The most exciting time of year, for Canadian gardeners, will be here in two days. Canada Blooms, the largest flower and garden festival in the country, launches at the Enercare Centre in Toronto, Friday, March 10 through Sunday, March 19. This year marks the 21st anniversary of this venerable affair and it promises to be very special.
Joining in on Canada’s 150th birthday party, Canada Blooms will feature 17 gardens that celebrate the special occasion. Look for these highlights:
1. The Secret Path. Inspired by the story of Canadian aboriginal Chanie Wenjack, who ran away from a residential school in 1966 and died while lost in the far north. Gord Downie’s “Secret Path” album provides lyrics that are etched into stone and wood in this mammoth 4,000-square-foot project. Created by award-winning Joe Genovese, the owner of Genoscape Inc., this garden is sure to catch the attention of everyone who visits the festival this year. Joe is known for his innovation and his bold interpretation of the festival theme each year. In 2016, he won the Tony DiGiovanni Garden of the Year award and he won World Water Feature Artist of the Year in 2015.
Dean McLellan, Canada’s first and only Mastercraftsman/Examiner with the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain, is leading the stone-walling portion of the project.
2. Growers’ Grove. Much more than a garden, this is an educational and entertainment experience. Designed as a tribute to the more than 500 Ontario nursery growers, it is a great opportunity to learn how perennials, shrubs and trees are grown in our climate zones. You can meet growers and learn how to graft a fruit tree. Bring the kids for this one! And an open mind.
3. Flower Wall. While not exactly a “feature garden,” this will no doubt be the most photographed portion of the festival, as the “garden gnome” was last year. This floral tribute to Canada’s 150th will include over 1,000 flowering plants. Take a picture of it and tweet it out to qualify to win a copy of my new book, The New Canadian Garden, signed by the author, and a $25 Home Hardware gift card. Contest details at http://www.canadablooms.com.
4. City of Toronto. Back this year with a spectacular garden featuring a giant maple leaf made with red kalanchoe, with an orchid arch above the maple leaf. You will have to see it to understand it. There is a peacock as well, topiary and hundreds of tropical plants grown in Toronto at the production greenhouses in High Park. The City of Toronto is hoping to win ‘Visitors Choice Award’ at the festival again this year (as they did in 2016). Could do, too!
5. Small Space Gardens. Not one garden, but 10. Top designers are creating their interpretation of the small space garden theme. Each will put their best gardening foot forward using no more than 250 square feet. Judging by the designs that I have seen on the Canada Blooms website, they will be impressive.
Bring a camera/phone, wear flat-soled shoes and be sure to carve enough time out of your day to do this festival justice. You can’t race around Canada Blooms and tell the world that you have seen it. With over millions of dollars’ worth of plants, landscape materials and expertise invested by the members of Landscape Ontario and the Garden Club of Toronto who put on this annual event, it deserves your attention.
Fact is, Canada Blooms is a volunteer driven festival. With thousands of hours of volunteer investment and lots of cash, we have an extraordinary opportunity to see just what can be done in a typical Canadian yard or condo balcony using ingenuity, creativity and using quality professional services. The Garden Club of Toronto and Landscape Ontario make this festival happen!
Canada Blooms is for people who appreciate great taste, enjoy gardening activity and are looking for garden design ideas of their own.
Note that the Master Gardeners are on hand throughout the 10 days of the festival to answer your gardening questions. Bring pictures of problem areas in your yard or plants that are troubled. Master Gardeners are masters at untangling garden challenges, thus the name.
Canada Blooms is well known for its speaker’s forums. There are two stages on which speakers and entertainers are participating. The Unilock celebrity stage features celebrity flower arranging, “Floral designs from around the world,” Food to Grow with Frankie Flowers and my friend Denis Flanagan and I kick things off opening day at 11 a.m. and three other days early in the event.
The Hortus TV Garden solutions Stage features Owen Reeves from CTV, how to get kids gardening with Carol Pasternak, Trevor Spenser presents Art meets Ecology with Perennials, Raised Bed Revolution with Tara Nolan and so much more.
There are over 200 hours of free presentations over the 10 days of the festival.
Check out all of the exciting details at http://www.canadablooms.com.
Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, member of the Order of Canada, author and broadcaster. Get his free monthly newsletter at markcullen.com. Look for his new bestseller, “The New Canadian Garden,” published by Dundurn Press. Follow him on Twitter @MarkCullen4 and Facebook.