{ Archive for the ‘gardening events’ Category }

Are you a garden geek? Come on, admit it

By all current social measures, I can safely be placed in the category of “geek.”

I’m a librarian.

In junior high and high school, I was a “drama freak.”

I have won Star Wars Trivial Pursuit and have been known to wear a Princess Leia T-shirt.

I can fix your average computer.

I have played D&D and Magic, and read the entire Dune series.

And yes, I know what a tribble is.

In college I would still get sucked into heated discussions debating the finer points of cataloguing books. Then I’d mentally step back for a moment, listen to myself and my classmates, and think, “This conversation would make no sense and hold absolutely zero interest to anyone outside the library community. What a bunch of geeks we are!”

Since then, my geekdom has been laying somewhat dormant, only showing itself amongst trusted friends and family. I thought I had mainly gotten past it. I might never be “cool,” but maybe I could be “normal.”

I lost all hope, however, this last weekend at the Calgary Horticultural Society Garden Show. I was choosing some wildflower seeds from one of the booths and found myself gushing over the discovery of prairie crocus and shooting star seeds. I mentally observed myself spouting Latin with my fellow attendees, and imagined the eye-rolling that would occur if my brother were present. “That’s it. I thought. I am truly a geek.”

But then I had an “ah-ha” moment: we’re all geeks about something. We’re just used to using the term only about certain “somethings.” Think about it for a minute. Do you know someone who gets teary-eyed looking over the shiny chrome of a souped up car or motorcycle, and roll your eyes when they start listing off details of its construction and styling? Do you know someone who can rattle off baseball or hockey stats faster than his own Social Insurance Number? Would you call them geeks? Or someone so deeply versed in rock music they can identify a song, with artist, by it’s first riff? Do you dare use the label on them?

Simon Pegg, a guy who knows a little something about being called a “geek,” had this to say:

“Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something. It’s basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating.”

Hmmm. What’s that you say, Simon? I have a license?? Why thank you, I believe I’ll use it. I’ll spout Latin, and babble to my baby seedlings. I’ll drool over new tools and ask for compost for Christmas. I will embrace my inner geek, and, I’ll wager, be the happier for it.

Besides, normal is a setting on a washing machine.

Live long, and prosper.

Geeking out about fruit trees with the lovely Bylands Nursery people at the Calgary Hort Show.

Geeking out with Gord Koch of Olds College over green roofs, or vegetative roofs, as us geeks are calling them now…

Even if you're not a garden geek, cauliflower and olive sheep are pretty cute. "Bahay Kubo Farm," by Laura Chomyn, an entry in the "Edible Container" competition.

 

 

 

Countdown to the Calgary Hort Show

Five sleeps until I slap down a measly ten bucks (twelve at the door) and enter my first-ever, real-deal, not-just-a-trade-show, horticultural fair! Out East, everyone’s done with Canada Blooms already, and out West you’ve been enjoying the dirt for weeks now, but here on the Prairies, we’re just getting started.

A shot of last year's exhibition hall.

Looking over the lineup for the weekend, I’m thinking I could spend all day just sitting at the speaker stages: so many good professionals, and so many topics I’m interested in. That might be for the best if it keeps me from spending too much time (and hence, money!) with the many vendors, although I will make time to go see the children’s activities. I want to see the beehives from the Chinook Honey Farm in action, and find out what a seed bomb is. And I can’t miss the competition gardens. Hmmm…. I’m going to be very tired on Sunday.

I know it's geared for kids, but I wanna see too!

 

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!

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

Garden Walk Buffalo impresses

I was fortunate enough to visit Garden Walk Buffalo last weekend. With more than 350 private gardens on show, the tour is the largest in the U.S. Over two days on the last weekend in July, enthusiastic gardeners open their yards to about 50,000 walkers.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Victorian garden party

I’m headed off on holidays tomorrow, and part of our trek will take us through Victoria. I’m already drooling at the thought of all the gardens I’ll be seeing… as we drive by… *sniff*.
One stop we are making is at Craigdarroch Castle, a real, live, historic castle! (My little girls are thinking princesses, my boy is thinking storming the gate.)
As luck would have it, we will be there August 13th, the day the Castle is holding a special (and free!) Victorian garden party to mark the completion of their restored grounds! I’ll let you read all the details, and maybe I’ll see some of you there!
(That’s more exclamation points than I usually use in a month…)

In search of local food

So I got an email last week about a shindig going on up in Edmonton (my old stomping grounds) this Friday — the Sturgeon County Bounty local food event. Local chefs will be presenting food sown and grown in the area. Sigh. Too bad I’m not in the area anymore.

One of the drawbacks to country living — and I’ll admit, there are a few — is being far away from all the fun events like this one. And Home and Garden shows. And Canada Blooms. And Hort shows in general.

But I digress.

As I wallowed in my lack of County Bounty attendance, a pang of guilt struck my heart. I remembered that up the road a little out of my way is a market garden I have never visited. I’ve driven past the sign for Room 2 Grow lots of times; but usually on my way up to Edmonchuck so I’ve never justified a stop. Why am I worried about local food in Edmonton when I’ve got local food right here that I’m ignoring?

