Fantasy in flower

Auburn landscaper Nathan Beeck displaying garden for sixth year at San Francisco show
By: Jane Rounsaville, courtesy to the Journal
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As spring sunshine thaws the earth and the trees are beginning to bud, foothills gardeners and homeowners look for inspiration. One of the best places to get inspired is the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, for the hottest trends in gardening and landscaping. There's nothing like it, said Nathan Beeck, owner of Clear Water Designs in Auburn. It's one of the top six garden shows in the world. This is Beeck's sixth year to create a garden at the show. The industry's top landscape designers showcase their talents at this prestigious event, and participation is by invitation only. We usually start planning a year in advance, Beeck said. This year, we decided to do a simple design so we started planning around Christmas time. Last year, when we did the Monet Garden, we started to plan and do research right after the show from the previous year ended. Beeck's exhibit this year is called Jungle Skinny Dip. The fantasy garden depicts a secluded Costa Rican jungle paradise, filled with live native palms, vines, orchids, bromeliads, a 5-foot waterfall and even a four-wheel-drive vehicle. The adventure also flirts with the imagination by incorporating jungle sound effects with playful hints of nearby skinny dipping action, he said. With romantic getaways still fresh on his mind, newlywed Beeck got his inspiration for the garden from his travels to favorite tropical destinations like Hawaii and Central America. I am always looking for new and innovative ways to use design and use materials, Beeck said. I look at my work as sculpture. Beeck is working on the exhibit with Chris Schriner of Brookside Garden in Santa Clara and Gary Gragg of Golden Gate Palms in Point Richmond. For Beeck, who considers himself a born designer, this is the fulfillment of a childhood dream. I have always loved plants. I grew up next to a library and would go over there every day after I finished my homework, he said. I would study every book I could get my hands on about landscapes, architecture and interior design. Armed with a degree in landscape architecture from Cal Poly University, Beeck's childhood dream is paying off. He has gained recognition for his innovative approach to landscaping design, and now he is adding a few television appearances to his resumé. He has appeared on The Garden Police on the Discovery Home Channel, and he will be making guest appearances on Gragg's upcoming HGTV show, Superscapes. Beeck takes a very personal approach to his designs. He works hand-in-hand with his clients, and he's involved in every step of each landscape design project, he said. The theme for this year's flower and garden show is Live Beautifully ” Live Outdoors! In as little as three days, about 400 designers, crewmembers and theatrical lighting experts transform the concrete floor of the Cow Palace into a garden paradise. The show, which attracts between 40,000-50,000 visitors each year, includes free seminars and workshops, hundreds of exhibits, as well as hands-on activities for kids. The highlight, though, is the 22 full-size display gardens. Each garden covers about 1,000 square feet, and costs an average of $50,000 to $100,000 in plants, materials and special effects.