Canada Blooms Re-visited
by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams
The Combined Show
This was our second time to the Canada Blooms show. Once again we were accompanied by our good friends and resident floral experts (while Barb anyways!) Barbara and Laurence Stephenson. It was a great day and the traffic into Toronto wasn’t too bad. This year’s Canada Blooms was combined with the National Home Show to become the largest consumer show in Canada, and believe me, it was enormous! Personally, I didn’t like the entrance to the show as much as I did last year. Last year, with a “single” theme, the entrance was spectacular. This year, because of the two shows, the entrance was confusing and not nearly as exciting. The shows, (or show), itself was what you would expect, overwhelming but fantastic in what it offered ~ flowers, plants, landscaping, home renovations, tools and on and on. If you were interested in gardening, home décor, renovation, landscaping, this show was a must visit! Even though it was a large show, it was well laid out and fairly easy to follow. It was great for Laurence and me in that we could head towards the good stuff – “tolls, saunas, reno displays” while the girls head for the “garden stuff”. We did eventually meet up and enjoyed a bit to eat and a tour of the “dream home”. This is definitely a show that needs a lot of time to explore and good walking shoes. If there is just one aspect of the garden or home that you are interested in, the show can accommodate your wants and tastes. According to the show Manager, Gerry Ginsberg, next year should be even more interesting!
Canada Blooms - 2011
Spring Is Just Around the Corner...
You can always tell when spring is around the corner because of the flowers! I don’t mean that they are coming out of the ground now, after all, we are in the “frozen north”, but the “gardeners” are becoming restless! This is especially true of our friend Barb Stevenson. Barb is an avid “honest to goodness Green Thumb” gardener and I could tell, every time I saw her, that she was “restless”! Even her “less then Green Thumb” husband, Laurence, was restless! However, I had the perfect antidote, the Canada Blooms Show!
Off To Canada Blooms...
It was late Saturday morning when we climbed into Laurence’s car for our trip to Toronto and “gardener's paradise”! We quickly found a parking spot under the Direct Energy Centre and were then off to Canada Blooms. The entrance to the show, as you might expect, was spectacular!
Taking It All In...
We were greeted by a massive wall of flowers! At one end of the wall a giant video screen displayed details of the show. It’s hard to describe the scene inside the centre! Actually, it’s almost impossible, because there was so much to take in! Every where I looked, there was a riot of colour! We started to move from display to display. I felt like a “Bumble Bee” floating from flower to flower, pollinating my brain and my imagination! As we walked through the various displays, I tried to take in the skills and knowledge that went into their creations. For a non-gardener like myself, I was absolutely blown away! Instead of trying to analyze each exhibit, I decided that I would just let myself enjoy the moment of pleasure that I derived from each flower, each “work of art”! It is no wonder that gardens are so important to our world. The peace and serenity that they bring, even at the darkest moments, truly reflect the power of nature! I must admit that I didn’t understand the mechanics of most of what I saw, nor did I know the plant or flower names. I only know that I was enjoying the experience! I think that that is the essence of Canada Blooms. One can enjoy it, like me, for the shear beauty, while others can take in the "mechanics" that make all the displays so wonderful. The first part of the show we walked through, was “display” portion. The second part of the show was the “exhibit” portion. Hundreds of booths were set up, each showing visitors a vast array of products. Judi was walking the show with our friend Barb. She wanted to share her experience Canada Blooms from the “eyes of an expert”, Barb the horticulturist, and Judi and excited observer!
Walking With The Expert (by Judi McWilliams)
The Canada Blooms is a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon. It is even better when you are sharing the experience with a friend and gardening expert. I am already a recipient of Barb’s horticultural experience! Last year I received an exquisite bouquet of fresh bright orange jack-o-lanterns, freshly picked from Barb’s garden at their new home in Brighton Ontario. These brought back many found memories of times spent with my Grandmother and my Mom in their gardens. As a recipient of the “thistle” award for several years in a row, my Grandmother was an expert like Barb. Sadly, I did not pay enough attention to the names, the techniques and all that could have been learned from my Grandmother. However, as a child, I was too busy "running through the gardens", not "working in them"! The Festival Nomad and I have a system of walking a show, but, this all went out the window with the Barb. This time I was fortunate to be able to “see” the show through Barb’s eyes and experience! She helped me see things I would never have stopped to look at, let alone understand. Barb, being so invigorated, helped me become excited too.
