Sunday, March 11, 2018

Canada Blooms At the Movies - Popcorn Included!

Like everyone else in Ontario I am suffering from a massive Vitamin D deficiency.  It has been a miserably dark January and February.  In spite of this lack of light, greenhouse growers and the wonderful folks at Landscape Ontario have done a brilliant job delighting us with displays of flowers and greenery at this year's Canada Blooms - co-located with the Home Show.

The theme is "Let's Go to the Movies!"  introduced by this large bag of popcorn that magically transforms into a cascade of tiny white/yellow roses:

Supersized popcorn-styled containers are dotted throughout.

 Aside from the greenery, there are lots of photo-ops with a superhero or two...

So much fun to see Darth Vader sweeping in for his busy photo-sessions.

Would you say this is a Comedy, Crime, or Science Fiction?  Look closely to see.....kale spray-painted gold....

One of my favourites this year was the Highway of Heroes Display.  This wonderful charity's goal is to plant 2 million trees along the 401 in honour of the 117,000 Canadian soldiers killed in combat since our confederation in 1867.  There were beautiful bulbs, pretty trees in leaf, good perennials and excellent construction techniques.

How's this for fence as artwork?

I can hardly wait to see my shade plants in bloom:

For those of you who want to grow what you see, the labelling is excellent.

It's only when you get inside this little conservatory that you can really understand it's charm:

Oh for an unlimited bank account, this could all be mine!

The flower and plant vendors are top-notch.  Here's my friend Peter Wood figuring out which one of these treasures he wants to take home.

So much to see in this particular display:

One of the main messages at this year's show is that gardening is for everybody.  Some of the most avid gardeners cover their balconies with gorgeous displays.  Not only is this very attractive, but look at how many ideas you've got here:

1.  Mirrors and artwork on the walls.
2.  A growing wall
3.  Overhead lights for sparkle
4.  Tropicals that can keep you company inside over the winter
5.  Candles for soft light
6.  Trendy gold accents

I had a girlfriend who's balcony looked like this - not sure how you'd get to the wine, but it would certainly be an aromatic endeavour as your posterior brushed the basil.

Serious growing walls with really serious grow lights:

I think this one was my favourite.  Great floor pattern.  Simple lattice.  A good chair and three beautiful strongly coloured containers.

So there!  You think your balcony is tooooooo small, well the gauntlet is dropped.  You can make a garden anywhere.

How's this for having everything!  I'd like to try the sedum in the floor the next time I do a balcony design.

This is an Inconvenient Garden - a borrowed movie theme from an Inconvenient Truth.  Hmmmm.

I thought this was a very cool smaller garden.  Good colours and also quite doable in many tiny spaces.

And who could resist The Star Trek Garden?  You've got Windex to either drink or polish the place and photos of the Starship Commanders.*
*Phillips Family History Note:  William Shatner, second from the right, was declared by my Grandmother Phillips in her 80th year to be "The Answer to a Maiden's Prayers!"

Always appreciated when the floral displays are right at the edge so they can be enjoyed on both sides.

Spoiled for choice at Grow Ontario.

 And if all this wasn't enough, you really must see the floral competitions.  So very beautiful:

I think this is just about the coolest idea and I've set my mind to percolate in order to figure out where and when I can use it.  It doesn't have to be this colour, maybe something for Christmas along a fence, or on my covered deck in Easter colours.....

And now to leave you with two photos of colour - the second has Salpiglossis - one of my Grandma Stokes favourite garden flowers:

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Just One Month Until Canada Blooms!

Thank goodness for that promise of blossoms in our future.  Canada Blooms is just a short month away starting March 9th and continuing until the 18th.

I can only imagine how the greenhouses around Ontario are looking with so many bulbs and plants being convinced to perform out of season.

Here's a little look back at Bart's and my forcing efforts:

Bart with my Amaryllis display on December 12th:

Obviously he's an excellent gardener - this is what they looked like at Christmas.  (Bart finds that if he starts his bulbs mid-November, they make an excellent display over the holidays.)  The variety is Double Record purchased from Tradewinds.

And, being such large bulbs, the blooms continued through January.

But now it's February.   The highlights of the month so far have been continuous cold and snow; working around camera problems; gathering and sorting paper for tax preparation; a self-imposed austerity campaign; and a 3-month gym renewal.  

Bart has decided he doesn't like his winter coat after all and stands in the kitchen refusing to join us on a walk.  Notice how he won't even look at me.....

