All posts by Lisa Pascoe

How To Care for Seasonal Favourites with Mark & Ben Cullen


Mark & Ben Cullen Garden Tips

Whether you receive some plants this season as gifts or you purchase them to dress up your abode, now is the time to consider how to extend their life to maximize the pleasure that you get from them.

The poinsettia is one of the few plants that will provide reliable colour through the winter.  When you bring your poinsettia home, follow our five tips for poinsettia care:

1.  Make your poinsettia pick-up the last on your shopping trip. They do not like a cold car (or anything cold).

2. For best performance indoors, place your poinsettia in a bright room or window: remember that they originated in the dessert and love sunshine.

3. Keep from drafts: opening doors and heating vents are the enemy.

4. Do not let it sit in water.  If it is in a decorative sleeve or pot cover, either remove it or punch holes in the bottom for drainage.

5. Water ONLY when the soil is dry to the touch or, for larger plants, a centimetre below the surface.  Fertilize only after the first month if you are not ready to compost it.  Use a half strength 20-20-20 solution every 2 weeks.

Amaryllis is a plant that gives you what you pay for it.  There are specimens available for $10 or so and sometimes they are even gift boxed for that price!  But they are small-ish bulbs that produce one or two stems of small-ish flowers.

The larger bulbs (28 to 32 cm circumference) are a much better value.  They will produce up to 3 large stems and support up to 5 flowers per stem.  More colour, more show, more fun.

To get your amaryllis off to the best start possible, be sure to plant it in sterile soil (not garden soil) and press the bulb into the soil firmly giving it a gentle turn.  Leave about 1/3 of the bulb exposed, above the soil. If you plant the whole bulb, you risk the whole thing rotting before it has a chance to impress you with spectacular blossoms. Water it well and let the top centimetre or so of soil become dry between watering. Your amaryllis bulb arrives at your home in a dormant state. It will begin to grow when it is exposed to sunshine and temperatures in the range of 18 to 22oC.

As the first flower stem grows be sure to turn your plant away from the sun every second day otherwise it will tilt in the direction of the window and eventually fall over.

When the first stem begins to bloom pull the plant back into the room where there is less direct sunlight. This will have the effect of slowing down the blooming process and prolonging it, providing the maximum amount of time for you to enjoy it. The second and third flower stem usually arrive in the lower light situation, but if yours is stubborn, put it back in a high-light window and wait for the new flower stems to arrive.

Mid to late winter your amaryllis will have exhausted itself and finished flowering. Now it needs a rest, which consists of producing a lot of leaves that need the direct exposure to the sun, once again. The leaves are the food-factory of the bulb. They will convert the energy of the sun into nutrition that will be transported to the bulb to help beef it up for a reflowering period next season.

Mark’s favourite seasonal indoor plant is the Cyclamen.  Many of the new introductions over recent years have featured wonderful colour combinations and the solid-coloured plants are available in vivid shades of red, pink and white that will knock your eyes out.

You do not need a green thumb to take care of cyclamen.  Water this plant when the soil feels dry.  Gradually cut back on watering as the flowers fade and the plant goes dormant in the spring.

While in bloom, place it in a bright window.  While dormant, keep it in a cool dark place with good air circulation.  Avoid getting the soil wet while the plant is dormant as the root tuber can rot.  Cyclamen will emerge from dormancy in September.  Start watering and fertilizing regularly at this point.  Move the plant to a bright room but keep it away from direct sunlight until it blooms.

Cyclamen need relatively high humidity especially during the dry winter months.  Mist it with water every day or two and keep in the coolest room in your house for best performance.  Doing this will ensure it survives and blooms next winter.

For more advice and answers to over 10,000 gardening questions sign up for Mark and Ben’s free monthly newsletter.

Canada Blooms 25th Anniversary Magazine

Canada Blooms Magazine


2021 would have been our 25th festival, and we thought that maybe you might like to take a look back at Canada Blooms with us. We have chosen a highlight from each year, perhaps you remember them as well. There are also a few gardening tips and tricks from experts who have supported Canada Blooms throughout the years.

Celebrating 25 Years of Blooms

Our festival may be on hold this year, but that hasn’t stopped us from starting to plan for next year –- which will now be our 25th. This way we still get to have a celebration, and when we finally get to see each other again, we will be ready to party!

We would like to thank all the staff, volunteers and partners who worked hard to create our world-class garden festival for 25 years and we look forward to the next 25.

Our magazine is published on and you will be redirected to their website, just click the image below.
We suggest you view in full screen.
Please Enjoy!

Canada Blooms 25th Anniversary Magazine


Bird Feeding Tips From Ben and Mark Cullen

Cardinal Photo - Sonya Dittkrist

Mark & Ben Cullen Garden Tips

As we peer out the window this time of year, we are grateful for the birds that visit the seed heads of the ornamental grasses that we let stand over the winter.  We are so glad that we resisted the temptation to cut them down this past fall.

For the birds in your yard, now is the perfect time to attract song sparrows, chickadees and overwintering Blue Jays and Cardinals with a ‘songbird seed mix’.  Or just use straight black oil sunflower seeds.  To prevent the mess associated with sunflowers, use the hulled variety – more expensive but all ‘meat’ and no waste or mess to clean up.

Winter feeding birds need the carbohydrates and fats contained in suet.  Extra calories are a must for birds whose fast metabolisms are working hard to keep their little bodies warm.  We always hang several out for the winter.  That way, if we don’t replace one of them after it is finished, the birds always have another to feed on.

The location of your feeders is just as important as the food that goes into them: out of the harsh winter winds and, ideally, close to shelter.  Shelter can be anything from a tall evergreen pine to a short deciduous bush.  Birds will use this as protection from predators but also to determine whether or not this food source is safe.  If you watch the birds, you’ll notice they don’t fly straight to the feeder, they will perch a ways away and observe the area first.

Choose feeders with large weather protection covers.  This will keep your seed from collecting snow and ice and keep the birds a little warmer while eating.  Larger feeders are better than small ones in the winter.  You will be out there less often refilling it, which can be a challenge if it snows up to your knees overnight.

If you don’t have a problem with squirrels in the spring and summer months, we would suggest putting out an open feeder closer to the ground.  Use a mix of black sunflower and nyjer seed to appeal to a larger variety of birds.  Mourning doves, juncos, and even pheasants are more suited to eating from the ground.

Because squirrels don’t hibernate, they are still likely to find your winter feeders, just as they may have done with your summer feeders.  Squirrel-proof feeders are easy to find and most of them work pretty well.  If your squirrels seem to outsmart every feeder on the market, you might as well just feed them.  Provide them with in-shell peanuts a distance away from your bird feeders, keep it stocked, and your bird feeders will be more likely to feed the birds than the squirrels.

Looking for information on Canadian birds, visit:

For more advice and answers to over 10,000 gardening questions sign up for Mark and Ben’s free monthly newsletter.

Photo by: Sonya Dittkrist

Mark & Ben Cullen: In Favour of Real (Trees)

Christmas Ornaments

Garden Tips From Mark & Ben

Every year we receive emails asking if we recommend the use of real trees vs. artificial for Christmas.  This is an opportunity to finally set the record straight on this issue.

In our opinion, real Christmas trees are the winner, hands down.  The fresh cut Christmas tree that you buy off the lot, or from a reliable retailer, is plantation grown, not cut from the wild.  It is planted, nurtured, and harvested like any agricultural crop. This one, though, takes up to 10 years to produce a marketable specimen.

The tree that is planted in the ground is 3 to 4 years old at the time.  Therefore, the tree that you buy may be up to 14 years old from seed germination to the day that you decorate it.

Fresh cut trees are, well, fresh.  They are cut in late fall and trucked to retailers across the country in early November.   They do not ‘dry out’ while they are outdoors but they can dry out in your home quite quickly, which is why it is important that you place your tree indoors only when you are ready to enjoy it and that you use a tree stand with a large water capacity and that you keep it filled with water.

The land on which Christmas trees grow (about 40,000 acres in Canada) is generally ‘marginally’ productive farmland.  You would not want to grow a food crop on much of it as it is rocky, acidic and often hard to access.  Deer and other wildlife forage through Christmas tree farms.  They enjoy the protection that they provide, and many songbirds use the trees for nesting.


The Trees

Mark’s favourite cut Christmas tree is the Fraser fir (Abies fraseri).  It has a lovely evergreen scent, the needles are soft to the touch, it holds moisture in its needles longer than most species reducing ‘needle drop’ which further prevents a lot of clogged vacuum cleaners around New Years.

His second favourite tree is the Balsam fir (Abies balsamea), for many of the same reasons he loves the Fraser, but the needles are shorter and therefore you won’t hang as many ornaments on it.

The Scots pine (not ‘Scotch’) (Pinus sylvestris) is a native of Scotland, with long, stiff needles.  The trunk is often not straight, though a good specimen can be.  Needle retention is average.  A generation ago it was #1 on the market by far but now represents a fraction of it.

White spruce (Picea glauca) is a problem indoors.  If you are going to bring one home for Christmas, do yourself a favour and keep it out of doors until a couple of days before Christmas and take it back out a couple of days afterwards.  The needles drop like rain when they become dehydrated, which won’t take long.

We spray Wilt-Pruf on cut Christmas tree before we bring it indoors as this anti-desiccant helps to hold moisture in the needles, reducing needle drop and fire hazard.

For many Canadians, a fresh cut Christmas tree can be recycled by just leaving it at the end of your driveway for municipal services to pick it up. You paid for this service when you paid your taxes.  Wise people take advantage of it.  Much of that mulch is used in public parks in the spring to protect the root zone of permanent trees and shrubs.

So, fresh cut Christmas trees look good, smell nice, are environmentally the right choice, they produce jobs for Canadians and habitat for wildlife while growing.

We rest our case.

For more advice and answers to over 10,000 gardening questions sign up for Mark and Ben’s free monthly newsletter.

Article originally appeared in Reno & Decor December/January 2017 


Canada Blooms Names Plant of the Year 2021 – Aurora Borealis™ Rose

Aurora Borealis Rose from Vineland

Canada Blooms is excited to announce the Canada Blooms Plant of the Year for 2021 is the Aurora Borealis™ rose  from Vineland Research and Innovation Centre’s 49th Parallel Collection.

The bright dancing lights of the aurora are captured in the blooming clusters of this dramatic sunset pink rose set against dark green and glossy foliage.

This low-maintenance rose measures one-metre in height with a one-metre spread and features black spot resistance and winter hardiness across Canada.

Vineland’s 49th Parallel Collection stems from Canada’s national rose program at Vineland in collaboration with the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association.

The 49th Parallel roses are grown for both strength and beauty, and named for Canadian natural phenomena.

Visit the newly refreshed for more information on Aurora Borealis™ as well as Yukon Sun™, the next rose scheduled for release in 2023.

Mid-Way (Tips from Mark & Ben Cullen)

Around the Acres - Mark Cullen

Garden Tips From Mark & Ben

This week marks the peak performance of your garden. From this day forward, through the fading days of autumn, your garden will be in decline.

While there are some fabulous early spring flowering plants that you have enjoyed and other plants that bloom best in October that are ahead of you, many vegetable and fruit crops are yet to reach the crescendo of their ripeness. The best of their season lies before us. We are standing on the Continental Divide of the gardening season: on your right is the past 4 months where planting is history. On your left is the next 4 months. Your job is to manage the flow of the season in your favour.

Where sowing seeds, planting, and weed control dominated your thoughts and actions previously, things are now about to change dramatically. Fact is, the real productivity in your garden lies ahead of you.

What gardeners busied themselves with from April through July is now done. If you didn’t plant, sow, or weed before this, there is not much point in getting at it now, unless you are starting a new landscape altogether. We are talking about the established garden that should be flowering to beat the band and the vegetable garden that is on the threshold of producing the best crop of food ever. While our rhubarb, asparagus, strawberry, raspberry, and cherry days are behind us for this year, we still have my tomatoes and apples to look forward to. Not to mention peppers, potatoes, Swiss Chard and all of the cucurbits like squash and cucumbers, and list goes on.

