This just in–the owners of the Seattle and San Francisco garden shows have announced that they are retiring, so the shows will either be sold or closed. Get the press release here. News reports say that the shows are on the market for one or two million; another article reports that the Seattle show made money and the San Francisco show lost money. Not a surprise, in my opinion: for one thing, San Francisco gardens year-round, making a garden show in March less of a big deal than a Seattle show in February, and for another, Seattle has the most awesome venue–an enormous shiny new convention center downtown–as compared to San Francisco's aged Cow Palace (where it was held until this year–now it will be at the San Mateo Events Center).
Like everything else, corporate sponsorships are down (remember the ill-advised Sally Fields/Boniva sponsorship of last year's Seattle show?) and ticket prices just don't cover the cost of the show.
According to the press release, the show's owners do hope "that 'My Garden Spaces,' an on-line
community recently launched as a year-round adjunct to the flower shows, will
continue beyond the shows." My Garden Spaces appears to be one of those "hey kids, come do your social network thingy on our website" initiatives, much like Scotts attempt to get people to blog on their site, or Lowe's weird faux-Second Life experience called Sunnyville (now ended, apparently). I understand the idea behind these sorts of initiatives–corporations hire a consultant who tells them that these crazy kids today have gone all bloggy and virtual, and they'd better get with the program, but I cringe when I think of what they must spend on this stuff compared to what they get in return. We're on Flickr and Facebook and Twitter and TypePad–come talk to us there if you want to talk.
Otherwise, just put on a fabulous show that fills me with joy in early spring. I sure hope somebody steps up and takes over these garden shows; no digital experience can replace the fun of hanging out with thousands of gardeners on a wintry day in a big city, even on the not-that-wintry West Coast.