much fun. See you next year, Janet! —Pam

  19. Jean says:

    I was so tempted by those Esther pots but I was determined to travel light. It was a struggle though, ha!

    Those little pots are quite small and light, Jean. ;-) I wish I’d gotten a few more. —Pam

  20. Chris says:

    I love your blog so much, I come back to it every few weeks to just scroll through the posts because I love them all so much!

    I think the “hesperaloe” is actually Furcraea macdougalii, which they use a lot in their containers.

    http://floragrubb.com/florasblog/?p=3526

    Hope I can make it to to California one day to visit this place!

    Thanks for the plant ID, Chris! —Pam

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