The shortening days of August and September slow the growth of weeds in the garden.

For more advice and answers to over 10,000 gardening questions sign up for Mark and Ben’s free monthly newsletter.


Why Choose Unilock?

Unilock Outdoor Living


For almost fifty years, Unilock has been helping people create beautiful outdoor spaces that become treasured places to build lasting memories. It all started when our founder brought a revolutionary new paving method to North America, called the Uni-Stone. Since then, other companies have tried to follow in our footsteps, but Unilock remains the style and technology leader.

4 Reasons to Choose UNILOCK

Unilock Styles  

1.  More Styles Than Anyone Else
From the sleek contemporary look of Umbriano, to the timeless feel of weathered European cobblestones with Courtstone, and everything in between, Unilock has something for everyone. Today, we remain the only company in North America with memberships in Eurobeton and Stein + Design, two prestigious European concrete product innovation groups. These exclusive relationships continue to put us on the leading edge of style and technology.


Unilock Quality Samples  

2.  Exceptional Quality
All products are not created equal. Many products look great when they’re first installed, but after time the difference in quality shows. For over 45 years, the very best designers and contractors have relied on Unilock to supply cutting edge paving and wall products that enable them to build extraordinary projects that stand the test of time.
Durability that is second to none – We don’t just aim to meet industry standards, we exceed them (American Society for Testing and Materials, Canadian Standards Association).Colour that lasts – The refined surface of EnduraColor products is achieved with a two-step manufacturing process.
Unique textures – Deep, rich colors and a multitude of unique Reala textures combine to deliver the timeless beauty of Unilock Elegance.These among other exclusive Unilock technologies are why Unilock is chosen time and time again.

Unilock Lifetime Guarantee  

3. Transferable Lifetime Guarantee
Unilock was the first concrete paver manufacturer in North America to offer a Lifetime Guarantee, and we have continued to back it up to make sure you’re completely satisfied with our product. That’s quite the commitment since we have over 10 billion stones on the ground! We can do this because our product is better and stronger. In fact, our internal standards of manufacturing far exceed industry standards set by ASTM, CSA and European organizations. Our Lifetime Warranty has been a part of our commitment for the past 40 years. We stand behind every stone we make – just ask our customers. Visit for more details and to register your project for Unilock’s Transferable Lifetime Guarantee.

Unilock Experts Choose  

4. Experts Continue to Choose UNILOCK
Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers have relied on Unilock products for decades to build world class commercial spaces across North America.

Unilock 1-800-UNILOCK

Don’t forget to drop by the Outdoor Do-It-Yourself Centre on Saturday, March 14, Unilock Day, to discover tips and tricks for choosing the right product, and handy how-to demonstrations.

OR, drop by the UNILOCK® Idea Centre in Georgetown to explore project ideas and get helpful advice.


Toronto Zoo’s COVID-19 Story


The Toronto Zoo remains a top destination for both plant and animal lovers, with an expansive plant collection that can be currently seen both in all the indoor tropical pavilions and outdoors along the over 10 km of walking trails. Here at your Toronto Zoo we are committed to connecting people, animals and conservation science to fight extinction.  In most recent plant news, our horticulture team started to notice the growth and development of one of our corpse plants (Amorphophallus titanium). Some may remember that back in September of 2018 our beloved corpse flower, Pablo Pewcasso, bloomed and drew many people from far and wide. We have been excited to watch the journey of this newest corpse flower — Vincent van Gross, with it’s most fowl smell, as it came into bloom.


As with so many, we have had an unexpected and challenging year.  On March 14, 2020 we had to close our doors to our guests, as supported by Toronto Public Health in order to help halt the spread of COVID-19 in the community. During this time, Zoo staff were committed to ensuring the safety and well being of our 5,000 animals that call the Zoo home, and the health and safety of our staff and volunteers. While closed to the public, we quickly acted to enhance our online engagement as this was the only way the public could stay connected to our Zoo.  We took this opportunity to offer our guests a look at the work being done behind-the-scenes with daily Facebook Lives, which we still have available every day at 1:00 pm. We also provided virtual resources such as online live “Zoo School To You” classroom lessons twice weekly, including activity sheets for kids, and multiple virtual camp outs, where our guests could visit with us for the long weekends and participate in fun at-home activities.  Our social media and online storytelling grew by leaps and bounds, with even more animal photos and videos to keep our guests connected to their favourite animals, including special enrichment feedings for our animals and even a Toronto Star live cam to give the public real-time access to our lemurs, gorillas and giraffes.

Our giraffes were extra special this year as our new baby, cheekily named as “Baby Long Legs”, was able to be seen on live camera before we reopened to the public. While we would always agree that online isn’t the same as seeing our amazing animals in real-life, it was certainly the next best thing!  Since then, she has been named “Amani” meaning “peace”, which was announced during a Facebook Live to the delight of thousands of viewers.  We now have a new way you can see Amani from home with a “Twitch Live Cam” where you can actually take control of the camera to follow her throughout her habitat!

As a not-for-profit charitable organization, the Toronto Zoo relies heavily on revenue from admissions, parking, events, programs and onsite sales, so it was a financially hard time to remain closed for so long. We are grateful for the outpouring of support from our community that we have received during this difficult time, we could not be where we are without you. With the help of the community we were able to raise over $500,000 through our Zoo Food for Life campaign. As the province began to move into Phase 1 of reopening the economy, the Toronto Zoo had to improvise and create a solution that would assist with operating in a safe manner while still inviting guests back through its doors. This is when the Toronto Zoo decided to launch the NEW Scenic Safari. This is a tour around the Zoo from the comfort of your own car with your very own Zoo Keeper commentary to learn about animals as you pass through the variety of Zoogeographic areas! The experience offers the chance to see the Zoo from a whole new perspective as you drive on staff-only roads, through the Zoo site, and even through the lion cave! With animals at every turn, it is like you are on a real-life African safari – only this time, with a variety of animals from around the world.

As the City of Toronto, following the guidelines from the Government of Ontario and Toronto Public Health, started to enter Stage 2, we were able to reopen our gates back to our members and valued guests on June 27. The Toronto Zoo has implemented strict new guidelines and restrictions to ensure the safety of guests, staff, volunteers and of course animals. With some designated one-way routes throughout the Zoo and paths marked to create distance between guests, it allows you to see all your favourite animals at the Zoo while ensuring a safe distance from others. Hand sanitizing stations have been set up at multiple points throughout the walkable paths and face coverings are mandatory while indoors & at certain outdoor animal viewing areas. Pre-booked time slots are required for both Zoo Guests and Zoo Members in order to walk through the Zoo to minimize the number of guests at the front entrance and to assist with social distancing between groups. Tickets are ONLY available online and are not sold on site.

Now, as we are continuing to adapt to this new COVID-19 phase, we are looking at options to provide our guests with new opportunities to enjoy the Zoo while adhering strictly to important safety measures. This is why we are excited to announce our NEW Wild Tails Family Campsite, where you can bring your own camping gear and have a sleepover at the Zoo! Guests will enjoy a unique self-guided camping adventure including an evening of Zoo exploration, after-hours access to our African Savanna and Canadian Domain regions, dinner, and your own exclusive campsite where you’ll sleep under the stars at the Zoo!  Our Wild Encounters, a unique, behind-the-scenes opportunity to meet some of our resident animal favourites, are also back in a new limited capacity. This year we offer smaller groups the chance to get up-close and personal with some of our animals like the river hippos, penguins, giraffes and kangaroos. As with many new regulations, masks are to be worn for the whole duration of this experience and tickets should be booked in advance to avoid disappointment.

Lastly, we are getting ready to launch our very successful enchanted night walk experience again for a second season. Terra Lumina will be coming back this August to provide you and your family with the opportunity to enjoy the summer nights for a little longer. We will be making an announcement when we are ready for launch on our website:

Toronto Zoo Logo

Canada Blooms Chooses Theme for 2021

Celebrating 25 years

The Theme for 2021 is ‘Secret Garden’!

As we approach our 25th Festival, it is interesting to point out that Canada Blooms itself was considered an Anniversary Gift.

In 1997, our founders The Garden Club of Toronto and Landscape of Ontario were both approaching important anniversaries. The Garden Club, with 500 members, had the accumulated knowledge of 50 years of experience, and Landscape Ontario, while 25 years younger, had the strength of 1,200 members companies across the province.

The two organizations decided to join forces and stage a world-class flower and garden show, one that would bring together the entire horticulture and floriculture communities, and showcase the best products, services designs and talent for the public.

The idea of Canada Blooms was born, and after three years of planning, the first festival took place. Canada Blooms was also a gift to Toronto, for as a non-profit event, the proceeds from Canada Blooms went to a number of community garden projects and horticultural scholarships.

Paying homage to our roots, we are going to take the first year’s theme ‘Secret Garden’ and put a 2021 spin on it. Think of cozy hideaways, backyard sanctuaries or perhaps a little green oasis. Each garden will represent just what we all need a little more of in our lives, places to spend time with friends and family.

We hope you will come celebrate with us in March!

Create Privacy With Architextural™ Screens by Ikonik

Ikonik - 88 Series - Tangier

As we are welcoming the warmer temperatures and sunshine, we want to spend time outside with our friends and family. But, while outside we also want to carve out a space that is just for us, out of sight so that we can relax and enjoy the day in our backyard or garden.

How do we get that much needed privacy?
How about privacy screens? At the end of the busy day or hectic work week we all need time to unwind, relax, and recharge in a space that shelters you from the noise of the outside world. Using Ikonik Laser Cut Privacy Screens in your outdoor space create not only that sought after privacy but also creates beautiful art for your backyard.

Why should you get an Ikonik Privacy screen?

  • Using Laser Cut Architextural™ Privacy Screens in your outdoor space allows you to escape to a place that is just your own so you can exhale, reset your mind and breathe in a dance of shadow, light, and halftones.
  • A well thought out design choice can transform your space and transport you to where you once stood…or where you dream of standing.
  • Much like the rooms of the indoor spaces in your home, Ikonik Privacy Screens help delineate the areas or zones of your outdoor space. Laser Cut Privacy Screens around a hot tub can help create a more intimate space for just the two of you while the kids are having fun in the yard. Screens by the Firepit can make for a cozy space while others are playing in the pool. Defining the outdoor dining area will help create an environment where some of the most memorable family conversations happen.
  • You can Elevate Your Space and transform that one eyesore in your yard to eye-catching. Are you tired of looking at the air conditioner unit or pool equipment? Can’t stand seeing the gas or electrical meter coming off the side or back of the house? The thoughtful placement of just one or two Ikonik screens in that area can completely change the way you feel about the same space.
  • Laser Cut Privacy Screens can provide the ideal situation for your climbing plants to reach new heights and grow to their full potential. Any Pergola or Cabana can be retrofitted with Ikonik Screens on the sides, back, or overhead to create the perfect environment for plants to intertwine and climb the patterned screens to eventually offer natural overhead shade with hanging clusters of fragrant flowers.

Ikonik Architextural™ Screens offer a myriad of possibilities suited to both interior and exterior applications (check out our patterns). Our screens artfully define your living and transitional areas. Whether you seek to establish privacy or shade, create stunning feature wall, or dramatic stand-alone artworks — there is an Ikonik solution. Ikonik Laser Cut Privacy Screens are constructed from 5052 Aluminum ensuring they will never rust,  have a 90º  1½” Structural Flange along all edges providing rigidity and torsional stiffness as well as ease of installation. Ikonik includes all hardware required to attach to either our Aluminum posts or the post material of your choice. If we don’t have the pattern or size that you are looking for we are happy to provide custom options as well.  All Ikonik products are proudly made right here in Guelph, Ontario, Canada using only the highest quality material and powder-coats.

