{ Author Archive - Tara Nolan }

Walking through and flying over Floriade

Unfortunately, I’ve been without wireless for the last few days, so I was unable to post. But I’m back! Last Friday was all about Floriade. One full, magnificent day that took my mom and I through hectares of gardening innovations and design. A quick shuttle bus ride from the Venlo train station took us right to the gates. There are five distinct areas to see: Environment, World Show Stage, Education & Innovation, Relax & Heal and Green Engine. We plotted an efficient route, using the cable car with its amazing 360-degree views of the whole expo to take us from one side to the other. (Warning: Whatever you pack, be sure to include comfortable shoes! You will be doing a lot of walking.) Each zone provided fresh inspiration, some of which we hope to bring to our own gardens. We also saw some amazing plants that we’ve never encountered in our Canadian nurseries.

What’s crazy about this gardening village with its multiple restaurants, buildings and gardens is that much of it will be dismantled at the end of the year when Floriade is over. The cable car has been sold to a ski resort in Austria and the land, apparently, will be used as a business park.

The exposition runs until October, so there is still plenty of time to book a plane ticket to Holland. We were lucky to be there to see a rainbow of bulbs and spring-flowering trees. But each month will bring new blooms and a lot of the plants that were teeny tiny in some of the gardens will have filled in nicely by the summer.

Our last stop of the day was the nursery and garden store. It was hard to resist some of the amazing bulbs that were for sale! My mom and I aren’t the smuggling types, so we resisted. I’m hoping we’ll be able to track down some of the bulbs for the interesting blooms we saw from bulb companies at home.

I have included a few images here, but there is so much to share, I will be creating some slide shows over the coming weeks showcasing all the interesting sights and ideas that we saw.

Towards the end of our day, still with smiles on our faces! Some of the people we encountered in Venlo couldn't believe we came all the way from Canada just to experience Floriade! It was worth the trip.

Seriously, how amazing is this tulip?

Floriade is a feast for all five senses!

Touchdown in Venlo, ready for Floriade

This afternoon, my mom and I arrived in the town of Venlo. We’re here because we decided on a whim a few months back that we really wanted to see Floriade together. So we planned a trip around it. Despite being a bit weary and jet-legged, we spent the afternoon exploring the town. There are lots of signs and planters (like the one below) welcoming people to Venlo and the once-a-decade horticulture event! There is lots of shopping in the downtown area (including some cute home and garden stores), as well as quaint little bars and cafes. Despite the chill to the air, we enjoyed a cup of tea in the sunny town square, watching the world go by. Resting up now since tomorrow is going to be a big day. Stay tuned!

There are signs all over Venlo--even on the planters--welcoming people to Floriade.

Venlo has some cute home and garden stores. This is some inspiration for a future project. They were displayed outside of Fiore a Voi

Inspiration for a future project!

We sipped tea in the square in front of the town hall (on the left).

A heartwarming seed booth at the One of a Kind Show in Toronto

Yesterday I toured around the spring One of a Kind Show & Sale not once, but twice. I was there in the morning for the media preview and then I returned that evening with my husband (and some money). We brought home a few goodies (edible, wearable and for the house), including a wildflower seed kit from Kluane’s Creations. I had a fantastic chat with the woman looking after the booth. She explained how these little kits are put together. Various community groups of men and women with intellectual disabilities (and their assistants) work on different aspects of the product, from the kiln-dried markers to the little seed pucks. The materials used to put the kits together is organic, biodegradable or made from recycled materials.

I love the spirit and whimsy of the product, as well as the fact that the company is providing meaningful jobs to people in its community. I can’t wait to plant my wildflowers!

The One of a Kind Show continues throughout the weekend, until Sunday at 6 p.m.

Win tickets to Canada Blooms

Last week I wrote up my annual Canada Blooms preview where I highlight what I’m excited to see. Really, I look forward to the whole shebang, so it’s always hard to narrow down what I’m going to write about. Personally, when I get a chance to stroll around the show, I’ll be looking for ideas for my new garden (I moved in October), and in the marketplace, I hope to purchase some interesting seeds and maybe a plant or two.

This year is also a little different for me because I’m speaking on two separate days about 2012 gardening trends. My first presentation is this Friday at 3 p.m. on the Unilock Celebrity Stage. The second one is next Thursday, March 22 at 11 a.m. I’ve been busy gathering all sorts of interesting and quirky ideas to share. But I thought I’d try to get a little pre-presentation audience participation.

