Canada Blooms 2019

Each year, Toronto hosts the largest garden & flower festival in Canada and 2nd largest in North America – Canada Blooms.  This year, the theme was “It’s a Family Affair” which was reflected in the numerous kid friendly areas and playstations, as well as the garden designs that encourage time spent outdoors with the whole family.

Giant "outdoor" games drew in both kids
and those that were still kids at heart

My Favourite Display - “The Growroom”

The Growroom display was a collaboration between Ikea and Arrel Food Institute at the University of Guelph.  It was developed in Ikea’s future living lab which is exactly what it sounds like - a lab where they come up with innovative ideas for a more sustainable way of life.

The Growroom

The Growroom consists of 6 tiers that hold a mixture of ornamentals, herbs and greens.  What I found most exciting about it, however, was what was on the inside:

Check out the wrap-around bench - what an awesome "green" space!

Can you imagine having something like this in your garden?  Surrounded by all that green with the cool breezes coming in between the tiers - it would be a welcome refuge in mid-summer.

The vision for this spherical "green"house is that it can be set up as a neighbourhood garden to supply sustainably grown food.  It doesn't have an irrigation system, however, so I’m not sure how practical it would be, especially during the super hot summers we've had lately.  It’s also a bit too tall for easy access to those top tiers - although I suppose you could stick with ornamentals up there and use a wand to water.  Nonetheless, I simply LOVE the overall concept and can see it being the impetus for a lot of creative growing in the future, both indoors and out.

Cliff City by Ecoman

Cliff City equates the dry, rocky conditions that exist in areas such as the Niagara Escarpment to today's concrete jungles.  An inner city balcony is seen as a very similar environment to the edge of a cliff – hot, windy, and dry - so why not look to the species that thrive in those conditions when we green our balconies?  Wild Geranium (geranium maculatum), Harebell (campanula rotundifolia), Christmas fern (polystichum acrostichoides) and Nodding Onion (allium cernuum) are only a few of the options presented.

Now look at this representation of the Cliff City vision:

Hypertufa towers house plants that thrive in dry, rocky conditions

We were all enthralled by these hollow hypertufa planters.  They were not only planted up on top, but also had 4” planting holes drilled into the sides, on a diagonal.  Love it!

Fusion Garden by Landscape Ontario

Fusion gardens are all about creating a beautiful garden in an environmentally responsible manner.  Last years Fusion Garden at Canada Blooms was amongst my favourites and this year is no different.  What really blew me away this time round was the ingenious way in which they've dealt with water runoff.

How cool is that?  And I LOVE the moss at the bottom of the falls

Essentially, water from a downspout filters through a rocky river and creates a waterfall down the side of the wall.  But that's not then goes under the walkway on it's journey to the rain garden.

The water flows underneath the walkway towards
a "river" bed that ends at the rain garden

Ingenious!  I would love to have some version of this design in my garden - must ponder that 😊.

Flower Show presented by the Garden Club of Toronto

I’m not much one for flower shows as I find most displays too formal for my tastes - I suppose it’s the nature of the beast when you have to abide by so many rules.  But that didn't stop me from poking my head in at the Flower Show and I’m glad that I did – a few of the exhibits were right up my alley.  First up were a couple of succulent planters – not a surprise, really, as I’m a sucker for succulents!

When I went to the section on “forced” plants, there were the standard paperwhites and forsythias…and then there was this guy:

Dogwood branch

Look how pretty!

A simple dogwood – a shrub that many of us have in our gardens and don’t pay any mind to during the winter months.  Now this is definitely something that I plan to try next winter.

Butterfly Habitat by City of Toronto

The City of Toronto created a butterfly habitat display and one thing in their presentation really had tongues wagging (I know this because of my nonchalant eavesdropping ways 😉):

Bolting kale!