Ikonik Logo View Ikonik Gallery Check out Ikonik’s Insta

About Ikonik:
Ikonik designs and manufactures premium laser cut Architextural™ Elements suited to both interior and exterior spaces. A unique balance of form and function, our product line includes standard and custom Architextural™ Screens, shade structures, feature lighting, and gates that artfully define your interior or exterior spaces and transitional areas. To establish privacy or shade, create stunning feature walls or dramatic stand alone art features, there is an Ikonik solution. 

Ikonik Asonoah Screen

Early Summer To-Do List from Ben & Mark Cullen


Garden Tips From Mark & Ben

Here are some things you should be thinking about in June:

  • Hot crops like corn, zucchini, squash (all cucurbits), peppers, and potatoes can be planted now, if you haven’t already. Those who planted in May will have a head-start.
  • Mulch! A 5 cm layer of mulch can cut down watering by 70% and weeding by 90%. Mark uses shredded cedar or pine bark mulch, and Ben uses straw. To each their own.
  • Fast growing flowers can be sown now wherever you have a blank space in the garden. There are lots of great wildflower mixes out there that can bring pollinators to your garden. An easy way to plant these is by pouring the seed mix into a bucket with some dry potting mix, sand or vermiculite (one packet/25 sq ft). Pour the seed/sand or soil mixture back and forth between two buckets until they are fully mixed. Broadcast the seed by hand over a bed of soil and rake it in.
  • Roses, peonies and clematis will start flowering this month – get out there and make sure they are supported before they fall over under the weight of their massive blossoms!
  • Containers can be planted up now with annuals. Feed them once with a feed-and-forget fertilizer (slow release) and add a healthy amount of compost to the potting mix for season-long performance.
  • Herbs can be planted right along side the rest of your containers and harvested immediately. Be careful not to over water; with the exception of Basil, most herbs like to dry out between watering.
  • Stake your tomatoes! Getting them off the ground will double your crop. We like the Mark’s Choice Spiral Stake…not just because it has Mark’s name on it. Mark chose this product because it is the easiest way to stake, save yourself the hassle of tying tomatoes.

Connect with Mark and Ben and sign up for their free bi-monthly newsletter. Also, facebook, twitter, Instagram and podcast! 10,000 gardening questions answered.

Gilda’s Club Gnome Garden

Gilda's Club Gnome Garden

In 2020 Canada Blooms reached out to celebrities and artists to see if they would help us to create a Gnome Garden for Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto.

Margaret Taylor, who is a member of the Garden Club of Toronto, an international floral design competitor and winner, an instructor and floral judge, took on the project of the Gnome Garden at Canada Blooms.

Margaret assembled a team of volunteers who reached out to celebrities and artists to see if they would be interested in painting gnomes to bring awareness to Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto. The gnomes were to be displayed in the Gilda’s Club Gnome Garden and each of the gnomes were to be auctioned off, with all proceeds going to Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto.

Margaret then travelled the countryside looking for a couple dozen gnomes that would look fun and interesting. Each gnome is between 12″ and 24″ and no two look alike. Then after getting the commitment from each of our painters, Margaret and her team then had the fun task of delivering each of the gnomes to their destination and then retrieving them and storing them until the final reveal at Canada Blooms.  And during all of this Margaret was planning her design for the WAFA India competition which took place just before Canada Blooms.

It has been a  journey, sometimes fun and sometimes strange — we lost one gnome along the way, as it was accidentally dropped — oops.  One of the wonderful artists who offered to paint a gnome passed away suddenly, and her niece stepped in and completed the gnome as a way of honouring her aunt.

But each gnome was completed, and names where chosen and pictures taken.  You may have seen some of the finished gnomes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as both the artists and the members of Margaret’s team were busy teasing people leading up to the festival.

Then it happened, Canada Blooms, and their partner — the Home Show, made the fateful decision that they would have to close the festival the day before opening day, much to the disappointment of staff, exhibitors and attendees. But we all agree that safety comes first.

So because most of you never had to opportunity to see all the gnomes or meet the wonderful artists who donated their time and talent to create each masterpiece, please see below. Then decide which gnome you would like to bid on, because the Silent Auction will take place at Canada Blooms 2021.


MISSION:  The mission of Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto is to ensure that all people impacted by any cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action and sustained by community.  Emotional and social support are essential to a complete cancer care plan.  All networking and support groups, educational workshops and social activities are provided free of charge.

ABOUT OUR CHARITY : The burden of cancer is not only physical but deeply emotional. Where physicians provide medical expertise following a cancer diagnosis, Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto  is the expert in managing the emotions, behaviors and social relationships impacted by this diagnosis when cancer is the greatest stressor in one’s life.  Their proven psycho-social programs focus on support for the whole family i.e. cancer support groups for the person with cancer as well as support groups for the caregivers, spouses/partners and children in the family and they don’t charge for membership. Their 5 core programs are: support groups for adults, teens and children, education workshops, healthy lifestyle activities, art base programs and referrals and resources. Gilda’s Club also hosts a March Break Camp and a July summer camp for children whose lives have been affected by a cancer diagnosis in the family. Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto has been coined “The missing link in the cancer care system.”

By supporting Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto, you are helping them ensure that no one has to face cancer alone.

To find out more or donate, please visit:

Meet the Artists:

Gnomes Artists


Bluejay by Judy James and Roberto Alomar


Roberto Alomar
Roberto “Robbie” Alomar Velázquez is a former Major League Baseball player who played for the San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, New York Mets, Chicago White Sox, and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Judy James
Judy is a Floral Artist and Artist. She volunteers at Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto.


Roberto Alomar


Mini Joe and Mini Jack by Angela Argentina


Angela is the chef and vegan food consultant at Kindred Kitchens. She is also an artist and a yoga instructor.


Angela Argentina


Chanel by Jeanne Beker


Jeanne is a Canadian Journalist, Media Personality, and Fashion Entrepreneur. Jeanne started her career as an actress, but moved into radio and then television on The NewMusic and CityPulse News. She then went on to become the hose of the Fashion Television (FT), which aired for 27 years and had viewers in more than 130 countries. Jeanne was recently named Style Editor of The Shopping Channel, and hosts a regular series for the channel entitled “Style Matters with Jeanne Beker”. She was recently appointed to the Order of Canada in 2014 for her support of the Canadian fashion industry


Jeanne Beker


Pobbles by Sue Clarkson


Sue is a floral designer and artist.



Flower Place Holder


Gnomenclature by Ben & Mark Cullen


Ben Cullen
Ben is a fourth generation gardener. Ben spent several years working in the food industry before travelling across Europe, Russia, Mongolia and China on his own, then joining his dad, Mark, in the business a few years ago. Ben has a passion for food gardening and the environment. Ben is co-author of
Escape to Reality.

Mark Cullen
Mark has been broadcasting and writing about the gardening experience since the early 80’s. He has written 23 books, including Escape to Reality. In 2016 Mark was awarded the Order of Canada for “his connections with everyday Canadians through his gardening and environmental messages.” He is the Volunteer Chair of the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign.



Mark & Ben Cullen


Valentine by Bruno Duarte


Bruno grew up surrounded by flowers on his family’s farm in Madeira. His approach to floral design is both sculptural and emotional, blending organic materials and found objects together to create works of art. When he’s not at his studio, Bruno can be found creating arrangements in front of a live audience in many places in the USA, Northern Ireland and the UK. Bruno represented Canada in Singapore in 2018 in Windows of the World at their garden show. He won Floral Artist of the year 2019 at Canada Blooms, received second place at Maple Leaf Cup 2019 and won the CAFA award for most creative use of materials at the Maple Leaf Cup 2019. Bruno won Judge’s Choice at Canada Blooms 2020.


Bruno Duarte


Dandy by Jayne Eastwood


Canadian Icon Jayne Eastwood is a renowned actor who has had plenty of experience showcasing her comedic talents in TV shows like King of KensingtonSCTV and Little Mosque on the Prairie. For her latest project – web series, Hey Lady– she amps up the laughs as an older woman navigating the challenges that come with aging. Jayne received the ACTRA Toronto 2019 Award of Excellence that recognized her 50-year career in film, TV, stage and voice animation.
IMBD.COM – Jayne Eastwood


Jayne Eastwood with Dandy


Norm Gnomey by Frankie Flowers


Frank A.K.A. Frankie Flowers is one of Canada’s most trusted gardening and weather experts.  With 4 best selling books including Power Plants, Pot it Up, Get Growing and most recently Food to Grow Frankie’s books exemplify his mission to motivate people to garden.  Frankie can be seen daily on CityTV Breakfast Television, he is a regular garden expert on CityLine and also has been the gardening expert for the Dr Oz show. Frankie’s family operates one of Canada’s largest combined greenhouse and garden centre operations located in Bradford and Barrie.




Frank Ferragine




Hortensia by Denis Flanagan



Denis has just retired as PR Director at Landscape Ontario, he was the host of HGTV’s One Garden, Two Looks and Indoor Gardener, a frequent Canada Blooms speaker, and garden designer, teacher and consultant.  Denis combines over 30 years gardening experience with a sense of humour that makes him a popular speaker at events across the country. Denis also appears as an expert guest on many other gardening shows on TV and radio.



Denis Flanagan painting Hortensia


Albert by Albert Graves


Albert has been teaching at Humber for more than 20 years and is an internationally recognized expert in floral design and the commercial floral industry. Trained in the Netherlands, he came to Canada in 1987 and opened Bloemen Décor, a Toronto-based floral design studio, in 1995. Continually searching for the new and novel he has the unique talent of keeping things within a strict design ethos. Whether it’s decorations for the Dutch Queen’s birthday, flowers for visiting dignitaries, glamorous celebrities or an appearance on various television shows, you can be sure that Albert’s designs always bear his unique signature.


Albert Graves


Rex by Rex Harrington


Rex is one of the most accomplished and acclaimed male dancers of his era, he brought seemingly limitless panache, energy, style and showmanship to the vast range of characterizations he created during his 20 years with The National Ballet of Canada. He joined The National Ballet of Canada in 1983 and a Principal Dancer in 1988, remaining in that position until his retirement in 2004. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2000 and was given a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2005. In 2006, he received an Honorary Degree from York University and was appointed Artist-in-Residence with the National Ballet. Rex was a frequent judge on the popular television programme, So You Think You Can Dance Canada.



Rex Harrington


Gulliver by Jacqui Jacobs


Jacquie is a renowned artist how has had her art displayed in Canada and many European Countries.



Jacqui Jacobs


Judy by Judy James


Judy is a Floral Artist and Artist. She volunteers at Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto.


Flower Place Holder


Claude the Gnome by Nicole Katsurus


Nicole received a Master of Fine Arts from Central Saint Martins School of art and design in London, UK and has an Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto. Her work can be found in numerous corporate collections. Nicole is currently working on three solo exhibitions in Vancouver, Arkansas and Toronto.


Nicole Katsuras


Eco Ed and Forrest The Frog by Anwar Knight


Anwar is a proud Canadian broadcaster, blogger, and self-proclaimed “weather weenie”. Anwar Knight joined the CTV News Toronto team as the Weekend Weather Reporter in 2007 and in 2009 transitioned to reporting the weather weekdays on CTV News at Noon. Anwar is proud to be an integral part of Toronto’s #1 Newscast. He anchors the local morning news briefs, followed by live reports from various community events in the GTA on CTV News at Noon while delivering his always engaging forecast.



Anwar Knight


Portrait of a Gnome by Darlene Kulig


Darlene was awarded the CSEA/Berol Prismacolour National Art Scholarship awarded to six Canadian students entering Fine Arts based on outstanding potential in visual arts.  TorontoHOME and Ottawa Life Magazine have featured Darlene’s award winning work, showcasing her vibrant, coast to coast Canadian landscapes. Currently, Darlene is focusing her creative efforts full time on developing a recognizable, signature Kulig Canadian landscape as well as traveling with an eye for her next painting series. You can find her work in galleries across Canada and the United States as well as private collections around the world.