I have two pairs of tickets to give away. They get you into both Canada Blooms and the National Home Show, which run from March 16 to March 25 at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto. To win, please leave a comment below telling me what you believe to be the best or the worst gardening trend. Two responses will be selected at random Wednesday, March 14, 2012.

Contest closes March 14, 2012 at 12 p.m. EST. Open to all residents of Canada, except those in Quebec. Not open to any Transcontinental Media employees, their families, or any other persons with whom they reside. 

Good luck!

Win tickets to the Ideal Home & Garden Show in Hamilton


‘Tis the season for spring garden shows. They always occur at the perfect time of year: those last weeks of winter that seem to drag on the longest, when you can’t wait to get outside and start digging and pruning and clearing. On the roster is the Ideal Home & Garden Show, which takes place this weekend at the Careport Centre in Hamilton. I’ve never been, so I’ll be checking it out since I’m new to the area. Apparently there are over three acres of exhibitors, as well as full-scale displays, like an old shipping container converted into a little cottage living space—I actually dream of plunking one of these in my own garden someday. There is also a lineup of speakers, including Jane Lockhart from W Network’s Colour Confidential, and Lynn Crawford, host of the Food Network’s Pitchin’ In and author of a book by the same name that was published in January.

If you live in Hamilton or the surrounding area, I have two sets of two tickets to give away for the opening night’s Charity Night this Thursday (March 1) from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. There will be live music, a charity auction to raise funds for various community organizations, a stage segment by Reena Nerbas and Boo from Boo’s Bistro, one-on-one advice and a huge door prize. You also will get the opportunity to return to the show over the weekend.

To enter, simply leave a comment below, telling us what gardening inspiration you hope to see at the show. Two responses will be selected at random Wednesday, February 29, 2012.

Contest closes February 29, 2011 at 12pm EST. Open to all residents of Canada, except those in Quebec. Not open to any Transcontinental Media employees, their families, or any other persons with whom they reside.

Good luck!

Three quirky gardening ideas that start with the letter P

I’ve been gathering trends and quirky gardening ideas for a presentation I’m giving at Canada Blooms March 16 and 22 (full schedule is here). This afternoon I realized I had three on the go that start with the letter P and a blog entry was born.

Pallets
One thing I loved about the Toronto Island Garden Tour last summer was how the residents reused so many old objects in their gardens—from bathtubs to chunks of concrete. This brings me to my first P. What better way to use an old pallet, than to turn it into a garden? I saw this idea on Fern Richardson’s Life on the Balcony blog where she provides step-by-step instructions on how to put it all together. I hope to try this in my own garden if I can find an old pallet somewhere!

Potholes
Today, the Calgary Horticultural Society posted a fabulous link on the Canadian Gardening Facebook fan page to pothole garden pictures, like this one. The freshome site profiled Steve Wheen, who has been planting these little gems around East London. Steve writes on his blog, The Pothole Gardener, that the project stemmed from a university course, meant to be part art project and part mission to show how bad the roads are, among others.

Pink tractors
This pink John Deere tractor, posted by Ethel Gloves on Facebook earlier today, isn’t really a trend, but it made me smile. And completed my trio of Ps.

Have a good weekend!

My first holiday urn

A few weeks ago as I was leaving my local nursery, I noticed all their big containers were on sale. I’ve always wanted an iron urn, so I grabbed one before they were gone. It has sat empty and lonely on my porch–until this past weekend. Saturday I went back to that same nursery and grabbed some Fraser fir boughs and magnolia leaves. Then, I took my pruners around the yard and cut some cedar boughs, red berry clusters (I have no idea what the plant is, but it’s thorny like a rosebush) and a little bit of what I think is euonymous. Then I was ready to roll.

Last year I wrote an article about the gorgeous holiday pots Jim McMillen from Landscapes in Bloom puts together for his clients each year. I used his technique of mounding soil in the pot and dampening it a little. The idea is everything will freeze in place (step-by-step instructions can be found here). I added some sticks I had kicking around in the garage in the centre. Then, starting with the Fraser fir boughs all cut to the size I wanted, I started sticking them in the dirt around the edge of the pot, keeping a clock face in mind: 12, 3, 6 and 9. Then I filled in the spaces with the cedar followed by the magnolia leaves. Once I got to the middle, I stuck some branches with red clumps of berries at the end for colour. To fill in the spaces and add some contrast, I added a little euonymous.

I’ve included a couple of photos below. I’m really happy with the results, though because my house sits on a hill, you can’t really see the red berries from the street. But those who venture up to the house can enjoy them up close!

My Christmas urn fits perfectly in a gap beside my front stoop.

