Toronto Star column – published March 7, 2015
‘Must See’ Canada Blooms
Only 6 more sleeps to the dreamy experience of Canada Blooms.
It is hard for me to believe but this year’s edition of Canada Blooms, the largest flower and garden festival on the continent, is the 19th. And I haven’t missed one. As good as previous editions of this wonderful Toronto event were, this one will be a stand-out. Here is why.
$250,000 Invested in Lighting.
The space that Canada Blooms takes up at the Direct Energy Centre (Exhibition Place) has been moved and is larger than in the past. You will have to look for it, granted, at the north end of the building (where the National Home Show, ‘Dream Home’, was previously located). That is the ‘bad’ news.
The good news is that the organisers are investing a quarter of a million dollars in lighting to enhance the best features of each professionally landscaped garden. Bring your camera as you will have better opportunities to take great pictures at this year’s event than ever before. The ceiling is lower here than in the past when Blooms was located in the cavernous west side of the building where the ceiling vaults up to 60 feet high.
Landscape lighting is a sector of the industry that is taking off. Here you will see why it is a great option for your landscaping dollars: safety is enhanced and the time spent enjoying your garden is extended every evening that the lighting comes on.
The new location for this event is located on solid ground: unlike previous years, there is no underground parking beneath it. This means that landscapers, who dealt with weight restrictions in the past, can now be as ambitious as they wish with large rocks and heavy timbers. Expect to see larger features as designers take advantage of this added freedom.
There is more space devoted to the feature gardens (the #1 attraction at the festival every year) and the Floral Hall will be expanded, providing more space for the International Flower competition and the amateur show that is put on by the Garden Club of Toronto.
New at Blooms
There is a lot of ‘new’ at Blooms this year. Here is a short list of some of the features that I am really looking forward to:
1. Landscape Ontario Otium Outdoor Exercise Garden. Experience a vertical version of an ‘exercise’ garden including a natural climbing wall. Landscape Ontario, the industry trade association that owns the not-for-profit festival with the Garden Club of Toronto, always puts on a classy show. Plan to stop and smell the roses (and the sweat?) in an outdoor gym.
2. Extended learning. In the past there were back-to-back AND concurrent educational sessions going on during most of the hours that the festival was open. Now there are more. Look for the Harrowsmith Learning Stage and mark your calendar for The Pond Stars from National Geographic TV.
3. My friend, Denis Flanagan, and I will open the show on the 13th, 14th, 16th, 17th and 18th at 11 a.m. We will provide an overview of the event for you and help you to plan your day. Bring a note pad and wear good walking shoes.
4. Master Gardeners. You can meet Master Gardeners in their own designated booth area plus hear them speak during a series of presentations in a classroom setting. Bring gardening questions and photos of your gardening challenges.
Master Gardeners are volunteers with a passion for gardening. They have received extensive training and each year they are required to donate time to public service in order to maintain their designation. Be nice to them and be sure to thank them for their time, trouble, and for sharing their considerable talent. The world is a better place for their efforts.
5. International Floral Competition. How do the best in the world arrange flowers and natural features to create beauty? You will find out when you visit and view 16 entries from around the world. This is the only competition in Canada of this kind. A ‘must see’ in the Floral Hall
6. The National Home Show. This is the 4th year that both Canada Blooms and the largest Home Show in the country have come together in the same facility at the Direct Energy Centre. One ticket buys you admission to both events. I could say this a hundred times, but there are always people who attend for one event and are surprised that both are going on at the same time: bonus!
Terry Caddo, the General Manager of Canada Blooms says, “At its heart, Canada Blooms will always be about a passion for gardens and flowers, with a strong focus on trends and education.” He sums it up nicely, if you ask me.
In my view the 10 day event provides inspiration for Canadians who want an early breath of spring. For that matter, this is not an exclusive audience as Americans and other visitors from abroad are attracted to this amazing event each year.
As a gardener I am not surprised to see people from all over the world at Canada Blooms. Perhaps this is due to the language of flowers and natural beauty, which is understood by all and crosses every possible cultural line. It also appeals to every generation.
I might add that kids are going to get a kick out of Canada Blooms this year, too. The Bienenstock Feature garden is back, with a new design and dramatic installation that will encourage kids to enjoy creative fun while giving Mom and Dad a break.
Top Tourist Attraction
Canada Blooms is now designated as one of Ontario’s Top 100 events by Festivals and Events Ontario. It is one of North America’s Top 100 events, according to the American Bus Association. All of this is to say that over 200,000 people are expected to enjoy the festival this year, which is one of the largest annual consumer ‘shows’ in the city of Toronto.
My advice to you is to come early in the morning or late in the afternoon for the best view of the gardens (and a good parking spot), bring your camera and plan on spending a very good part of the day, if not a couple of days, to take it all in. There is a host of people travelling here from abroad with plans to spend several days here for the show.
Canada Blooms is a reminder that we live in a great city that provides world class opportunities to enjoy events that other people have to travel a long way to see. Least we can do is check it out.
I believe that you won’t be disappointed.
Check out www.canadablooms.com for more information about the show, presenters, feature gardens, and more.