Darlene Kulig


Pride Gnome by Colin Mochrie & Deb McGrath


Colin Mochrie
Colin is a Scottish-born Canadian actor, writer, producer and improvisational comedian, best known for his appearances on the British and US versions of the improvisational TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Deb McGrath
Debra is an actress and writer, known for Expecting, Getting Along Famously and The Joe Blow Show.
IMBD – Debra McGrath


Deb McGrath and Colin Mochrie


Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil by Camille Muller


Camille studied at McMaster University, the University of Western Ontario, London Teachers College and the Ontario College of Education. On graduation, she has had an extensive teaching career spanned grades 5 to 13 – including adult education groups.
Camille enjoys working in watercolor, acrylics, collage, mixed media and print making. In the medium of porcelain/china she has earned the designation of Certified Master Artist and Master Teacher.


Camille Muller


Sweetie by Mara Sciavetto


Mara’s award-winning work has been accepted into numerous prestigious juried shows, including the Ontario Society of Artists (OSA) and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. She has also exhibited in many group shows and several solo shows. Her work can be found in collections throughout North America and Europe. She is a member of several art organizations, including Neilson Park Creative Centre, where she often paints with like-minded passionate artists.


Mara Sciavetto


Mary by Meghan Thompson


Meghan is a Visual arts teacher with the Toronto District School Board. She also creates comics and illustrations, with online galleries at and Meghan stepped in painted Mary in memory of her aunt Mary Shaver, a west end artist, who started painting the gnome but then had a tragic accident.


Meghan Thompson


Papa Gnome by Tanja Taylor


Tanja is the Director, Creative Services at RBC Global Asset Management.


Tanja Taylor


John by Mayor Tory


Mayor Tory has spent his life giving back to the city he loves, through his tireless work in public, private sector and philanthropic roles.

Elected as the 65th Mayor of Toronto in 2014 and re-elected in 2018, John Tory is making the city more liveable, affordable and functional.


Mayor John Tory


Happy Gardener by Paul Zammit


A graduate of the University of Guelph’s Plant Agriculture program, Paul is an active member of many Canadian and international gardening communities. He lectures on a wide array of subjects, including container gardening, perennials, ground covers and tropicals.

A popular and engaging speaker, Paul has given presentations at many garden clubs and large garden shows such as the Canadian National Exhibition, Success With Gardening and Canada Blooms, and other horticultural trade shows in both Canada and the United States


Paul Zammit

Amplify the Bird Song in Your Garden (From Mark & Ben Cullen)


Garden Tips From Mark & Ben

In the chorus that is a living garden, our favourite section is the singing birds. A breeze through tall grass, the crunch of gravel underfoot and a frog croaking, all play their part in this living soundtrack.

Nothing can stop us in our tracks like birdsong. We were reminded of this when we walked through the feature gardens at Canada Blooms March 13th.   ( for an amazing video) Yes, this was the edition of our famous festival that no one was able to see, other than a handful of us organisers and the contractors.

Back to the birds in your garden. Our favourite way to promote and enjoy birds is bringing them right into the backyard by providing food and habitat.

Here is what we recommend:
o   Plants are a one-stop shop for food and shelter. Birds prefer fruits and seeds right off the plant, and most birds either build their nests in a tree, shrub or stand of grass, or they make their nests from pieces of it.

o   Flowers such as asters, black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), Echinacea (purple coneflower) and coreopsis, not only add colour to your yard but attract a range of songbirds from cardinals to colourful finches. Leave perennials standing throughout the winter so they can continue to be foraged and cut them down in the spring.

o    Native ornamental grasses attract sparrows, finches and other small birds that forage for seeds. Robins and sparrows pick up coarse blades to construct the main walls of their nest, then revisit for finer-textured blades to pad the soft lining of the interior. We recommend planting big bluestem, little bluestem, northern sea oats or side oats. Like your perennials, leave these grasses standing through the winter to provide habitat for overwintering species such as dark eyed juncos.

o    Robins, waxwings and cardinals build nests in shrubs, eating and singing like old friends at a Maritime kitchen party. Mulberries and serviceberries are two medium-sized, summer-fruiting shrubs/small trees that are especially popular with this crowd. Flowering dogwood bears fruit in the fall to keep them coming, as does crab apple, which also fruits in the fall but holds its fruit into the winter for foraging cedar wax wings.

o   Trees are the bird equivalent of a tall condo building, bustling with life. White oaks provide nesting opportunities to woodpeckers, jays and even wood ducks, and unlike other oaks, white oak produce acorns every year. Native tree species are found to support more bird life. We recommend red maple or black, red and white spruce, gray, white and yellow birch or black willow, if you have lots of space.

Once you have created a bountiful bird food-garden, supplement with the right bird feed.

Here are our guidelines for a great “feeding” experience:

  •  Birds will forgive you for letting the feeders go empty. People worry that the birds depend on them for feeder-food. While a feeder helps bring birds to your yard, it will only ever be one of many food sources they depend on, so don’t race home from the cottage to fill your bird feeders.
  • Buy seed based on the birds you wish to attract. The following guidelines by BSC will help you understand what type of feed will attract the birds you want:

o   Black oil sunflower seed will attract cardinal, black-capped Chickadee, Mourning Dove, Dark-eyed Junco, song sparrow and common Grackle.

o   Suet and bird peanuts attract Blue jay, red-breasted nuthatch, Downy Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch, Hairy Woodpecker. Avoid “human peanuts” as the salt is harmful to birds.

o   Nyjer/ black oil sunflower will attract the smaller house finch, American Goldfinch, Purple Finch, Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin.

With enough food and places to make nest, remember water. This is extremely important as birds, like humans, need to drink and bathe.

For more details visit our library and word-search “birds” at, and for more advice and answers to over 10,000 gardening questions sign up for Mark and Ben’s free monthly newsletter.

p.s. looking for tips on growing food during COVID-19? Check out our Food Gardening Tips at

Canada Blooms Floral & Horticultural Winners (Professional & Amateur)

Rada Ristich 2020 Floral Design Canada Blooms

On March 12, The Home Show and Canada Blooms made the decision to cancel the Home Show and the Canada Blooms Festival, held at the Enercare Centre in Toronto, due to public health concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Each year, Floral Alley: The Professional Floral Designers Showcase and the Toronto Flower Show and Competition at Canada Blooms highlights the creativity and innovation of designers and horticulturalist.

Canada Blooms and the Toronto Flower Show would like to thank the many competitors for their hard work and dedication in support of this year’s festival.

Many thanks also the Floral Alley Judges: Celia Roberts, Lillian Taggart and Albert Graves.

Take a virtual tour of the Toronto Flower Show courtesy of Sayeh Beheshti:

Bruno Duarte 2020 Floral Design Canada Blooms


Bruno Duarte

Fresh Floral Creations

Presented by Ontario Flower Growers
Rada Ristich 2020 Floral Design Canada Blooms Brad Higginson 2020 Floral Design Canada Blooms


Rada Ristich & Brad Higginson

Alma Florists/

Presented by Oasis Floral Products Logo
Joezel Yumul 2020 Floral Design Canada Blooms


Joezel Yumul

Bruno Duarte 2020 Floral Design Canada Blooms


Bruno Duarte

Fresh Floral Creations

Rada Ristich 2020 Floral Design Canada Blooms Brad Higginson 2020 Floral Design Canada Blooms


Rada Ristich & Brad Higginson

Alma Florists/

Joezel Yumul 2020 Floral Design Canada Blooms


Joezel Yumul

Melani Nemeskovic 2020 Design Canada Blooms


Melani Nemeskovic


Bruno Duarte 2020 Floral Design Canada Blooms


Bruno Duarte

Fresh Floral Creations

Diana Kennedy Entry Canada Blooms 2020


Diana Kennedy


Garden Clubs of Ontario

Carola Kean Canada Blooms 2020 Design


Carola Kean

United Kingdom

Hertfordshire Flower Guild,
National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies

Christine de Beer Canada Blooms 2020 Design


Christine de Beer

Canada West

National Association of Flower Arrangement Society, Vancouver BC

Rosemary Smyth Canada Blooms 2020 design


Rosemary Smyth


The Association of Irish Floral Artists

Wiqarrunisa Boolani Canada Blooms 2020 design


Wiqarunnisa Boolani


Floral Art Society of Pakistan, Islamabad Chapter

 Andrea Quintyne Canada Blooms 2020 Design


Andrea Quintyne


Barbados Association of Floral Artists

Julieta Bernetche Pous Canada Blooms 2020 Design


Julieta Barnetche Pous


Flower Arrangement Club of Mexico City

Connie Scerri Canada Blooms 2020


Connie Scerri


Malta Horticultural Society

Presented by Visit Malta Logo  
Annie Scicluna Canada Blooms 2020 Design


Annie Scicluna


Malta Horticultural Society

Carola Kean Canada Blooms 2020 Design


Judge’s Choice in the International Class

Carola Kean

United Kingdom

Hertfordshire Flower Guild,
National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies

Rosemary Passafume McLean Entry


An entry with the most fascinating
and intriguing design in Design

Rosemary Passafiume-Mclean

Susan Schwab Entry Canada Blooms 2020


An entry with the most fascinating
and intriguing design in Horticulture

Susan Schwab

Rosemary Passafume McLean Entry


For best interpretation of Show Theme

Rosemary Passafiume-Mclean

Rosemary Passafume McLean Entry


To the exhibitor who wins a first in
both design and horticulture

Rosemary Passafiume-Mclean

Judy Zinni Entry Canada Blooms 2020


An exhibit demonstrating outstanding horticultural skills

Judy Zinni

Rosemary Passafiume-McLean Entry


For the highest aggregate number of points
in sections A-D

Rosemary Passafiume-McLean

Sara Taman Entry Canada Blooms 2020


For the best exhibit in class 28

Sara Taman

Christine Lewis Entry Canada Blooms 2020


For the best exhibit in a class that is both educational and challenging in Section C Classes 19-25 and
Sections D Calsses 26-37

Christine Lewis

Joyce Moffat Entry 2020


For the best exhibit in a classes 1-37

Joyce Moffat

Presented by Lee Valley Logo
Susan Schwab Entry Canada Blooms 2020


Judge’s Choice for best exhibit combining design and horticultural excellence in classes 38, 42 and 47

Susan Schwab

Rosemary Dobson Entry Canada Blooms 2020


Judge’s Choice in classes 40 and 45

Rosemary Dobson

Mary Lou Tigert Entry Canada Blooms 2020


For best interpretive design in horticulture
in classes 41, 43 and 46

Mary Lou Tigert

Joyce Johnson Entry Canada Blooms 2020


For the best exhibit in Herb classes 39 and 44

Joyce Johnson

Dorcas Beaton Entry Canada Blooms 2020


For the highest number of points
in Herb classes 36, 39 and 44

Dorcas Beaton

Judy James Entry Canada Blooms 2020


For a creative work of outstanding beauty by a
Garden Club of Toronto member in design which
includes fresh plant material

Judy James

 Joyce Moffat Entry Canada Blooms 2020


For a distinctive design

Joyce Moffat

Sayeh Beheshti Entry Canada Blooms 2020


Judge’s Choice for the most creative design by the Garden Club member who has never been a
contender for the Katherine Hobbs Award

Sayeh Beheshti

Sayeh Beheshti Entry Canada Blooms 2020


Judge’s Choice for most distinctive design

Sayeh Beheshti

Joyce Moffat Entry Canada Blooms 2020


For the best mass design in show

Joyce Moffat

Carolyn Whiteside Entry Canada Blooms 2020


For most distinctive Table design

Carolyn Whiteside

Rosemary Passafiume McLean Entry Canada Blooms 2020


For most distinctive Miniature design

Rosemary Passafiume-McLean

Sandra Williamson Entry Canada Blooms 2020

TD Bank Group Award

For most distinctive design in class 107A or 107B

Sandra Williamson

Presented by TD Bank Group logo
Judy James Entries Canada Blooms 2020


For the competitor with the highest aggregate number of points in the Design Division