Up close you can see the contrast between all the different types of branches. I think I need to turn those magnolia leaves at the front so they're not as bunchy!

Gift-wrapping workshop: Pretty packages for botanical gifts

Let’s face it. Anything that doesn’t have hard edges can be a challenge to wrap. Which is probably why gift bags became so popular. But what if you have, for example, a pretty potted plant? You don’t want to risk spilling soil or crushing precious petals by shoving it in a bag. This is where Corinna vanGerwen comes in to save the day. Next Wednesday evening (November 16) from 6 to 9, Corinna will be hosting Paper & Petals – Holiday Flowers Workshop at RE:Style Studio here in Toronto. She will share her ideas on how to pretty up those potted plants or packages of bulbs with fine Japanese paper (an example is shown below). Participants will also get to create a medallion floral pick to take home and add to their own gift–one they wrap using Corinna’s tips, of course.

Speaking of tips, Corinna shares all sorts of fabulous advice and inspiration on her blog Corinna Wraps. She’ll even show you how to pretty up a plain gift bag in a pinch! And, she’s whipping up a little something special for CanadianGardening.com, so stay tuned for a holiday step by step!

photo courtesy of corinnawraps.wordpress.com

New garden, new mission to outsmart the squirrel population

I think my problem with squirrels is pretty well-documented throughout the archives of this blog. They changed me from an optimistic gardener into a hand-waving, cayenne-sprinkling lunatic. I think my green thumb is in for an even ruder awakening. Two weeks ago I moved from my little cottage with its modest yard to a much larger property in the town of Dundas. The yard, with its well-established cedars, peonies, rose of Sharons (roses of Sharon?) and other well-pruned shrubs, is an amazingly blank canvas. Moving in the fall means I have the whole winter to start figuring out what I want to plant, landscape, etc.

In the meantime, I picked up a few bulbs the other day from my new local nursery, the Holland Park Garden Gallery, and planted them on the weekend. As I was digging my holes, one new neighbour stopped on her way by and warned me about the squirrels and chipmunks. She was told that shaking the bulbs in talcum powder helps to remove the human scent. I tucked this bit of advice away, but unfortunately I didn’t have any powder on hand, so I kept digging.

Next, our neighbour on the north side of us gave my husband and I a tour of his garden and his wife warned me that despite buying bulbs squirrels won’t like, I had better lay down some wire mesh to keep them out. Apparently they’ll still dig up the offensive bulbs, but toss them aside and move along. So, I found a roll of some sort of synthetic mesh in the garage (I can’t recall why we would have bought it in the first place, but thought it would do the trick). It’s about a foot wide, so I cut it in strips, laid it over where I planted and secured it in place with old metal tent pegs. I’ve included a photo below.

It's not very pretty, but hopefully it will keep the squirrels away from my daffodil and hyacinth mix!

I also planted some tulips and daffodils in my front garden. They’re in kind of an awkward spot for the “mesh” treatment, so I’m hoping they’ll be okay. (Note: I just glanced outside and there are a couple of freshly dug holes. Drat!)

Well, I’m sure I have plenty of lessons to learn in this new garden of mine besides having to put up with a rampant squirrel population. Did I mention there are also rabbits and deer to contend with?

 

Bring your appetite to the fifth annual Picnic at the Brick Works

Want to eat your way through the 12 regions of Ontario without the huge gas bill? Head to the Evergreen Brick Works Sunday, October 2 (from noon to 4) for the Picnic at the Brick Works. Last year’s event featured delicacies from 72 Ontario producers and 72 chefs. You can see all of this year’s participants—producers, chefs, restaurants and beverage suppliers—on the website. And I’ve included some mouthwatering photos from last year below. The price of your ticket ($120 general admission) gives you access to all of them! The proceeds from the event “will ensure farmers and producers are paid fairly for their labour. For Evergreen, proceeds will fund children’s food gardens and cooking workshops. For Slow Food Toronto, the funds support learning gardens, and connect consumers to local, sustainable food producers.”

If you’re in Toronto or the GTA, I have 4 pairs of tickets to give away. To enter, simply leave a comment below. You can tell us what you’re excited to try or simply say: “I’m hungry.” Four responses will be selected at random September 26, 2011.

Contest closes September 26, 2011 at 12pm EST. Open to all residents of Canada, except those in Quebec. Not open to any Transcontinental Media employees, their families, or any other persons with whom they reside.

Good luck!

The Cheese Boutique

Sampling the wares of one of the participants

Frank / Thorpe's Organics

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