Knowing Their Stuff!
One booth we visited sold Lily bulbs. There were so many varieties, colours, sizes, shapes and so on, that I asked Barb how she picked her selections over the years. Simply she tells me … “I choose which bulb to purchase by its name. If I like that name that’s what I buy. I also will purchase an entire collection of the named bulb. As an example, one series that she purchased was the "Star Series"." From my past experience visiting Garden’s Plus in Peterborough and having spoken to Dawn, the owner and a Daylily expert, I knew enough to ask this booth's owners how long they had “harvested” their Lilies. They replied, about 6 years. Again from my Garden’s Plus knowledge, I knew that this was a reasonable amount of time to cultivate a selection of Lilies. (A little knowledge could be a dangerous thing!) One booth we visited had a single bulb of a gorgeous (I’ll grant you that), but $90.00 single plant bulb. How awful would it be to have it not root and die right away. I wanted to know from Barb if, when purchasing bulbs, she took into consideration the reputation of the establishment. How and when do you know to “trust” the suppliers? I found out that true gardeners invest years of “doing their homework”, through seminars, lectures, visiting garden centers, support clubs and organizations, libraries, internet and so on. They “know their stuff”!
With the Canada Blooms show being jam packed with people, I asked Barb if these visitors were “true gardeners” or were they just “lookers”, getting ideas for their hired professional help? "Oh no" she replied, "these are down to earth gardeners, the real deal”! I also learned from Barb’s husband, Laurence, some of the protocol when visiting Barb’s garden. He said quietly “Hands off, it’s her baby! She knows her stuff and you don’t mess with it!”. I looked at Laurence and saw how serious he was. I will take care when visiting in anyone’s garden from now on! I won’t be “running through like a child anymore”. Besides seeing and learn from Barb, it was amazing to see her eyes light up when we hit the market place! The first booth stood out like a “green thumb”, Lee Valley, a gardener’s/outdoor adventurers delightful dream! This is where the guys (Festival Nomad and Laurence) lost us. Barb and I fluttered from booth to booth, at times overwhelmed with the variety of items, from outdoor furniture, bulbs, plants, flowers, to purses, jewelry, knick-knacks! Barb gravitated to one booth that sold outdoor thermometers (since the one they had just purchased in Arizona broke right when they got home).
Loosing the "Guys"...
The “guys” were going to meet us at the end of this isle in a "bit". A "bit” for Barb and I turned out to be over one hour, we hadn’t even finished the isle and the guys had completed the rest of the show! It is fun to visit such a complete show and Canada Blooms has something for everyone! Not all was lost for the guys. Laurence, a true "Scots, English, Irishman", got his “fix” at a British candy shop and shared his knowledge of orange chocolate “Club” bars and “Penguin” chocolate bars with us. I would be remiss, if I didn’t tell you that we did enjoy some indulgence during the our day. This included a delicious cup of "Joe" and a "yummy" fresh cheese Danish. The Canada Blooms even had “healthy” food choices along with tables to sit and enjoy a snack or lunch. On our way back through the market, I showed Laurence all the items that Barb “wanted to purchase”. Fortunately, most of what she wanted, just simply would not have fit in the car, including the eight foot metal “heron” rod for their garden. Perhaps ordering “on-line” will be the way to go for Barb. I was exhausted by the end of our show explorations! However, once we came back to the entrance/exit, I seemed to become rejuvenated! The aromas, the sights and the sounds of the water displays, all brought me back to the main reason for the Canada Blooms, the shear enjoyment of all the "gifts of nature" we are so blessed with!