Food Gal Giveaway — Tickets to the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show

A gorgeous protea. (Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show)

Step inside the 26th annual San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, March 23-27, for a real whiff of spring.

Get ideas for your own backyard by checking out 20 full-sized garden installations from top Bay Area designers, including a 6,000-square-foot “Homestead” by Star Apple Edible Gardens of Oakland, which will feature a chicken coop and demonstrations on beer and jam making.

Indeed, this year’s show — which takes place at the San Mateo Event Center — is full of foodie fun. For the first time, the show will feature a series of cooking demonstrations by Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley (March 26), Sean Baker of Gather restaurant in Berkeley (March 23), and Jeffrey Stout of Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino and San Francisco (March 25).

Additionally, the Livermore Valley Wine Growers Association will debut a new wine garden tasting area.

A garden exhibit from a previous year. (Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show)

The show also will include seminars, book signings, a farmers market and a marketplace with more than 200 vendors selling everything from plants to seeds to tools.

Filmmaker Deborah Garcia will be showing scenes from her newest documentary, “Symphony of the Soil,” which examines the state of community based and scientific growing practices around the globe.

Advance tickets are $16 online for a single day or at the door for $20. A multi-day, all-show pass is $25; a half-day pass is $15; and children under $16 are admitted free at all times.

The Food Gal is happy to be able to give away three pairs of multi-day passes. Yes, tickets good for any and all days of the show. Tickets are valued at $50 per pair.

Contest: Entries are limited to those who can attend the show in San Mateo, March 23-27. Entries will be accepted through midnight March 12. Winners will be announced March 14.

How to win?

Tell me your favorite flower and why. Best three answers win the tickets.

Here’s my own answer:

“It’s a tie between calla lillies and tulips. I love each for their sculptural shapes that are arresting to look at, no matter what color the blooms may be. I have a soft spot for callas because they were my wedding flowers — white for my own bouquet and burgundy for my bridesmaids. No other flower makes me think of spring as much as tulips, either, particularly the ones with sweet pale colors of Easter egg candies.”

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  • I have a soft spot for my wedding flowers too. Mine’s were cymbidium orchids. They’re exotic, durable, and just simply beautiful. I only wish my cymbidium orchid plants bloomed more often.

  • One whiff of Cecil Brunner and I am four years old again, newly immigrated from China, and racing through my grandmother’s side yard, accidentally crushing those pink, fragrant, tiny roses…

  • Purple iris. They have been a favorite flower since my childhood. I knew spring was really coming when the purple iris by the door of my elementary school would form their elongated buds then bloom into purple fragrance. I love their sculptural shape and the scent is purple bliss.

  • Eremurus, the foxtail lily. I saw them for the first time last summer in Salt Lake City and spent the next week photographing them. Eight foot tall flower spikes! Incredible graphic buds which open into a lush, complex, fragrant profusion of flowers.

  • Zinnias! Plain old zinnias. Nothing fancy or cottage-garden-y. I’ve been a gardener since a childhood military childhood made me rely on quick annuals, and since then I’ve grown everything, even stupid old wonderful smelling fussy picky daphne. But the plain country girl, with only blazing enchanting color to recommend her, is my prize.


    Ever since my Kindergarden tour to a green house when I was given a daffodil, it has been my very favorite flower. I love the surprise feeling they give when they first bloom. I love the old fashioned fragrance and their bright yellow and varieties. I’ve had a Daffodil Love Affair for 57 years now.

  • My Dad hid Lily of the Valley under a boxwood shrub in our garden when I was growing up. He was a Yugoslavian immigrant, in a union railroad job with a degree in Horticulture, raising a family and an amazing and special garden in Spokane. I can still remember laying next to the shrub fascinated by delicate bell shaped flowers with the wonderful fragrance. They seemed like something from a story book. It felt like I got into their world. I spent time with them everyday, never picking them. I’m 45 now, and this memory holds for over 40 years.

    I have since learned that this flower is important in Yugoslavia. All the more reason for it to be special.

  • My favorite flower is the rose. They are not only beautiful but they were also my mother’s name. They remind me of her. She was gone too soon.

  • I could say cherry blossom since my family grows cherries or tulips since they are beautifully delicate… but solely for the purpose of this posting… and because I do like them too… I have to say orchids… and not just any orchid… but the vanilla bean orchid… beautiful and flavorful at the same time!

  • Dragon Arum (Dracunculus vulgaris) is probably my favorite. I know that it smells bad, but that is part of its charm. The velvety-ness is beautiful to look at up close too if you can handle the corpse flower-ness. Additionally, recently I sold a few of my extras online on CL and the man who responded to buy them was my cousin who had been given up for adoption at birth. Our family had only just recently learned of this, and we were still in shock. Imagine my surprise to meet him for the first time! It was awkward to say the least, but I will always cherish the fact that my cousin loves the plant too, and like me, he is an avid plant nut!

  • My favorite is any California native or Mediterranean flower – especially if it’s blue.

    Save water – go Native!

  • My favorite flower is the Calendula. It is drought and frost tolerant, pest and disease resistant and blooms twelve months out of the year by self-seeding itself producing new babies year round. I have pictures of a totally frost covered bloom that survived and thrived when the sun came out and melted away the frost. Awesome flower for continuous color.