A cayenne pepper growing in the greenhouse. Also here are tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet and hot peppers.

So I repented and made a trip up there today (a whole 20 km, my odometer tells me) and had a visit with Heather, who runs the place with her husband Norm. They have about 2 acres of berries, vegetables, and herbs with the rest of their 1/4 section dedicated to raising bulls. It’s a laid back, unassuming place, with gardens of strawberries hiding behind tree lines and potato patches snuggled up against pastureland. They sell eggs, chicken, and beef as well. Heather (who is also an award winning artist) seems preoccupied with all the weeds she hasn’t pulled, but says she would “rather have it messy than have it full of who knows what.” She hands me a strawberry right off the plant and I taste the result of their zero chemical approach: the unbelievable flavor locals, tourists, and three local restaurants keep coming back for.

One of the ladybugs Norman released in the greenhouse to snack on the aphids. The Dodds rely on biological approaches like these to tackle any gardening problems.

I left with a bag full of strawberries, a cucumber, and several of the tastiest, most gorgeous tomatoes I’ve ever had.

Heather also reminded me that I have two different weekly farmer’s markets within a half hour’s drive of my house.

Drawbacks to country living, my eye.

So your challenge this week is to discover what kind of food opportunities are hiding close to you. I’ll bet you a sweet little strawberry they’re closer than you think.

Here’s a sampling of local food resources from across the country. Try Googling “local food” and your city or province.

Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association

Greenbelt Guide (Ontario resources)

Eat Local Manitoba

Select Nova Scotia

Through the Garden Gate: A peek at Swansea Village gardens

Tuesday morning, I discovered a gorgeous pocket of Toronto: Swansea Village. I’m not originally from the city and I live in the east end, so I wasn’t familiar with the streets that have homes perched above the shores of the Humber River and Grenadier Pond. That’s the beauty of the Toronto Botanical Garden’s annual “Through The Garden Gate” garden tour. You get to discover magical little neighbourhoods in the city and see how people style their yards (or how their gardeners style the yards depending on the home).

A dedicated group of volunteers and the Toronto Master Gardeners, led by co-chairs Carole Bairstow and Eleanor Ward, have worked throughout the past year to make this fundraising event possible. It takes place June 11 and 12.

I got to preview five of the homes that will be on the tour. On the tour bus, the inimitable Sonia Day, who writes a popular column for the Toronto Star, provided some colourful commentary about this quaint area that until 1954 was an independent village—and apparently many of those who live there still fancy it so. Speaking of colourful, Sonia will be displaying some of her paintings of Bloor Street Shops at tour headquarters, which is at Swansea Public School. For $10 you will be able to purchase a poster with some of the proceeds going to the Toronto Botanical Garden. Full details on tickets, prices and everything else you need to know can be found on the Toronto Botanical Garden website. Tickets sell out quickly, so be sure to get them soon if you plan to go.

Here’s a teaser of what you’ll see. But it’s only a small fraction of the gorgeous gardens that await!

Stunning views. Stepping into the backyard of 4 (top) and 19 (bottom) Woodland Heights is like entering cottage country. Both these homes feature gorgeous gardens sloping down toward Grenadier Pond.

Hopefully the peonies will still be as showy for the garden tour! This one is at 19 Woodland Heights.

Interesting art, water features and sculpture. Clockwise from top left: 27 Woodland Heights, 19 Woodland Heights, 4 Woodland Heights and 14 Riverside Crescent.

A view from the deck at 4 Woodland Heights. I loved this boxwood knot garden with the stone bird bath in the centre. If you peek over the hedge, there is an herb garden.

14 Riverside Crescent: This is my dream. A little potting shed tucked away in the corner of my yard.

Garden decor I’ll be checking out at the One of a Kind Show

This Wednesday I’ll be heading down to the One of a Kind Spring Show + Sale in Toronto with my friend and colleague, Heather Camlot. We’ll be checking out all the crafty amazingness for our respective writing gigs, but also because we’re pretty crafty ourselves and always come away feeling inspired. I really enjoy the spring show because there tends to be more outdoorsy stuff. And since I’m in the midst of creating spring gardening content, the show couldn’t come at a better time. There are also lots of other cheerful things you can pick up for spring, like clothing (I’m always on the lookout for cute frocks), jewelry and Easter gifts.

The show starts this Wednesday, March 30 and runs until April 3. Details (ticket prices, directions, hours, etc.) can be found here on the One of a Kind Show website.

Here’s a preview of some of the outdoor furniture and accessories I’ll be checking out:

Peter Trollope has modernized the Muskoka chair with an easy-to-assemble design. The seat is like a puzzle (no nuts and bolts required), which makes for easy storage.

Chad Arney scours his adopted hometown of Muskoka for old junk that he can recycle into some interesting garden sculptures. I love the idea of displaying art alongside your bushes and blooms in the garden. It looks as though you could put tea lights in the lanterns hanging from the little bird on the right.

These colourful chairs by Jardinique remind me of the wooden chairs I used to curl up on as a kid on the deck at the cottage.

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