How’s that for forward thinking?  I love that we have come to a point where the sight of a bolting vegetable and all the lovely pollinators buzzing around the blooms (not at Canada Blooms, of course, but you know what I mean!) incites exclamations of delight instead of groaning disapproval.

Goodies Brought Home

I can’t talk about Canada Blooms without doing a bit of show and tell about what I brought home.

First – look at this beauty:

Mark's Choice Round Point Shovel

We had our GardenComm meeting at Canada Blooms and I was lucky enough to win this Mark’s Choice shovel - with a stainless steel blade and hardwood handle, this is one solid, heavy-duty piece of equipment.  If you don’t live in Canada, you may not have heard of Mark’s Choice as it’s a Canadian brand  available only at Home Hardware (a 100% Canadian owned company).  If you live in Canada, however, Mark Cullen has been a household name in the gardening world for decades.

You know what’s really weird about winning this shovel?  One of our round point shovels – which got used the most, by far - broke last year (dang bamboo grass!) so a replacement had been on the list.  What are the odds?

I also received a copy of “Gardening with Emma” – a kid to kid gardening guide.  I have been looking forward to giving this book a look-see ever since I had a sneak peak a couple of months ago and I’ll be doing a review on a future post.

Of course, every garden show is filled with temptation in the form of seeds, plants and a plethora of other items.  This succulent shop was incredible!

Succulents Galore

If it wasn’t for the new kitty, one of those planters would have definitely come home with me.  I also stuck to my “Seed Diet” but I didn't say anything about a plant or bulb diet 😃

I purchased tubers for 4 different dahlias – one waterlily type, two decoratives and a collerette.

Apricot Desire

This packet contains two dahlias:  Chianti and Chocolate & Candy

Edge of Joy

Dahlias require patience around here as we don't generally see any blooms until mid-late summer, but the wait is so very worth it!

And last, but most definitely not least, is something I have wanted to purchase for a few years now but I just never seemed to come across at any of my local garden centres.  A gorgeous Hellebore:

Notice all the snow still!

How glorious are these blooms??  I'm itching to get it into the ground!

We are supposed to have a good warmup tomorrow - hopefully it's enough to melt the lingering ice and snow.  As is the case every year at about this time, I'm pretty much done with winter and am very much looking forward to spring's arrival!


  1. It looks like a fun show! I love the human-size chess set. I'm a sucker for dahlias too. I ordered tubers from 3 different mail-order vendors back in mid-December and received 7 of these tubers from 2 of those vendors last week. I've no idea where I'm going to put them all (I have some I dug and stored from last year's crop too) but I'll figure out something.

    1. I have a couple of dahlia tubers in the cold cellar but I'm not sure they made it through the winter - they are not looking that great. Still doing a bit of trial and error in terms of how to store them - good thing I now have backups!

  2. That looks like a great show. I think many of the gardens at these type of events are impractical or on too big a scale for a small garden, but it's the inspiration they give which can be taken away and small aspects can be recreated, or they can plant an idea for your own garden. Well done on winning that shovel, it looks a beauty, and I love your plant choices, who can resist a hellebore or dahlias?

    1. Thanks Jo! That's very true - often it's not about the display garden as a whole, but the inspiring ideas here and there. I'm very excited about the hellebore and dahlias - now I have to find the perfect spot from which to admire them!

  3. This does look and sound a fabulous show.
    I enjoyed seeing your photographs.
    Well done on winning the shovel :)

    All the best Jan

    1. Thanks Jan - it was a wonderful day & I do feel fortunate for winning the shovel, just when I needed a new one!

  4. how delightful that garden show must be. lucky you to win that shovel. we use to live across the bridge in port huron, mi. went to toronto to see phantom of the opera. loved it. nancy

    1. The show was wonderful! Toronto has a lot to see and do and I do enjoy heading into the city once in a while (but not too often!).

  5. I like the Growroom and Cliff City - very creative stuff.

    1. I always walk away with a nugget of an idea from those types of displays that I can use in my own garden.


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