Last year, I was among those who sharply sucked in their breath when it was announced that Canada Blooms would co-locate with the National Home Show. Like many other gardeners and garden scribblers, I feel a particular kinship for Blooms, as it’s always been “our” show, if you know what I mean. And Blooms running for 10 days instead of five? “Lord have mercy, the extra work will kill us,” I thought.
Well, the extra work may STILL kill us (though hats off to the Toronto Master Gardeners, TBG volunteers, and stalwart staff for all your fabulous, ongoing help), but I must say that the partnership has injected a new energy and brought new folks into “our” show, and that’s a Good Thing. In fact, this year’s show offers a bumper crop of great ideas, inspiration and “take-aways” for the home gardener. What’s more, you get two shows for the price of one, as your Blooms ticket also gets you into the National Home Show, should you be so inclined. In these days of universal belt-tightening, surely that’s a Good Thing, too. (To save even more, come in the evening when parking is free. Find out all you need to know about going to Blooms here.) Note that the two shows are separate and distinct—no wading through reams of home stuff if all you want to see is gardens.
The indoor conditions at Blooms are dry and very tough on plant material, and few plants can stay perky beyond five days. To keep things fresh for the 10-day duration of the show, those brave souls who have created gardens (or flower arrangements) will be refreshing them midway through. Phew, that’s more than we at the TBG can handle, so this year we opted instead to create a shop-to-go and two speakers’ series, and participate in the Canada’s Garden Route Lounge area—Toronto Botanical Garden is a proud founding member of Canada’s Garden Route (www.canadasgardenroute.ca).
The creative eye of our Nancy Eaton Director of Horticulture, Paul Zammit, and the organizational skills of volunteer Martha McKee, shown here, not to mention the set-up wizardry of staff members and volunteers Jenny, Walter, Alvin, Albert, Heidi, Trish, Paulina, Uli, Jessica, Anastasia and many other able and willing hearts, minds and hands, has ensured the shop area is up and running and looking great. Thanks too to Gerry Ginsberg and Colomba Fuller of Canada Blooms for giving us such a good spot—right near the main stage.
Our little book nook and signing area are very popular, and authors have been pleased with the response. To see when your favourite gardening author is signing this week, click here.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a TBG area without some of Paul’s fabulous plant selections. Just look at these yummy succulents! And Paul has brought in some very special hand-thrown TBG terra cotta pots that are made in Ontario and frost-proof. I bought one of the larger ones, with little terra cotta pot feet to match.
The TBG is running a Cityscaping speakers’ series on the main stage, while our head gardener, Sandra Pella, is presenting a garden basics lunch and learn series in the Master Gardener EZ Pond Gardening Solutions room (sorry for this feeble photo, Sandra) where she’s tackling subjects such as plants, prep, pruning and more. After the first session, someone came up to me and said, “I thought I knew quite a bit about gardening, but I sure learned a lot today from Sandra. She was terrific!” And there’s more to come. To see the speakers’ schedules, click here.
But enough about us. Here are just a few of the other things that caught my eye at Blooms:
This is a planter fence created by the clever students at Humber College for their “Urban Homestead” garden. Isn’t it a good idea? You could construct this in partnership with a good neighbour, and still enjoy quite a bit of privacy. If you lined the boxes and drilled holes in the bottom, you could plant them up with all manner of nice things…
…such as veggies, or herbs. Angle the boxes so both you and your neighbour can reap the benefits in equal measure—imagine this in a smallish garden with limited space—privacy, bounty and breezes, too!
And this is genius. I stopped by to visit my good pal Beckie Fox, who’s the editor-in-chief of the excellent GardenMaking magazine (I, ahem, have the guest column in the current issue) at their very pretty garden booth. All of the plants on display are new introductions that have been forced by Roger Tschantz, and just look at this info. All the plants on display have it. You can even click onto the QR code with your cellphone. Memo to self…
The Green Zone/Active area was devised by Canada Blooms creative director Colomba Fuller. The green walls were created by Urban Garden (urbangarden.ca) and Bin Fen Green Wall System (binfengreenwallsystem.com)
And Alexander Reford of Jardins de Métis (Reford Gardens) in Quebec (www.refordgardens.com), always brings something interesting, thought-provoking and yes, controversial, to Canada Blooms. The installation is called “Surface Deep” and comprises 210 white boxes that contain pocket gardens of moss with central plantings. It was created for the gardens’ 2011 edition of the International Garden Festival by Asensio_mah, a multi-disciplinary design collaborative established by Leyre Asensio-Villoria and David Syn Chee Mah in 2002. www.asensio-mah.com
It was refreshing to see the work of so many new designers this year. This garden, celebrating the rebirth of Roncesvalles, was created by Sweetpea’s. www.sweetpeablooms.ca
And this one, dubbed the “Artist’s Garden”, was designed by the Williams Design Studio.
Juno Rocks is back, celebrating the music of Feist, Sarah Slean, Royal Wood and Jann Arden through gardens. “Meadow Unplugged” was inspired by Jann Arden’s country property in Alberta, and created by North 44 Land Design/Garden Retreats.
Of course, Blooms wouldn’t be Blooms without stunning arrangements of–blooms! I was knocked out by the work of some of the most talented floral designers in the city, such as this creation by my fellow Toronto Master Gardener and ethical florist extraordinaire Joe Delarge of Eco/Stems (www.ecostems.ca) And don’t miss the stunning designs-for-competition created by members of The Garden Club of Toronto and many others—both local and international. All I can say is, “wow!”
Garden writers like me look forward to the big annual Garden Writers Association meeting, luncheon and swag-fest that’s always held at Blooms—tickets sell out months in advance. It’s fun to meet up with your garden writer pals, some of whom you only see at this event—this year, I sat next to my old friend Larry Hodgson from Quebec City. Here, Gerry Ginsberg, executive director of Canada Blooms and Blooms board members Jill Fairbrother and Mark Cullen arrive to bring greetings from Canada Blooms.
Look at this bouquet of beauty, comprised of my pals Liz Primeau, Lorraine Flanigan, Sonia Day, Sara Katz and Lorraine Hunter. Everyone was happy to see Liz finally up and about—a broken ankle and fractured leg kept her housebound most of the winter, but at least she finished her new and very entertaining and informative book about garlic! Liz will be on hand at the TBG booth next Saturday at 3 p.m. to sign copies.
And in case you’re wondering, this year’s “it” plant at the show is Medinilla magnifica, which originates in the Phillipines but is grown right here in Ontario by Ted Oorsprong of Northend Gardens in Jordan Station. The garden writers each received one to trial—it supposedly blooms for many months (mine’s not fully open yet) and likes dry conditions. Sounds like the perfect no-fuss plant to me. Find out more at www.medinilla.ca. Ted told me he’s spent some three-and-a-half years developing this plant for our market. Nice work.
I’ll leave you with this image. The inner editor in me can’t help but notice typos, and this one is a 20-foot-wide whopper. I guess somebody’s spellcheck was off. But there is nothing “off” about this year’s Canada Blooms, which runs through next Sunday. Don’t miss it.