{ Archive for the ‘gardening events’ Category }

A welcome preview of Canada Blooms 2014

Last week, during one of those ridiculously freezing days, I headed to a preview for Canada Blooms. This was the first year that the preview was so early. In past years, it has taken place the morning the show officially opened. I think it was really smart to start building excitement early and give the media a glimpse of what’s in store. I know for a fact I’m not the only gardener who is planning seed orders and new garden designs, and desperately longing for spring. The event featured a honey tasting courtesy of the Toronto Botanical Garden (they were also giving away okra seeds to complement their world crop garden theme), a floral competition and a preview from some of the landscape designers and gardeners who will be working on the feature gardens. Read the rest of this entry »

A preview of Toronto Botanical Garden’s annual garden tour

Garden tours are such a wonderful way to a) gather ideas for your own garden and b) snoop around in some pretty amazing backyards. Last week, I had the opportunity to sneak a peek at five of the 19 gardens that will be open to those who purchase a ticket to Through The Garden Gate. (One- and two-day passes are available.) This is the 26th annual fundraiser for Toronto Botanical Garden’s popular tour, which takes place June 8 and 9. This year, you get to traipse around Forest Hill and South Hill – not a bad way to spend a weekend. And, new this year, a couple of food trucks will park themselves outside tour headquarters (at Bishop Strachan School, 298 Lonsdale Rd.) to feed hungry guests who need a break.

More details and ticket information can be found on the Toronto Botanical Garden website.

Here are some highlights from the gardens I previewed:

This was the first garden on our tour. It was such a private, tranquil yard. I loved the seating area on the other side of the pool, a perfect place to curl up with a book.

There were some beautiful gardens ringing this arts-and-crafts house, but the greenhouse was the star of the show!

This was probably my favourite garden. It was just so unique, filled with various art pieces, and with a really interesting planting style.

I love how the steel rods mimic a fence here. There is space between the "fence" and the real privacy fence that hides the yard from the street.

This yard was another treat. The owner led me into the back garden and explained how she's been at it for about 19 years. The garden has evolved and now includes a small patch of grass for her grandchild.

That post-show over-inspiration buzz

So the Calgary Horticultural Society Garden Show was, as expected, totally great. And I’m not just saying that because I was on stage.

Super fun once I got over the nerves. Lucky sneakers helped.

My biggest take away was from urban farmer Kevin Kossowan, who (among other things) grows veggies year round in Edmonton. Yes, Edmonton. My hometown, winter wonderland, outdone in nasty winter-ness only by the likes of Winnipeg.

Watch Kevin extend his super awesome cold frame

Kevin’s passion rekindled my commitment to all things edible. I learned how to tweak my cold frame design, and how to plant it better. I learned what a “shoulder season” is (the normally underused planting/harvest time in spring and fall). I find myself once again considering building a root cellar. I find myself itching to pull out the shovels as soon as I’m home. I find myself…

driving home in a snow storm.

And buried under it for the last three days.

I love Alberta.

Me at the Calgary Hort Show… when did I become an expert?

This weekend is the Calgary Horticultural Society’s Garden Show. It’s a fantastic show, with top-notch learning opportunities and inspiration. I’m super excited, as I was last year.

But this year I’m also really, really, nervous. Anxious, even.

Somehow or other, writing this blog for the last few years has given several people the notion that I know a fair bit about this gardening biz. Which, if I may toot my own horn, I do. But not much more than anyone else who’s been at it as long as I have, probably.

Tell that to the people who asked me to be a speaker at the show.

Tell that to the me of last January, who accepted the invitation.

My topic is, “How to start gardening in Calgary.” How’s that for wide open? All of the many places I could go with that have been playing out in my head, on paper, and in software for the last several weeks. I think I’ve got it honed down to a digestible size. And I’m going to have fun with it, I know I will.

But I’m still trying to figure out when I went from experimenter to expert.

If you’re coming to the show, I’m at the ‘How-to’ stage at 1:15 on Saturday. Come cheer me on… or heckle, as you see fit. And definitely come say hi.

 

Win tickets to Canada Blooms

I can’t believe Canada Blooms is only a week away. Where has the winter gone? I’m not lamenting that it’s almost over, that’s for sure, but it went by pretty quickly. I posted a wee preview this morning just to highlight a few of the gardens I’m looking forward to seeing.

This was one of my favourite gardens last year: "The Rebirth of Roncy" by Sara Jameson of Sweetpea's.

I have two pairs of tickets to give away. They get you into both Canada Blooms and the National Home Show, which are co-located at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto from March 15 to March 24. To win, please leave a comment below telling me what you’re looking forward to seeing at Canada Blooms. Two responses will be selected at random Monday, March 11, 2013.

Contest closes March 11, 2013 at 12 p.m. EST. Open to all residents of Canada, except those in Quebec. Not open to any TC Media employees, their families, or any other persons with whom they reside. 

Good luck!

Previewing plants from President’s Choice

The annual President’s Choice Lawn & Garden Insider’s Report luncheon is a hot-ticket event for garden writers, because we get to turn our plots into trial gardens. This year, a room at the Toronto Botanical Garden was turned into a greenhouse so we could preview all the hot new plants that we’ll find at garden centres this spring. And let’s face it, most of us will make it to one of Loblaw’s parking lot nurseries at least once. Who doesn’t love buying a chicken, a Joe Fresh T-shirt and a dahlia or two in one shopping trip? Plus, I have to say their plants are always top-notch and affordable. I was able to chat with some of the growers, as well as listen to them tell the whole group of us about their breeding programs and their latest innovations.

Here are just a few of the plants I’m excited about. I’ll be including others in a “Hot plants for 2012″ piece premiering next week! Also premiering next week is the Lawn & Garden Insider’s Report. Keep an eye out for it in stores!

1. Haskap berries
To be honest, I had never heard of these little gems until Signe Langford wrote about them in her 2012 “new edibles to try” piece. Apparently they taste like a cross between a raspberry and a blueberry. Apparently you need two different varieties to get adequate pollination. I got ‘Indigo Gem’ and ‘Indigo Treat’. Excited to see how they grow–and to taste the berries!

Haskap berries

2. Brunnera Jack Frost
This will be one of my first purchases from the nursery this year. Named “perennial of the year” for 2012, brunneras are deer-resistant and shade-loving. This will be a perfect plant for the back of my lot where the tree canopy casts a giant shadow for most of the day, and where the deer enter the yard if they’re in the neighbourhood!

Brunnera 'Jack Frost'

3. Suncatcher Pink Lemonade Petunias
Last year it was the black petunia. This year, it’s all about pink lemonade. The colour on these blooms is just so unique and pretty, and they’ll contrast nicely with most other hues.

Suncatcher Pink Lemonade Petunia

4. Lanai Verbena Twister Pink
This pretty little number is so unique with its ring of miniature, two-toned blooms around a hollow centre. These will be fantastic for pots. I have a cone-shaped bamboo wall planter that I bought at the Ideal Home & Garden Show in Hamilton. I think one or two are destined to be included in it!

Lanai Verbena Twister Pink

5. PC Vegetables in a Cage
President’s Choice always has great edible plant offerings for both small and large spaces. A couple of years ago it was the upside-down, hanging tomato basket, last year it was the salad bowl garden. This year they’ve introduced vegetables all potted up with a cage around them. All you need to do is add water!

PC Vegetables in a Cage

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).

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!

 

Pages: Prev 1 2 3 4 Next