Judy James

Ellen Clark Entry Canada Blooms 2020


For the best use of colour in the Design Division

Ellen Clark

Helen Stanimirovic Entry Canada Blooms 2020


For the highest aggregate number of points for an open/class exhibitor in sections A, B, C and F

Helen Stanimirovic

Tracey Bosley Entry Canada Blooms 2020


For the best exhibit in sections A & B

Tracey Bosley

Marilyn Olivares Entry Canada Blooms


For the best exhibit in classes 1-8

Marilyn Olivares

 Judy Zinni Entry Canada Blooms 2020


For the best exhibit in class 9

Judy Zinni

Helen Stanimirovic Entry Canada Blooms 2020


For the best exhibit in class 10

Helen Stanimirovic

Carolyn Moras Entry Canada Blooms 2020


For the best exhibit in classes 11 & 12

Carolyn Moras

Joyce Moffat Entry 2020


For the best exhibit in classes 13 & 14

Joyce Moffat

Marilyn Olivares Entry Canada Blooms 2020


For the best exhibit in classes 15-18

Marilyn Olivares

Donalda Kelk Entry Canada Blooms 2020


For the best exhibit in classes 19-25

Donalda Kelk

Leaside Garden Club Entry Canada Blooms 2020


Leaside Garden Club

Michael Erdman Entry Canada Blooms 2020


For the most distinctive design in class 110

Michael Erdman

Sayeh Beheshti Entry Canada Blooms 2020


Judge’s Choice in class 111

Sayeh Beheshti

Helen Feldman - Best In Show Photography, Canada Blooms 2020


Helen Feldmann

Children's Class at Canada Blooms 2020


Emma Clarkson,
Emma Ferrigni,
Evie Bellana


Canada Blooms Feature Garden Awards Winners

J Garfield Thompson Garden at Canada Blooms

On March 12, The Home Show and Canada Blooms made the decision to cancel the Home Show and the Canada Blooms Festival, held at the Enercare Centre in Toronto, due to public health concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Each year, Canada Blooms garden builders show not only their craftsmanship but also creativity as they attempt to build and outstanding garden while keeping the festival theme in mind. Even though Canada Blooms was cancelled, a group of industry professional volunteer judges toured and evaluated the feature gardens and winners were chosen.

Canada Blooms and Landscape Ontario would like to thank the many garden builders for their efforts, including their outstanding creativity, hard work and dedication in support of this year’s festival.

Many thanks also, to the volunteer judges: Bruce Warren, Jeff McMann, Ron Koudys, Rita Weerdenburg, Jon Peter and Chris Flanagan.

Take a quick virtual tour with Landscape Ontario:

Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds


Access to Nature

Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds


place holder Video Button
Green Art Landscaping


A Pair in a Par-Terre

Green Art Landscape Design

place holder Video Button
Landscapes by Jodie Munshaw


Backyard Bird Watch

Landscapes by Jodie Munshaw

Presented by Unilock
Sylvia Szot Garden


Neighbourhood Flock

Sylvia Szot Landscape Design

Presented by Oaks Landscape Products
The Growing Connection


Edible Caja Garden

The Growing Connection

Presented by Oaks Landscape Products
Landscapes by Jodie Munshaw


Backyard Bird Watch

Landscapes by Jodie Munshaw

Presented by Oaks Landscape Products
J GArfield Thompson Garden


Mark’s Potting Shed

J. Garfield Thompson Landscape

place holder Video Button
Landscapes by Jodie Munshaw


Backyard Bird Watch

Landscapes by Jodie Munshaw

Presented by Isuzu Truck Canada
Bienenstock Garden


Access to Nature

Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds

Presented by Hub International Insurance Video Button
TerraForm Contracting


Haven on Earth

Terraform Contracting

Presented by Sunnybrook Foundation Logo Video Button
UPLP Group


Get Lost in a Feather

UPLP Group

Presented by ORCGA Logo Video Button
 Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds


Access to Nature

Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds

place holder Video Button
Jacobs Gardenscape Garden


The Green Metal Garden

Jacob’s Gardenscape

Presented by Syngenta Canada Video Button
Bancheri Bros Garden


Celine’s Garden

Bancheri Bros.

City of Toronto Garden at Canada Blooms


This Space is for The Birds

City of Toronto

Presented by CNLA Logo



Willow Design Group

UPLP Group Garden


Get Lost in a Feather

UPLP Group

Presented by LO Lighting Sector Group Video Button
Landscape by Evergreen


Summer Hideout

Landscape by Evergreen

Presented by Aquascape Logo Video Button
Mountainhill Garden


Flight of Fancy

Mountainhill Landscape Professionals

place holder Video Button
Bancheri Bros Garden


Celine’s Garden

Bancheri Bros.



Willow Design Group

Presented by Garden Club of Toronto
Green Art Landscape


A Pair in a Par-Terre

Green Art Landscape Design

Presented by Mark's Choice Video Button
ExperTrees Garden


Contemplation of Self Reflection

ExperTrees Horticulture & Landscape Specialists

Presented by Pioneer Flower Farm logo
City of Toronto Garden


This Space is for The Birds

City of Toronto

Presented by Ontario Flower Growers
Wishing Well Garden


Wishing Well Garden

Niagara College Students

Presented by Proven Winners
J Garfield Thompson


Mark’s Potting Shed

J. Garfield Thompson Landscape

place holder Video Button
Bancheri Bros Garden


Celine’s Garden

Bancheri Bros.

City of Toronto Garden at Canada Blooms


This Space is for The Birds

City of Toronto

Bienenstock Garden at Canada Blooms


Access to Nature

Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds

place holder Video Button
J Garfield Thompson Garden


Mark’s Potting Shed

J. Garfield Thompson Landscape

place holder Video Button
Hard Landscaping Awards
Green Art Landscape


A Pair in a Par-Terre

Green Art Landscape Design

place holder Video Button
J Garfield Thompson Garden


Mark’s Potting Shed

J. Garfield Thompson Landscape

Presented by Beaver Valley Stone Video Button
Mountainhill Garden


Flight of Fancy

Mountainhill Landscape Professionals

place holder Video Button
David McEldon Garden


Just Be

David McEldon Landscape & Design

place holder Video Button
Bienenstock Garden


Access to Nature

Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds

place holder Video Button
Winkelmolen Logo


Winkelmolen Nursery

Oaks Logo


Oaks Landscape  Products


What Does Your Valentine’s Bouquet Say About You?

Valentine's Day

Canada Blooms provides tips for selecting the right floral arrangement for your loved one

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, which means it’s time to start thinking about how you will celebrate with your special someone.

Flowers are one of the most romantic gifts that someone can receive, and one of the most popular gifts to give on Valentine’s Day. Whether you are looking to impress a new friend, let your crush know how you feel or spoil the person who has had your heart for years, flowers allow you to express your own unique message of love or friendship.

“Picking the right bouquet is all about personal preference and knowing what kind of message you want to send,” says Jennifer Harvey, professional florist. “There are so many different colours, fragrances and styles to choose from, creating the perfect bouquet for your partner or friend can be really exciting!”

The right bouquet is worth a thousand words, and experts at Canada Blooms have created a list of tips to help you pick the perfect flowers for your Valentine’s Day bouquet.

Here is the meaning behind popular flowers and what they say about you and your relationship:

Roses: For decades roses have been branded as a symbol of love and the most popular flower to give on Valentine’s Day. Roses send a romantic message and are used to symbolize passion and romance. Roses are the perfect gift to send to a long-time lover or significant other!

Calla Lily: Calla lilies are a refined flower, associated with elegance, beauty, purity and faith, and can symbolize the strength of a couple’s love. This is a fantastic gift for that first Valentine’s Day with your partner to show them the love and affection you have for your relationship!

Carnations: Carnations have been known to symbolize fascination and affection. Carnations ruffle-like design makes their appearance bold and feminine. This is a fantastic choice for those in new relationships or close friends because it sends a message of intrigue and admiration to your partner.

Tulips: Tulips possess a beautiful, simple appearance that can be customized with colour to best suit your partners’ personality. They convey a message of elegance, simplicity, and comfort and align with this year’s floral trends by creating a minimalistic and aesthetically pleasing appearance. Tulips are a great gift for a close friend or loved one that will be sure to brighten up their day!

Lilies: Lilies are beautiful, versatile and pair well with other flowers such as roses. They are remarkable flowers that have a breathtaking fragrance that will leave your partner feeling loved and comforted. Lilies are perfect if you don’t want to buy a bouquet full of roses  — by mixing lilies and roses you can create a great alterative to show both a message of love and passion, while still being playful and fun!

Assorted: An assorted bouquet can offer a message of care and affection and gives you the opportunity to incorporate different flowers to showcase your personality. Use multiple bright, vibrant colours to symbolize fun, excitement and hope, or utilize warm, neutral tones to show elegance, compassion and comfort. An assorted bouquet is the best way to impress a new date while still getting to know your partner and relationship!

Once you pick the right flowers, use this year’s floral trends to help you piece together the finishing touches of your bouquet. The current forecast for floral trends predicts that neutrals and warm tones will be all the rage this year.

Going beyond colour, minimalistic styling and strong floral fragrances are also predicted to be a popular trend this year.

“When picking the right arrangement for your partner, make sure you are catering to the message that you want to convey,” says Jennifer. “Keeping up-to-date on floral trends allows you to draw inspiration and incorporate personal taste to express your affection and create the perfect bouquet.”

Valentine’s Day is about showcasing your love and picking the right bouquet can help you express your emotions and affection to your loved one in a thoughtful and simplistic way.

Co-located with the National Home Show, Canada Blooms takes place March 13th to March 22nd, 2020, at the Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place in Toronto. For more information or for tickets, please visit Follow Canada Blooms on Twitter @CanadaBlooms and Like it on Facebook.

— By Courtney DeCaire, Enterprise Canada


10 Reasons To Choose Unilock

Unilock Stone in Backyard

As the original manufacturer of concrete patio pavers in North America, UNILOCK® has earned a fine reputation for quality and become one of the most trusted names in the industry. With more than 10 billion stones in the ground to date, we’ve sold more pavers than any other company.

UNILOCK® knows there’s more to successful project than what you see on the finished surface.

Here are 10 Reasons to Choose Unilock

The Unilock Design Centre  

1.  Styles You Can’t Get Anywhere Else
From the sleek, contemporary look of umbraiano to the timeless feel fo weathered European Cobblestones and everything in between, Unilock has something for everyone’ landscape dreams.

2. Unilock Idea Centre
The Unilock Outdoor Idea Centre is a real place where you can walk through inspiring displays of Unilock products in a full-scale outdoor setting. Let our friendly customer service staff show you our amazing products and help you create your dream plan.
We’ll even provide your with free product samples.

Unilock Pavers  

3. Advanced Technology
With products to suit every budget and a huge variety of material types, Unilock will make your landscape dreams come true!
EasyClean Stan Resistance: Factory sealed to provide integral surface protection from stains.
Reala Technology: Cast from natural stone, brick and historic European cobblestones.
Ultima Concrete Technology: Up to 4x stronger than poured-in-place concrete.
Colorfusion Technology: Randomly dispersed color and granite particles.

4. Greener Choices – Water Management
We began selling permeable pavers more than 25 years ago and have more experience in this area than any other manufacturer. Permeable pavers are a popular choice to unlock usable space in municipalities where non-permeable lot coverage is restricted. They allow water to flower through extra wide joints to replenish the natural eco-system.

5. Unsurpassed Durability
There isn’t a better paving products in the world. Unilock products set the standard for quality in the Industry.
Every Unilock product is…
♠ Durable
♠ Made with colorfast pigments
♠ Slip resistant
♠ Resistant to salt erosion
♠ Designed to tolerate oil and gas spills
♠ Backed by our Transferable Lifetime Guarantee

Unilock Patio  

6. The Go-To Product For Professionals
There’s good reason why the pros choose Unilock products. From architects and landscape architects to city engineers and commercial property owners, Unilock is preferred by professionals.
Many of the products featured in the Unilock Catalog have been installed in large scale commercial projects in some of the most prestigious spaces in North America. If Unilock is the choice of the pros, shouldn’t you choose us too?