  • TULIPS! They remind me of the promise of spring, with a wonderful array of colors that go with any decor or arrangment in a garden. I love that they replenish themselves, multiplying quietly underground to surprise you when the weather is still cool and you think the sun will never show it’s face…low and behold you see those beautiful petals open. Can’t help but smile and know that the best season of the year is ahead!

  • I’m out of the running but I just wanted to say that my mum would love this event! Meanwhile here I am with a black thumb lol.

  • SweetPeas! They are simple and joyful. Their fragrance makes one want to grab an armful to take a big whiff. They have such a variety of colors and are so lovely just put into an old fashioned jar. It is also my husband’s nickname for me 😉

  • I wish I could go! Sounds like fun!

  • The beautiful California Poppy. As a child hiking with my father, the brilliant orange color of the Poppy stood out to me. These bright flowers bring back memories of taking a leisurely post dinner stroll on the trail near my home, or embarking on hour long hikes in the hills of northern California- something I miss everyday since I left for college in Chicago, IL. The radiant gold poppy set on its distinct green leaves brings me back home.

  • My favorite is the tulip. I’ve always loved their bright spring color after winter and the way they bend and move. After an Easter egg hunt at my sister’s house I cannot help but see a tulip and smile. She had a huge patch of tulips on the side of her house and we found that a treat filled plastic egg fit perfectly inside a tulip. The kids had a ball hunting in the tulips and finding eggs in the blossoms.

  • The bright orange bloom of canna tropicanna. It’s vibrant, exotic flower takes me away to a tropical paradise I long to be.

  • I love the Gardenia and the African Violets. Not so much for either’s appearance but for their significance for me. The Gardenia was my Grandfather’s favorite and the African Violet my mothers. To smell a Gardenia is to be embraced by him from the beyond. I remember having our dinner table packed with African Violets. My mom seems to get them to flower just by touching them. I however am struggling.

  • Hydrangea – because it’s not only beautiful in detail, but i love how the color changes depending on the acidity of the soil – so you can change the color scape of your garden with a seasonal soil treatment and then on top of that, edible? mark, my husband, has had hydrangea tempura – the entire blossom battered and deep fried with each leaf clearly outlined – yes of course that was in japan.

  • Definitely Alstroemeria ‘The Third Harmonic’. That cheerful color of orange goes with my favorite purple sage and princess flowers, and you can cut the flowers to bring indoors, and they have lush, tropical foliage. I love everything about it! Except that it stops blooming in winter. Boo, hiss. Only so much we can ask for, though.

  • I am a gardener at heart who comes alive when I can feel spring in the air after the cold, wet winter. Spring is a time of renewal in the garden. Trees get back their leafy clothes all fresh and perfect again, and plants get decorated with their colorful flowers. Pruned naked rose canes spring forth with both shiny new leaves and beautiful blossoms. What gardener does not love spring?

    My favorite flower is the petite South African lachenalia. As the earliest spring bloomer in my garden, it just screams to me with its so colorful flowers that spring is finally here.

    Here is a potful of cheer heralding spring!

  • They might be pretty modest-looking flowers, but what about orange tree blossoms? Especially at this time of year, our citrus trees are blooming. When the sun warms the air the flowers perfume the whole garden. There is nothing quite so nice as orange blossom honey….or living in a temperate climate for that matter!

  • My favorite flower is a brugmansia. Not only does it have good-size flowers and comes in many different colors, but it has a lovely fragrance in the evening. Angels Trumpet is a perfect name for it. Its cousin the datura, the Devil’s Chalice, is nice too, but is not shrub like. Beauty and fragrance at eye level, what could be better than that?

  • A rainbow mix of NASTURTIUMS.
    It was the first flower seed that I sowed as a child.
    It’s the ultimate self esteem plant because it never fails to grow despite poor soil and forgetfulness.
    Nasturtiums were also the first flowers I used in food preparation ( if you could call it that ) First they graced elaborately shaped mud pies and eventually, some years later, found their way into real edible summer salads and horti-centric garden party cocktails.

  • I love balloon flowers (Platycodon). The little puffs of airy balls that they form are so darn cute. When the balloons open up, they form absolutely perfect star shaped flowers. It just brings out the kid in me.

  • I love Japanese anemones! They come in the late summer as a nice white welcome to fall. The white flowers seem to float along, and I can imagine myself walking along a japanese pond. The plants are very low maintenance, yet add a nice classy feel to the shade garden.

  • There is a perfectly formed Meyer lemony yellow daffodil right outside my office window. The sunlight catches its sulfury throat. The gentle breeze catches its petals setting them in motion like wisps of hair. It’s dancing right now on its long slender neck of green—teasing me—calling me to come outside and join it in play. Alas, I can’t do it, but I love watching my favorite friend day after day. My dancing daffodil is my favorite Spring flower as it brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart.

  • Contest is now closed. Come back Monday to find out the winners and to participate in a very cool new contest.

  • Irises- white, yellow, but especially the blue- purplely bearded ones. To me, these shout out spring and Easter. They are so majestic and royal!

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