Fear not Bart.  While there's no chocolate, or Canada Blooms in your future, I'm thinking that we should be able to retire that coat for the season in the not too distant future.    What can I do to bring you out of your February doldrums?  Perhaps it's time to whisper those magic words in your ear, "The chipmunks are back.  Go get 'em!"

Thursday, August 17, 2017

No Summer is Complete Without a Visit to Buffalo

Kevin and I have been going to the Buffalo Garden Walk for about five years now.  This year, knowing that we'd be visiting many of the gardens at the Garden Writers Association Conference, we skipped our annual visit.  For those of you who may not know about the Walk, on the last weekend of July there is a free self-guided garden tour of over 400 private gardens.  If you love poking around other folks' gardens and enjoy talking to the gardeners who created these little bits of paradise, this is THE event of the summer season.  Around 60,000 visitors from around the world, scatter around the city to take in as many gardens as they can.  They choose a neighbourhood or two, or three or four, park the car, or their bikes and wander through the open gardens that are marked with bright yellow signs.

For any of you who have been on a garden tour, you know there's a lot of work involved in making your garden look fabulous.  And these kind Buffalonians, who had barely recovered from herds trouping through their gardens the week before, who should have been wearing their bathrobes and drinking gin and tonics, beer, wine, name your poison, on the back porch recovering from the onslaught, were beyond kind to keep up that garden-tour-fine-polish so that we could experience their gardens at their very best.

Thank you so much to our Garden Hosts!  Your gardens looked amazing and I so appreciated how much work you went to in order to have things looking so well for two consecutive weekends!

Now onto the gardens.  Several of these I've visited before, but never in August.  Who knew the first week of August was when the Allium changed colour?

Quiet colour and good shapes abound.

Old favourites and unusual bulbs throughout.

We were so lucky with the weather.  A big dump the night before tossed this bed about, but you can get an idea of its happy colour.

The back patio is perfect for watching the garden grow.

Vegetable library complete with library steps.

Up top there were healthy veggie plants enjoying the hot sunshine.

All along the road there are wonderful surprises like this piece of artwork.

A sideways dahlia.

Mine were planted far too late and all I have are leaves.  Fortunately the folks of Buffalo were kind enough to give me a taste of what I'm missing.

Ferns are fabulous.  The gardener did a great job with the pairings.

Fellow Canadian Rob Howard in the garden.

Seed heads are often more interesting than the flowers.

Not only do the gardeners who are on the tour do a wonderful job, whole communities band together to create boulevard displays.

My Kevin and Kevin Gragg from Oklahoma State University, together representing almost 13 feet of male pulchritude.

What's better than a whole pile of gardens?  Well, a whole pile, plus one more.  Our Bus Captain Sharon Webber is a garden designer.  She grabbed a couple of us -- along with the homeowner -- to show us what can be done in a tiny wee garden -- a tiny wee garden that had hosted 1400 people just the week before on the tour.

Aren't these little guys the best?!

And, no tour to Buffalo gardens would be complete without Jim Charlier's superb garden:

Many of the gardens in this 'hood are quite shady:

and beautifully cared for:

Not on the tour but note-worthy all the same:

I've been to this garden several times.  It is always a delight.  Always something new to see.

This year, the major new project has been Thurman, who was named for a Bill's player.  He is in that naughty teenage stage - and is on his lead where he can be watched carefully and discouraged from eating the rest of the yummy veranda.

There are beautiful perennials at the front and down the side of the garden.  And at the back, a great display of tender plants.

Talk about a candy store for gardeners and those who just like to have their eyeballs colour-tickled.

Count the coleus....savour the solenostemon...imagine all the pinching out of tips to produce this full collection.

This gives you an idea of just how packed with plants (and peeps) it is.

Bits of folly:

It didn't matter where you were, the view was grand:

More, not-on-the-tour planter boxes.  Fabulous shapes, colours and varieties.

A perfectly floral/colour coordinated participant Andrea Whitely from Australia:

Not only are the gardens lovely, but hand-drawn i.d. tags.  I definitely need to up my game.

You just never know where you're going to see something gorgeous.  Rounding the corner I spied this this wonderful old window inside a large stone building:

This new well-done garden shows, you really don't need grass, nor a lot of flowers if that's your style.  

So you can see that the Buffalo Style is found not only in the garden designs or the carefully composed floral selections, but in the neighbourhoods and in the gardeners who so kindly welcomed us. The best part is, if you mark your calendars for the last weekend of next July, and shuffle off to Buffalo, you too can soak up a little of this style and garden magic. And, it's absolutely free.