7. More Experience Thank Anyone Else
Founded in 1972, Unilock was the first to manufacture paving stones in North America. Over the past 47 years, we have perfected our manufacturing process and have developed technologies to create products that set the bar for innovation and creativity.
Our world-class production facilities are renowned for their safety and cleanliness and are staffed with the most experienced production people in the industry.
This, in combination with our on going investment in technologically advanced equipment, ensures we’re able to provide the best in quality, consistency and design.



Unilock Worker using Stone  

8. Unbeatable Product Guarantee
Unilock was the first to offer a transferable Lifetime Guarantee on our manufactured products. That’s quite the commitment since we have almost 2 billion stones on the ground! you can sleep well at night knowing that Unilock is behind you 100%.

9. Guaranteed To Do The Job Right
A product is only as good as the workmanship used to install it. Unilock Authorized Contractors are rigorously screened and hand-picked for their quality workmanship and exceptional business practices which enables us to guarantee their workmanship for a period of two years. When you choose a Unilock Authorized Contractor, you can be assured that you are getting the best in the business.

10. We’re Here To Help
Unilock is a family owned company that cares about the success of your project. Contractors know that help from Unilock is only a phone call away and we’re committed to providing the best customer experience in the industry.

Unilock 1-800-UNILOCK

Don’t forget to drop by the Outdoor Do-It-Yourself Centre on Saturday, March 14, Unilock Day, to discover tips and tricks for choosing the right product, and handy how-to demonstrations.

OR, drop by the UNILOCK® Idea Centre in Georgetown to explore project ideas and get helpful advice.


Mark and Ben’s To Do List: Late Winter


Garden Tips From Mark & Ben

After enjoying time off for the holiday season, we are looking forward to the year ahead. Some suggestions that will get your gardening season off to an early and fine start:

1. Feed the birds. Use a quality seed mix so that it does not get wasted and you attract quality birds.  We recommend Mark’s Choice Bird Feast (and the other products in the line up) exclusive to Home Hardware.

You will pay more for Mark’s Choice bird seed. And you will get more
birds.  Customer testimonials tell us so.

2. Enjoy your amaryllis. And enter our contest. As the blooms finish, cut them off, stem included. But keep the long, strap-like leaves intact as they are the ‘food factory’ of the bulb, converting energy in the sun into plant sugars that beef up the bulb so that it will bloom again next winter. Isn’t Mother Nature amazing?

3. Buy seeds. Whether you choose to shop the seed catalogues (of which we have many. Ontario Seed and Veseys in PEI are favourites) or peruse the seed racks at your local Home Hardware (where you will find 8 premium seed varieties in the Mark’s Choice line up) be sure to do it soon.

First, you are only going to get busier as the gardening season
approaches and this job does not get easier when you are time-stressed.

Secondly, the selection is at its best. Don’t be disappointed.

4. Don’t start seeds. Unless you are growing geraniums or impatiens (do people still grow impatiens?) which should be started later this month. Seed starting becomes a priority next month.

For more advice and answers to over 10,000 gardening questions, visit and sign up for Mark and Ben’s free monthly newsletter.

Gilda’s (Club) Gnome Garden At Canada Blooms

Gnome Garden at Canada Blooms

When you come to Canada Blooms in March, make sure to look for Gilda’s (Club) Gnome Garden.

20 adorable gnomes, painted by local celebrities and artists, will be planted in the garden, and ready for bidding on in a silent auction. Money raised from the auction will go to Gilda’s Club of Greater Toronto, an organization that supports people who are living with cancer, and their families. Gilda’s Club was named and developed in honour of Gilda Radner, the actor and comedian and one of the originators of Saturday Night Live.

The mission of Gilda’s Club is to ensure that all people impacted by any cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action and sustained by community. Emotional and social support are essential to a complete cancer care plan. All networking and support groups, educational workshops and social activities are provided free of charge.

The 5 core programmes of Gilda’s Club are: support groups for adults, teens and children, education workshops, healthy lifestyle activities, art-based programmes, and referrals and resources. The Club also hosts a March break camp and a July summer camp for children whose lives have been affected by a cancer diagnosis in the family.

Up above is a sneak peek of some of the gnomes that will be up for grabs. To the right is the National Ballet’s Artist-in-Residence and frequent judge on So You Think You Can Dance Canada, Rex Harrington‘s gnome.

Sincerity Dahlia, Canada Blooms Flower of the Year 2020

Sincerity Dahlia by Syngenta

Canada Blooms is excited to announce the Canada Blooms Flower of the Year for 2020 is the Sincerity Dahlia (Dahlia x hybrida) from Syngenta Flowers North America.

How can you best describe the Sincerity Dahlia — big, bold and beautiful! This annual charmer sees lots of early blooms (3”-4”) and has large pink and white bi-colour flowers with just a touch of yellow at their centre, making the Sincerity Dahlia truly eye-catching.

The Sincerity is compact and dense, well-branched plants make a shapely backdrop for the showy blooms. Displaying best in mid- to late summer and early fall, Sincerity is a perfect choice for the landscape and high-end patio containers or to fill holes that develop in perennial borders. Dahlias can easily be overwintered indoors.

The Sincerity Dahlia was selected for the Editor’s Choice Medal of Excellence Award at Cultivate 2019 (a growers convention held each year in Ohio).

You can expect to see close to 500 of these stunning Sincerity Dahlias in gardens and featured areas at Canada Blooms this spring.

Mark & Ben Cullen’s Ultimate To-Do List For November

Mark & Ben Fall Picture

Mark and Ben Cullen Garden Tips

Garden Experts Mark and Ben Cullen give us their list of things to do to get your gardens ready for winter.

We have been busy in our gardens getting ready for winter. Invest some time now for a great looking garden come spring.  Here is a list of our recommended activities:

  • Apply Wilt-pruf to broad leaved evergreens like rhododendrons, boxwood, holly and the like to prevent winter desiccation (apply when temperatures are above freezing).
  • Start your amaryllis bulbs now to make sure you are ready for our 2020 amaryllis photo contest. Every year we host an amaryllis photo contest. You will find contest details in our February newsletter. Start your amaryllis now and take photos when the fabulous blooms are at their peak. Subscribe to our newsletter for more info.
  • Wrap fruit trees. Wrap the trunk of fruit trees with a plastic spiral guard to prevent rodent damage in winter. Mice and rabbits can wreak havoc on young, tender bark.
  • Plant garlic cloves about 4 cm deep and 10 cm apart. Use loose, open, sandy soil as they like water to drain away from them. Your garlic crop will be ready to harvest next August. Watch our video.
  • Wrap evergreens with two layers of burlap. One layer to protect against the burning sun as it reflects off snow and another to protect evergreens from wind. This is especially true for cedars, junipers and like, that are on the east side of a road, where they catch the prevailing west wind with salt spray. Watch our video.
  • After the first serious frost, dig up your dahlias and lay the ‘bulbs’ (tubers) in the sun to dry for a day or two. Store in a large, craft paper leaf bag with dry peat moss or shredded newspaper in a cool but DRY place.   Plan to plant them up in March for a repeat performance next season.
  • Do not cut back fall flowering ornamental grasses, coneflower, rudebeckia and all of the autumn flowering plants that produce a seed head. The birds will forage the seeds well past the first snow fall.
  • Rake leaves onto your garden. Off your lawn, on to your garden. Or into your compost pile. Either way, they will rot down over the winter and provide needed nourishment to all plants that grow. Do not put them to the curb. Watch our video.
  • And look for the 2020 edition of Harrowsmith’s Almanac. Amazingly packed with essential information. Enjoy the last days of fall gardening and be sure to visit us at Canada Blooms, March 13 to 22, 2020. It will be an early spring!∼ Mark and Ben

For more advice and answers to over 10,000 gardening questions, visit and sign up for Mark and Ben’s free monthly newsletter.

Considerations for Choosing the Right Product and Colour for your home by UNILOCK®

Unilock Info Centre

As the original manufacturer of concrete patio pavers in North America, UNILOCK® has earned a fine reputation for quality and become one of the most trusted names in the industry. With more than 10 billion stones in the ground to date, we’ve sold more pavers than any other company.

UNILOCK® knows that choosing the right colour of pavers for your home can be a daunting task, so here is some advice to consider for projects you may be considering around your house.

Unilock Existing Architecture Consider Existing Architecture

For most projects, the house is the most significant structure to consider. Many homeowners feel compelled to match the color of their pavers to the color of their house but an exact match is not necessary and sometimes not ideal. Instead, try to stay within the same color ‘tone’; if your home’s brick or siding is a warm brown tone, consider paver options within this color family. Likewise, if your home is a cool grey, consider this family of colors for your pavers. In this case, Town Hall Heritage Red was chosen for this warm-toned home.

Unilock Applications Consider the Application

Different colors are well suited to different applications. For example, pool decks are best designed in lighter colors that absorb less heat from the summer sun and are more comfortable for bare feet. In contrast, a high traffic driveway, or BBQ area that is prone to spills may be better suited to a darker color. Choosing a paver that offers Easy Clean stain resistance is another option. Here we see Umbriano Summer Wheat used with a Copthorne Burgundy Red.

Unilock Key Elements Complement other Key Elements

In this backyard project, homeowners decided to pull colors from the home’s roof and trim to define a cozy firepit area. Any nearby structure can be used for inspiration, including natural elements like a rocky outcropping or a stand of trees. Consider using color as a method to establish different areas of your project (cooking, dining, lounging), to direct people from one area to another or to visually signal the edges of pools and steps. And don’t forget about pillars, planters and landscape walls. The color of these vertical elements can also be chosen to coordinate or contrast with the surrounding flatwork.

Unilock Accent or Border Add an accent or border

Think one color is boring? Add a border, accent or inlay in your design with a different color to create a subtle variation that is appealing to the eye. By using the same accent in your walls, pillars or planters you will create a cohesive look and feel, and make your project feel truly special. Products featured here are Artline, Brussels Dimensional, Series and Umbriano.

Unilock Mix and Match Mix and match online

Simply drag and drop various borders, accents and color swatches next to each other and start to envision the possibilities.

Unilock Samples Physical Samples

Visit one of our Outdoor Idea Centers and take home FREE product samples. Or ask your contractor to bring samples to your home. Seeing samples in natural light will show the truest color and can help you to visualize how the project will look next to your home and existing landscape.

Unilock 1-800-UNILOCK

Don’t forget to drop by the Outdoor Do-It-Yourself Centre on Saturday, March 14, Unilock Day, to discover tips and tricks for choosing the right product, and handy how-to demonstrations.

OR, drop by the UNILOCK® Idea Centre in Georgetown to explore project ideas and get helpful advice.

Unilock Downloadable Info Page

Garden Like A Pro: Your September Garden

Fall Gardening picture from

Mark and Ben Cullen Garden Tips

Garden Experts Mark and Ben Cullen give us their list of things to do to prepare your September Garden

  1. Dig and divide.
    Perennials that flowered in early to mid summer can be dug up and divided. Replant the divisions around your yard in the appropriate places or give them away if you have run out of space. A short list of candidates: peonies (mid September is the BEST time to divide mature plants), hostas, monarda, daylilies, rudbeckia and veronica. Be sure that the soil is moist when you dig up the mature perennial.
  2. Plant spring flowering bulbs.
    The boat has arrived from The Netherlands and we recommend that you check out the selection at your favourite retailer for the best selection of the season. Fact is, they don’t replenish the ‘hard to find’ varieties of tulips, daffodils, narcissus, hyacinths and the like later in the fall season. Even if you just store your new purchases in your garage for a few weeks, at least you have the varieties and colours that you really want.
  3. Speaking of spring flowering bulbs, check out the Mark’s Choice bulb collections at Home Hardware. The collections include ‘Naturalizing’ bulbs that will grow and improve year over year, a ‘Canadian’ collection that celebrates our great country with names like Vancouver, Calgary, Mountie and Toronto. All great garden performers. There is a ‘Fragrance’ collection and a Deer & Rabbit Resistant collection. All great value for the money.
  4. Compost.
    a. empty
    b. fill.
    Not to oversimplify this, but your garden needs the natural goodness that is contained in your backyard composting unit and your now-empty composting unit will provide a valuable service this autumn when the leaves fall and you yank your spent annuals and veggie plants out of the ground.
  5. Start a new lawn or thicken an established one.
    This is the best time of year to sow fresh grass seed. Germination is sure and quick with the cool evening temperatures, increased rainfall and the reliably heavy morning dew. Spread Mark’s Choice Lawn soil about 2 cm thick before broadcasting Iron Plus Premium grass seed over the area. Rake smooth, step on it to get the seed/soil in firm contact and water well and frequently. Stand back and marvel at how right this advice is and how smart you are.

