A preview of Canada Blooms

It’s March. We’re fed up with winter and ready to run a little wild. And – surprise – so is good old Canada Blooms.

Toronto’s annual flower fest is shaking off the cobwebs this year with its theme, Wild. Don’t expect to see all those oh-so-sophisticated gardens laid out for dainty tea parties. The folks behind Blooms (the Landscape Ontario trade association and the Garden Club of Toronto) have set their minds on bringing nature home.

Gardens go Wild

You can look forward to seeing gardens that celebrate untamed nature, gardens that encourage natural play space for kids and gardens that find ways to bring the wild into our own city life. Some examples:

Canada Blooms brings nature indoors. PHOTO: Mary Fran McQuade
Canada Blooms brings nature indoors.
PHOTO: Mary Fran McQuade

• A garden that puts us in the heart of the Canadian wilderness and encourages us to experience the wild spaces that still linger in pockets hidden throughout our city. Native plant material, large and small, surrounds a series of scaled-down streams, waterfalls and ponds (designed by Bienenstock Gardens).

• A “vibrant urban wilderness” that combines the realities of urban life with nature’s unique ability to relax, soothe and calm the human spirit. Rugged stone, aged steel and free-flowing plantings – literally up, down and sideways – breathe life into Creative Garden Designs’ interpretation of the Wild theme.

• The combo of nature and human creativity in the garden by Parklane (known for their large traditional garden designs). Natural art and mossy furniture set the stage for a yurt (one of the earliest forms of human housing) where local authors, poets and nature experts will be reading and meeting the public.

• A typical suburban backyard space that moves the indoors to the outdoors, complete with fireplace, splash pool and kitchen (from Royal Stone Landscaping and Design and designer Ryan Heath).

• The town of Goderich’s garden, billed as a visit to “Ontario’s West Coast,” brings together a wildflower meadow, farm garden, boardwalk and colourful beachside water feature.

• A tiny taste of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way that runs 2,400 km from the tip of Donegal to Cork. Sponsored by Tourism Ireland, the garden features a gardener’s cottage, picturesque tumbledown wall and mini-pasture stocked with friendly “sheep.”

Wait, there’s more…

Besides the fun new feature gardens, you can also find some of your old favourites (or at least some of my favourites) at Canada Blooms again this year. Make some time to venture into the Toronto Flower Show to see the clever flower designs (no one calls them “arrangements” any more) in the many competitive classes. The best of the best in home-grown plants and garden photography are also part of the show.

The pros have their own area to show off their amazing skills in the Floral Runway, which showcases big, lavish floral designs that are often larger than some of the visitors. You may even catch a glimpse of some of the designers freshening and primping their beauties from day to day.

For shoppers, the marketplace will be open for business, with hard-to-find items and even a few bargains. Special workshops (register in advance), free talks and demos complete the program for the 10-day event.

I confess, I love Canada Blooms. People grumble that it’s crowded – try to go after 3 p.m. on weekdays, when the tour groups clear out. That it’s expensive – but it’s not that much, if you look at it as a full day of entertainment. That it’s the same thing, year after year – well, yes, that’s sort of the way gardens are.

But, if you don’t go away in March, Canada Blooms makes a darn good holiday.

Canada Blooms runs March 14 to 24, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., except Sunday, when hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place. The cost is $20 for adults with discounts for seniors and students. All tickets also include entrance to the Metro Home Show held at the same site. Get more info and the best ticket prices at canadablooms.com.


Mary Fran McQuade is a hobby gardener and freelance writer

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