Garden Masters Judges

Each year the San Diego Horticultural Society invites a panel of judges for the garden displays, who are experts in their fields of design and horticulture. This year the panel includes:

Steve Gerisher

Larkspur Landscape
Past President Pacific Horticulture Society and Los Angeles Horticulture Society

Steve Gerischer, an award-winning landscape designer, teacher, and former president of the Southern California Horticulture Society, has been gardening locally since childhood. He has appeared on HGTV’s Landscaper’s Challenge (where his was the design chosen and installed) and formerly worked and lectured at Smith & Hawken in Beverly Hills, and Hortus, in Pasadena. He now divides his time between creating landscapes with his company, Larkspur Garden Design, and lecturing on a wide variety of topics relating to gardening in Southern California. Current motto: “Get rid of the lawn!”

Past Lecture Topics: Containers for the Mediterranean Garden (Gardening under Med. Skies Symposium, 2004), Hypertufa Pots and Troughs (Arboretum/Descanso/SOKA), Rose Pruning and Care (Various), Designing with Foliage-Form and Texture (Greystone LA Garden Show/Arboretum etc.), Orchid Care, Topiary, Bulbs (Spring and Summer), Bareroot Plants, Pest Control (Organic Methods), Organic Gardening, Getting Rid of Your Lawn – All for Smith & Hawken (1994-1997), Hortus (1997-2000), Arboretum, Covina Valley Adult, Descanso, etc. (2000 to present)

David Clarke

David Clarke Designs
President, Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD), San Diego Chapter

David Clarke, APLD, is a native Southern Californian and has been inspired by the climate, terrain, and lifestyles of this unique region since childhood. He founded David Clarke Design in 2009 to offer clients quality landscape design services that reflect this appreciation and understanding of our Mediterranean climate and our ever increasing need to conserve water.

He is a graduate of San Diego State University and holds an Associate of Science degree in Landscape Design from Cuyamaca College. He has designed custom residential landscapes throughout much of San Diego County, and has volunteered pro bono landscape design services for groups including Azalea Park Water Conservation Garden, Community Housing Works Facelift, and Earthlab Conservation Garden.

Professional qualifications include:

  • Certified Professional Member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers
  • Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) (an EPA Watersense-labeled program)
  • G3-certified Watershed Wise Landscape Professional (an EPA Watersense-labeled program)

He is President of the San Diego District of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, and is a member of the California Native Plant Society.

Rick Mandel

Ewing Irrigation
President, California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA), San Diego Chapter

Philip Armstrong

The Lightfoot Planning Group
President, American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), San Diego Chapter

With nearly 30 years of professional experience as a licensed landscape architect, Phil’s approach to project design applies creative and sustainable strategies that endeavor to realize a project’s full potential. As Senior Landscape Architect at The Lightfoot Planning Group in Carlsbad, Phil oversees staff resources that support a variety of project markets in both private and public sectors. He is an advocate for Low Impact Design and High-Performance Landscapes and has a proven track record of project success and client satisfaction. As a key member of a multi-disciplinary landscape and land use planning firm, he excels in coordinating project team professionals, owners and stakeholders in leveraging a collaborative design process for improved project outcomes.

Phil is the current President of The American Society of Landscape Architects – ASLA San Diego chapter. His executive board provides member support to over 200 fellow San Diego landscape architects and is preparing to host ASLA’s annual Conference on Landscape Architecture in November with over 7000 landscape architects from around the county and the globe in attendance.

Phil’s varied experience of shepherding projects from concept through construction includes; development support of residential communities, design of K-12 and community college campuses, sports field design, municipal facilities, streetscapes, and habitat restoration projects. He also provides assistance to Lightfoot’s planning staff on a variety of master and specific planning projects. He is a Carlsbad resident and enjoys camping, fly fishing and chasing a little white ball around the golf courses of North County.

Magen Shaw

Balboa Park Horticulturist
City of San Diego

Megan Shaw joined the City of San Diego as the Horticulturist for Balboa Park in 2017 bringing with her a broad background of experience in project management and environmental expertise.

She has already accomplished numerous updates to the gardens in the park and intends to diversify the urban forest to thrive in changing climactic conditions.

Magen Shaw double majored in Natural Resource Management and Restoration and Botany at San Jose State University specializing in plant communities of California. While there she ran the Environmental Resource Center for two years leading numerous significant seminars and projects.

Prior to joining the City of San Diego she worked for Davey Tree Service consulting with their forestry and biology departments throughout Southern California. She was Davey’s representative on a multidisciplinary/multi-industry working group for tree care for birds and wildlife. After working on the canopy study for Disneyland, she helped develop protocol for the tree inventory for Balboa Park.

Horticulture Judges

Each year the San Diego Horticultural Society invites a panel of judges for the garden displays, who are experts in their fields of design and horticulture. This year the panel includes:

John and Serena Noble

Coastal Sage Gardens

Award Criteria for Garden Masters Exhibition

Execution of Purpose
Gold, silver or no award based on Statement of Purpose.

Judges’ Choice
Awarded to the garden selected from among the judge’s favorite gardens.

Peoples’ Choice
The public will be allowed to vote for their favorite garden electronically by registering their email. One vote per email address.

Pacific Horticulture Award for Horticultural Excellence
Awarded to a garden with outstanding horticultural display by Pacic Horticulture magazine.

Design Excellence Award
Awarded to a garden with outstanding design.

Water Smart Award
Awarded to the garden with the best design for education in landscape water conservation.

Award of Excellence (up to 16)
Awarded for outstanding features best meeting the award description and demonstrating excellence in the category. If no garden presents a strong value in a category, that award will not be presented. Judges have the discretion to add awards if a garden demonstrates a strong aspect not covered by categories specified.

  • Most Educational
  • Most Dramatic
  • Best Appeal to Children
  • Best Specialty Garden
  • Best Interpretation of Theme
  • Compatibility of Plant Materials
  • Combination of Plant Materials
  • Best Home Landscape
  • Best San Diego Adapted Garden
  • Most Creative Use of Space
  • Best Intimate Garden
  • Best Water Feature
  • Best Use of Hardscape
  • Best Interpretive Signage
  • Best Topiary

Perfection in Nomenclature
Awarded to each garden that perfectly identifies and labels all plants in its garden with proper botanical nomenclature.

Outstanding Plant Specimen
Additional awards will be made by a team from the San Diego Horticultural Society for outstanding plant specimens. Criteria include health and overall appearance of the plant, rarity, and horticultural merit.

Judges decisions will be final