If you’re looking for a quicker way to thicken your lawn, check out Iron
Plus 4-in-1 Recovery. It contains grass seed, compost, iron and fertilizer.
Spread it over your lawn with a fertilizer spreader and water deeply.  The
compost will swell with the moisture and help the grass seed germinate

For more advice and answers to over 10,000 gardening questions, visit and sign up for Mark and Ben’s free monthly newsletter.

Photo From

Garden Like A Pro: Pollinator Plants

Bee Pic from

Mark and Ben Cullen Garden Tips

The decline of the honeybee and monarch butterfly population has our attention. As gardeners, our goal is to plant something that helps to attract and nurture the beneficial insects in our neighbourhood, provides natural beauty and colour AND is low maintenance.

Our solution: planting native plants in our outdoor space. This will provide a source of nourishment for pollinators while enhancing the local environment in measurable ways and creating a beautiful, low maintenance garden.

Inspired?  There are some ‘tricks’ that you need to keep in mind: so called ‘little things’ that will help you to maximize the positive impact of your efforts.  Here are our top tips:

1- Explore your options. And keep in mind that a succession of blooming times will maximize the population of pollinators. If you just plant Purple Cone Flower you will have masses of colour from mid July through late August but little else to show for your efforts over the balance of the season. We choreograph our pollinator gardens with crocus, daffodils and narcissus (late April through early May), Lungwort (pulmonaria), Foamflower, cilantro, oregano, Columbine and sweet woodruff takes over mid May through early June. Come early summer, we feature cardinal flower (a hummingbird magnet!), catmint, coral bells and many hosta varieties in our gardens.

As the season progresses, there are many plants that provide opportunities for foraging butterflies and feeding hummingbirds including Echinacea, rudbeckia, late flowering hostas and one of our favourites is borage. Come September and October, butterflies and bees love sedum spectabile, asters and monarda (bee balm) in our gardens.

Annual flowers that are pollinator magnets right into the fall months include sunflowers, zinnias, sweet alyssum and cosmos.

This is not an exhaustive list, but a starter to help get you thinking in the right direction.
Note that not all of our suggestions are native plants. In our opinion, if a plant is rich in nectar and/or pollen and therefore attracts pollinators it should be considered.

2 – Plant host plants. Monarch butterflies lay eggs exclusively on native milkweed. While it is late to start them from seed, it can certainly be done, and you will succeed in producing a healthy crop for next year if you get started now as milkweed is perennial. Once monarch larvae have hatched and fed on the milkweed, they move on to other food sources in your garden. Milkweed seeds are available on many seed racks at your favourite garden retailer including Home Hardware.

3- Place habitat. Garden retailers now offer a wide selection of habitat for many beneficial insects. Mason bee houses are available in a variety of models including a British import that features paper straws in a 10 cm round nesting ‘box’ that you hang on an east or south facing wall. Mason bees lay their eggs in the straws and you encourage an increase in effective pollinators to your neighbourhood. Look for ‘insect hotels’ and of course nesting boxes for birds, like the tree swallow.

4- Water. This is the single most impactful feature that you can add to your garden if you are interested in attracting pollinators and beneficial wildlife. Your yard can become the watering hole for a host of butterflies, native bees, dragon flies (yes, they are beneficial and they eat a lot of mosquitoes), frogs, toads and you name it. All you must do is make sure that the water is fresh and available to all who pass by. And when they do, watch out because babies will result and that means more ‘beneficials’! Many insects will bathe and drink where shallow water occurs.  For butterflies, fill a container with water and line it with marbles, with water just below the top of the marbles, will help provide access to the water, without the risk of drowning.

Attracting pollinators to your yard or balcony provides benefits to your entire community: 30% of the food that we eat is pollinated by insects and hummingbirds.

Keep in mind that bees are attracted to white, yellow, blue and purple flowers more so than other colours.

For more information go to

For more advice and answers to over 10,000 gardening questions, visit and sign up for Mark and Ben’s free monthly newsletter.

Living Coral Is The Colour Of The Year 2019

Pantone Colour of the Year: Coral

This year’s colour of the year is Pantone 16-1546 (Living Coral) so you can expect to see a number of pinky/orangy/coral plants in the garden centres this year.

Here are a few from Proven Winners to consider:

Infinity® Salmon Impatiens (Annual):
Vigorous, upright plants with large flowers; great flowering colour for shade areas. Deadheading not necessary.

Oso Easy® Mango Salsa Rose (Shrub):
The continuous blooms cover the tidy mound of dark, glossy foliage. This is a wonderful choice for mass plantings or adding unusual colour to mixed borders.

Toucan® Coral Canna (Annual):
This Canna Lily will bloom all summer, it is extremely heat tolerant – loving both heat and humidity. they can take damp conditions, but they are not especially water needy.

Pyromania® Hot and Cold
Red Hot Poker (Perennial):

Bring unique drama to your landscape with the spiky flowers and upright habit of this perennial. Drought resistant and pollinator friendly.

Check out these at your local garden centres. For some more ideas visit the Proven Winners Website.

Our Recipe for a Healthy Lawn

Spring Grass

Mark and Ben Cullen Garden Tips

Step 1. Fertilize. There is a reason why your lawn looks its best early in spring. Our climate suits the needs of quality grass very well. There is lots of moisture in the ground in spring. The soil and evening air is cool. Grass is a ‘cool season’ crop.

Fertilizer enhances the elements that occur naturally at the root zone of your lawn. Fact is, the ingredients in a quality bag of lawn fertilizer are not required to make your lawn green. Mother Nature will do that for you this time of year without any help. However, ‘quality’ is the keyword and a quality product can make a world of difference over the long haul.

Nitrogen (the first number in the analysis) is craved by your lawn more than anything each spring. If the nitrogen in your lawn fertilizer is ‘slow release’ it will green up quickly and stay that way for up to 10 weeks.

Iron provides the fastest possible green up. Look for ‘chelated’ iron as grass plants will absorb it efficiently. Not so with other ‘iron’ products. Also, look for iron that will not stain your driveway or deck. All we use on our lawn is CIL Iron Plus. It guarantees a visibly greener lawn in 72 hours or your money back. We consider it the most sophisticated lawn food on the market. Made in Canada too.

Step 2. Lawn Recovery. Snow mould, dog burn ‘spots’ (yeah female dogs!) or thin patches of grass all need attention. A lawn recovery product is applied through your lawn fertilizer spreader. It contains fertilizer and features pelletized compost and grass seed. After you spread it, the dry compost swells on contact with moisture (either rain or water that you apply) and provides a medium for the grass seed to germinate and grow. The fertilizer sustains the newly germinated grass plants for about 3 weeks, at which time you should apply a slow release lawn fertilizer.

‘Lawn recovery’ is a substitute for bags of lawn soil and grass seed. Mind you, if you would rather spread quality soil over thin patches on your lawn, apply quality grass seed, rake it smooth, step on it or roll it to bring the seed/soil in firm contact, then go for it. This method has worked for generations.

Step 3. Aerate? Not likely. Only aerate your lawn if it is compacted. Heavy foot traffic will squeeze the air out of the soil and prevent the roots of grass plants from breathing. I recommend a small hand-aerator for this job. Only use a core aerator. This will remove small plugs of soil from the compacted lawn.

Step 4. Grass seed? Applying quality grass seed to the thin patches in your lawn can really help to green it up and sustain it through the season but I emphasise ‘quality’. Remember that the pedigree of your lawn is in the bag. Buy the cheap stuff and get a cheap lawn. We use seed with ‘Surestart Xtreme’ as it germinates in 7 days and produces deeper roots than average grass seed.

The key to growing grass seed is to use soil that is weed free and contains lots of organic compost for the seed to root into and to keep it wet long enough to put a root down to sustain itself.
Satisfying long term results occur when you pay attention to lawn health at this time of year.

For more information and to answer over 10,000 gardening questions, visit and sign up for Mark and Ben’s free monthly newsletter.

Delivery of Hundreds of Plants to Cummer Lodge Marks 12 Years of Donations

News Release:  March 19, 2019

Delivery of hundreds of plants to Cummer Lodge marks 12 years of donations to City of Toronto by Canada Blooms

Residents and staff at the City of Toronto’s Cummer Lodge long-term care home were joined by Deputy Mayor Councillor Michael Thompson (Councillor for Ward 21 Scarborough Centre) and Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee, Councillor John Filion (Ward 18 Willowdale) and celebrity gardener Ben Cullen today to accept more than 600 plants. The plants were donated by Canada Blooms and delivered by Procter’s Cartage.

This is the 12th year Canada Blooms has donated plants to a long-term care home operated by the City. The donation of indoor and outdoor plants will be enjoyed by the 391 residents who live at Cummer Lodge, as well as by clients of the adult day program at Willowdale Manor Supportive Housing program and seniors in the local community.

The City’s Long-Term Care Homes and Services division is a leader in providing ground-breaking services for healthy aging, with a commitment to compassion, accountability, respect and excellence (CARE).

“This is a win-win for everyone involved in this generous annual donation. The plants and flowers bring such joy to everyone receiving them. I thank Canada Blooms for their continued commitment to the City’s seniors and its residents in long-term care.”  – Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson

“I’m happy to hear that this year’s donation will complement the natural beauty of the Cummer Lodge grounds. The outdoor plants that have been donated this year will add to the enjoyment of residents and the local community for many years to come.”   – Councillor John Filion

“I personally look forward to being a part of this donation every year. It brings me great pleasure to see how receiving these plants and flowers delights the residents and clients in long-term care homes.”   – Terry Caddo, General Manager of Canada Blooms

About Canada Blooms
Canada Blooms presented by Mark’s Choice is an annual world-class festival that connects people to the joys and benefits of nature through experiences with gardens and flowers by promoting, educating, inspiring and celebrating all aspects of horticulture. Co-locating with the National Home show to create North America’s Largest Home and Garden event, Canada Blooms is a not-for-profit organization that gives back throughout the year by funding community garden projects around Ontario. Canada Blooms is also dedicated to providing the community with horticulture expertise, education and resources on an ongoing basis. Now in its 23rd year, Canada Blooms was founded by Landscape Ontario and The Garden Club of Toronto. Each year it is supported by a committed group of partners, sponsors and volunteers.

About the City of Toronto
Toronto is Canada’s largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of more than 2.9 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world’s most livable cities. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us on Twitter at, on Instagram at or on Facebook at

This news release is also available on the City’s website:

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Media contact:  Aggie Fortier, Strategic Communications, 416-397-5326,

Proven Winners 2019 Must See Plants at Canada Blooms

Proven Winners 2019 Must See Plants

Proven Winners searches the world to bring you vibrant flowering annuals, perennials and shrubs that deliver the most beautiful garden performance. Drop by the Proven Winners “Must See Plants” Showcase  at Canada Blooms for a peek at what is new and exciting for the 2019 growing season, you’re sure to fall in love.

