Aldona at Large: Buckets of Fun

Canada Blooms sap bucket display created by Quebec’s Reford Gardens (Jardin des Métis)

Never mind the calendar, the gardeners’ spring has officially sprung. Brave bulbs are pushing their sturdy maroon and green snouts out of the soil, and the squirrels are having a field day trying to dig them up. Here at the TBG, a noticeably leaner Mr. Fatso, the world’s chubbiest groundhog, has been spotted rubbing his eyes and emerging from his long winter’s nap. Doubtless he’ll soon be playing havoc with young shoots and “building up his strength.”

Tarnation, where’s Yosemite Sam when we need him?

Bamboo and amaryllis tunnel at Canada Blooms, created by Bruno Duarte of Fresh.

Of course, two of the earliest harbingers of a garden writer’s spring are the annual Garden Writers Association luncheon, where we get to catch up with many of our fellow scribblers, and Canada Blooms.

Writers come from far and wide to attend this luncheon, which is held at Blooms. Among them this year was Alberta’s Donna Balzer, seen here addressing the crowd. Donna is the recently elected president of GWA District VII (which encompasses Canada and the Rest of the World—no, I’m not kidding). Thanks go to Donna, Steven Biggs, Ken Brown and Wendy Downing for organizing the seminars, the lunch and, last but never ever least, the swag. And to Don Finck of Fiskars for once again sponsoring the eats and vino, and showing off all the latest and greatest Fiskars garden products and providing plenty of samples, too.

Canada Blooms was great fun this year. If you missed the show, here are just a few highlights:

The TBG’s pop-up shop and info area were a hive of activity, thanks to all the hard work of TBG volunteers, Toronto Master Gardeners, and TBG staff.

Our book corner had a number of authors signing their latest, including Frank Ferragine (Frankie Flowers) flanked here by the TBG’s Nancy Eaton Director of Horticulture Paul Zammit and Creative Director Jenny Rhodenizer.

Touring the show, I was much taken with a new concept from talented landscape architect Shawn Gallaugher. He calls his idea Otium,* and it is a well-designed garden that cleverly doubles as an exercise/workout area. Every square inch of this garden has a purpose and is part of a workout circuit, yet also looks handsome in and of itself. Heck, I feel leaner and fitter just thinking about it. Find out more at

*According to Wikipedia, “The concept of the Epicurean otium (private world of leisure) and the contemplative life were represented in Eipcurus’ school of philosophy and his garden.”

The garden created by Parklane for my friends at Tourism Ireland, who kindly sent me on a wonderful garden trip last fall that I wrote about in this blog, won the People’s Choice award at Blooms. This year, Ireland is celebrating the Gathering, and everyone is invited to visit (

Throughout the show, the Unilock Celebrity stage had lots of great speakers and lively demonstrations, such as those given by the irrepressible Neville MacKay, who created flirty floral arrangements bedecked with lots of bling.

And as always, there were competitions featuring stunning floral displays created by super-talented members of various garden clubs from Canada and around the world. This one especially tickled my fancy. Judy James of the Garden Club of Toronto entered this “cake” in the “Devilish” category, where it won first prize. Although it looks good enough to eat, it’s actually composed of a medley of plant materials including Galax urceolata, Catalpa beans, Schinus molle, Zizania palustris and Rosa.

I’m very much looking forward to starting my next floral design class in early April—and yes, I’m still chipping away at earning my Floral Design Certificate, and I’m getting pretty close. If you’re interested in learning about floral design, look here.

Dr. David Galbraith of the Royal Botanical Gardens addresses the crowd

On a more serious note, I was proud to be asked to be a co-host at the two-day Garden Tourism conference that took place during Canada Blooms and brought together representatives of botanical and public gardens and arboreta from all over the world, paired with marketing and tourism folks. It was a fascinating and very useful exercise to determine ways in which we can better work together to market and promote our respective gardens.

And the food was none too shabby, either.

However, I had to smile at this sign placed at the spot reserved for Canadian Gardening’s online editor and blogger Tara Nolan. She’s slim as a wand and certainly no “glutten.”

Things That Make Me Happy

It was short and sweet, but I had a wonderful weekend visit with my son, Mark, and his girlfriend, Carla. Some months ago, Mark, who is a writer/director/producer/musician, took the giant leap and moved to Los Angeles to further his career. Not only is he doing well and having a marvelous time, but he has also fallen madly in love.  Although he is much missed, I am so glad that he’s happy. After all, alongside good health, what more can we wish for our children?

Happy Passover, Happy Easter, and happy spring!

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