Canada Blooms
March 8-11th, 2006
Toronto, ON

I then sat down to listen to John Valleau from Heritage Perennials while munching on a ham and cheese sandwich – He spoke on the ‘Perfect Perennial Partners’. Flowers of perennials die back and what you have left are a lot of leaves so let the colours of the foliage play off each other. I have been trying to do that and when you are in the garden center look at those leaves because they are usually around a lot longer than the flower. Sometimes keeping it simple is the hardest thing for a gardener to do. I liken that sentence to packing – when packing for a trip, pack it all then take out half the clothes you put in. Think of other elements besides plants to set plants off, like rocks, perfectly placed benches, urns, statues.

His take this year on trends…barberries are back with a vengeance, new Zealand flax is a great pot plant and will over winter in the house, rex begonias are coming back, he loves coleous and with the new leaf shades, they are great for shade. Mexican feather grass and cannas add a great tropical feel to the garden.

For growing more succulents he had this to say – just pull off leaves and leave on a windowsill and after a while a baby will form along with roots and then you can pot them up. For elders, after they are established, hard prune them back to 6-12” from the ground to help keep their form and keep them nice and bushy. He loves cardoon and more people should try it for its gray leaves and purple fountain grass is not hardy at all, no matter how much mulch you use, so perhaps keep it as an annual and enjoy it that way.

The last speaker I had a chance to listen to was Freeman Patterson. His presentation was on his book ‘The Garden’ which I happen to have. It was wonderful to sit and look at his slides, he has such a gift of taking the right picture at that perfect moment. I am not a professional photographer but I do know that the pictures I take are my memory reminders…and he calls them his gracenotes – moments not given to us but put there for us to discover. I like that and I love going through my pictures – and sharing them with others. When I see a picture, I don’t just see it, I smell that flower, or hear the birds that were singing while I took it…he also said that it was a very good idea to take both close-ups and longshots, again something I try to do.

Now the show itself this year was very good – they were celebrating their 10th Anniversary, just like our site this year – and the theme ‘Urban Mosaic’ celebrated the differences in our cities and towns. Toronto, Ottawa and Brampton each had big display gardens with Ottawa and Brampton being the most colourful with thousands of tulips in the Ottawa garden and the most beautiful baby grand piano of red and white flowers in the Brampton garden.

The floral competition this year, presented by the Garden Club of Toronto, was quite exciting with many gorgeous floral designs. From the very tall and theatrical to the tiny shadow box – they were all here to enjoy, and all done by very talented amateur designers. If you had picked up a copy of the show guide you would have read a wonderful article on miniature floral designs, done by my friend Wendy Downing, who is one of the floral judges at the show each year.

The speakers and demonstrations each day are reason enough to attend the show – there were enough to take you through the entire Wednesday through Sunday at every hour from 11 a.m. on to days end. Plan your time to make sure you listen and watch as many as possible while still having the time to really visit the gardens – sometimes we miss a lot of the little things by being in a hurry. Mix and match your seating and walking and don’t forget you will need a bit of time to go through the Market Place.

As always, when I am in Toronto, I stay at the Fairmont Royal York. Alka and Jamie have always treated me so well that I cannot possibly think of another hotel. It is so close to the convention center – in fact you can walk from the hotel right to the show and not even go outside - this is very important to me because I happen to know what March is like in Toronto. This is what makes Canada Blooms so special, a chance to forget the weather and think spring!

Hope you enjoy the pictures and see you next year! Happy 10th Anniversary!






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