Here are are just five that you won’t want to miss:

1. Angelface® Cascade White Angelonia
Gardeners love summer snapdragons for their extreme heat, humidity and drought tolerance. Until now they were strictly upright plants that make for showy thrillers in containers and landscapes. The new Angelface Cascade varieties are different in that they have larger flowers and have branches reaching outward and downward. This makes them perfect for hanging baskets and upright containers as a filler and a spiller. Pair them with other sun loving annuals and they will easily weave their way in and around to create full combination containers with their all summer blooms. Full sun, 8-14” in height with a spread of 12-30”.

2. Amazel™ Basil Ocimum
This is truly a game changing plant—it is the first Italian sweet basil that is highly resistant to downy mildew, a disease that often plaques basil. And since it is a sterile plant, this large vigorous basil produces a higher amount of large, deliciously aromatic leaves. The more you harvest, the better it grows. It’s time to make the switch from your old basil…to Amazel! Will reach a height of 36” with a spread of 24”, very large for a basil variety. Best in full sun.

3. Truffula Pink Gomphrena
This is an easy to grow annual with hot pink, cotton ball-shaped blooms that pollinators adore. Also a perfect plant for fresh bouquets and dried crafts and arrangements too. A plant that thrives in heat and humidity. Will reach 30” in height, with a spread of 24”. Best in full sun.

4. Supertunia Vista® Paradise Petunia
If you love our Supertunia Vista® Bubblegum then you’ll love how this new variety will blanket your landscape with a wave of watermelon pink blooms. This plant will continue to thrive in heat and humid conditions with no deadheading needed. Will reach 24” in height with a spread up to 36”. Best in full sun with a regular application of water soluble plant food for amazing performance.

5. Rockin’ Fuchsia Salvia
This is a hummingbird magnet like no other plant! These intense fuchsia flowers on black stems have deep throats that hold plenty of nectar for your favorite pollinators. A color never seen before in this type of salvia. Will grow up to 36” in height with a spread of 30”. Best in full sun.

While at the Proven Winners Showcase speak to the professionals, because whether you have large garden, small space corner, or container they will be able to help you choose the right plants to be the envy of the neighbourhood.

Visit: Proven Winners

Valentine Gifts That Are Outside of the Box

Valentine's Day

Mark and Ben Cullen Garden Tips

Let’s reflect together for a moment on the very popular tradition of giving long stem cut roses on Valentine’s Day.  We know that this is a crowd pleaser, but then, are you trying to please the crowd or your sweetheart?

Fact: Roses are exotic. They originated elsewhere.  Notwithstanding the native ‘wild rose of Alberta’, roses as we know them in the garden, originated in far reaching lands.  Give your Valentine a journey to another part of the world to see roses as neither of you have seen them before. England is the home of modern day rose breeding.  Go to the famous rose breeding grounds of the David Austen Rose garden near Coventry (  Tour the rose gardens of Hampton Court (  If the timing works, go to the annual Hampton Court Flower and Garden Show the first week of July.  It is the second largest exhibition of its’ kind in the world (the 1st is the Chelsea Flower Show in London, mid-May).

Keep in mind that you do not actually have to travel all that far to find great rose gardens. There is a fabulous collection of roses on the grounds of Rideau Hall in Ottawa where many of the winter hardy roses developed in Canada are on display for all to see (for free) and the Experimental Farm in Ottawa offers another colourful glimpse into rose breeding programs in Canada.

In Toronto there are some terrific rose gardens including Casa Loma ( and the formal gardens of High Park (free admission).

One more suggestion: while thinking of giving the ‘experience’ of long stem cut roses without necessarily giving a dozen of them, consider giving 2 passes to Canada Blooms in Toronto. This is the largest and by far the most impressive annual ‘garden event’ in the country.  There will be roses, to be sure.

The ‘cost’ of two tickets is $20 each but you can get an Early Bird discount online at right now.

Give a couple of tickets to Canada’s premier flower and garden festival, a long stem red rose and maybe a dinner out. What could be a better Valentine’s Day gift?

Dates for Canada Blooms are Friday, March 8 to Sunday March 17.

For more information and to answer over 10,000 gardening questions, visit and sign up for Mark and Ben’s free monthly newsletter.

Christmas Cactus Care

Christmas Cactus

Did you know the Christmas Cactus (Schlumberga x buckleyi,) is originally from the tropical rain forests in Southeast Brazil? They lived in the treetops, branch hollows and decayed leaves above the ground. So not the hot, dry conditions of the desert as the word ‘cactus’ might make us think.

Christmas cactus grow better when they are “pot bound”, or when the container and root system are about the same size. They should also have organic, humus-rich soil. They require bright, indirect light or filtered light and enough moister that potting material does not dry out, but don’t over water. Rainwater or snow melted to room temperature is the best to prevent mineral and salt buildups.

So, enjoy the beautiful plant, keep it in bright window light (with partial sun, too much can burn the leaves) and water it moderately over the holidays. The cactus requires frequent and thorough watering, during its active growth in spring and summer, keeping the soil slightly moist. Allow Christmas cactus moisture levels to drop and dry out some between watering intervals, but never completely, and never let the plant sit in water, as this will lead to root and stem rot.

Re-potting should be done once a year in a little larger pot with clean organic soil, preferably in the spring. When new growth starts in the spring add a diluted solution of houseplant fertilizer every two to three weeks until the new growth has finished (around mid summer).

If you would like your Christmas cactus to bloom again, around mid-September or October you are going to have to start paying attention to temperature and light. Keep the plant at cool nighttime temperatures (10-12˚C) and then warmer daytime (around 15˚C) and you should see buds by December. The plant needs continuous, uninterrupted darkness for 12-14 hours (that means no artificial light at all) and bright to medium window exposure for the remaining hours. But, if the plant is in a room where the lights are even turned on for a short period of time, the flowers might not come. This is why you might see a cactus with blooms on only one part of it.

When you start to see buds, the plant can then remain in the window for display and watering you increase. Remember to keep the soil moist but not soggy.

Photo: World Of Succulents




Botanical Treasures At The Toronto Zoo: The Wollemi pine

Wollemi Pine

On your next visit to the Australasia Pavilion at the Toronto Zoo, keep your eyes peeled in the walk-through aviary for a very special coniferous tree. Planted beside the soft-needled Norfolk Island pines in the first garden bed (between the pathway and the tree kangaroo exhibit) is a Wollemi (“WALL-em-eye”) pine (Wollemia nobilis).  Although this tree is only six feet tall, it is highly distinctive with its flattened, elongated leaves. Different from all other living plants, the Wollemi pine closely resembles fossils from 90-200 million years ago, when its ancestors were chewed on by dinosaurs. And just like dinosaurs, this species was thought to be long extinct. Imagine the botanical world’s surprise when, in 1994, a grove of these prehistoric trees was discovered in a remote canyon in eastern Australia!

How did such a unique tree avoid detection for so long? Although fossilized Wollemi pines have been found across most of the southern hemisphere, the modern-day Wollemi pine is critically endangered. Only 80 mature trees and approximately 300 young trees are known in the wild, and they are all found in one remote 10 km2 area of Wollemi National Park near Sydney, Australia. Because of their rarity and uniqueness, Wollemi pines are the focus of an intense research and conservation program with conservationists safeguarding the fragile wild population is by cultivating seedlings in botanical gardens. This is the plant equivalent of the zoo’s animal breeding programs!

Today, Wollemi pines are available to the public: their sale helps to raise conservation funds for the wild population. The Toronto Zoo acquired two Wollemi pines in 2009 – which both are exact genetic matches to one of the original trees discovered in 1994. Although they were both planted in the aviary, the second tree recently returned to the greenhouse for rejuvenation. But keep your eyes peeled: you never know when and where in Australasia this “pine-osaur” might show up when it returns!

Toronto Zoo Logo

Vegepod Makes Growing Simple


Vegepod – A vegetable garden kit that makes growing simple!

Vegepod began eight years ago like any good invention, out of failure and necessity.  Matt Harris, inventor and CEO, tried like 80 percent of us at some stage in life to grow and harvest vegetables at home and again like the vast majority of those people, kept failing for a variety of reasons. Matt set out to construct a vegetable garden kit that could go anywhere and solve all problems in one solution. Thus the birth of Vegepod. Nine years on and Vegepods have finally made it to Canada.

Vegepod’s innovation and incomparable gardening success rates were then realised on a winning appearance on the Australian “Shark Tank” 2 years ago. Naomi Simson jumped on board as an investor and the show created a spike in awareness for growing vegetables with Vegepod in Australia.

It’s easy to set up, simple to fill and requires little ongoing maintenance. The ideal solution for the busy householder who wants a veggie patch but doesn’t have the time or effort required to build one. Not only is it easy and effective for the common householder but its fantastic for all ages and communities ranging from kindergartens, schools, aged care, disabilities and health care services. Programs have been developed or are currently under development for these specific sectors in the community which have been designed by Dr Kate Neale from the Southern Cross University and funded by the Australian Government in conjunction with Vegepod. The programs are designed to empower and engage the participants, develop life skills (build capacity), increase organisational sustainability, contribute to urban greenspaces, provide a potential avenue for micro-business / social enterprises and maximise the therapeutic benefits of gardening.

The benefits of gardening are well known. Wellbeing and resilience is linked to time spent in gardens. The benefits are both physical and spiritual/ emotional. Benefits include: lower anxiety, improved concentration, engaged senses, encouraged healthy eating and living, promotion of being active, development of fine and gross motor skills (if you’ve ever planted carrot seeds, you’ll know what we mean), social interactions with others, an increased sense of belonging, inclusion and connection to place.

In conclusion Vegepod is a solution for growing vegetables which makes it simple and easy for anyone, anywhere.

Come see the Vegepod Garden and Canada Blooms 2019 and see why it is the right garden for you, or visit our website.

Winterizing Tips

Wrapping Cedars


Mark and Ben Cullen Garden Tips

Winterizing Tips

Those of us who love the outdoors and enjoy puttering around the yard are always looking for an excuse to do something in the fresh air. If you thought you were done with this year’s lawn and garden, we have a question: Have you taken care of the following?

  • Wrapped cedars with two layers of burlap. Cedars nearest a road (and on the east side of it, especially where they are susceptible to westerly winds full of salt spray) are most vulnerable.       Wrap them with a layer of burlap to prevent the permanent damage of salt and wrap them again to protect them from the drying effects of the wind, especially if they are exposed to the north or west.
  • Fertilize your lawn. This time of year provides an opportunity to apply the most important application of lawn food. Why? Your lawn will absorb the nutrients of a fall lawn food before it goes to sleep for the winter. Like a bear that forages before bedding down for the winter, your lawn stores nutrients and sugars in its roots right now in anticipation of the long cold winter ahead. Look for a fertilizer formula, like CIL 12-0-18.
  • Protect fruit trees. If we get an average dump of snow this winter, bunnies and mice can do a lot of damage to fruit trees that are less than 6 years old by nibbling away the bark with their rather sharp teeth. With little to fill their tummies in winter, they resort to this sort of thing. “Bark is better than nothing.” they must be thinking. Wrap the trunk of each tree with a plastic spiral that extends about a metre up the trunk. After about 6 years or so, the trunk of most trees has become too tough even for rodents to enjoy. Be sure to wrap crabapples and flowering cherries as rodents don’t know fruiting from non-fruiting trees that flower.
  • Compost. All of your leaves are down and you no doubt have raked them off your lawn and on to your garden. Good.       If you have a compost pile or bin, now is an excellent time to empty the contents onto your garden.       Spread it with a rake and let it sit there over the winter. Come early spring, earthworms will pull the raw compost under the surface of the soil and convert it into nitrogen-rich castings (poop). If you have not built or purchased a compost, now is a good time to do it as there is no shortage of yard ‘waste’ (actually a ‘resource’), grass clippings and fallen leaves to fill it.

Rhododendrons and other wind-sensitive evergreens like taxus (yews) and boxwood, are best protected with one application of Wilt-Pruf. It prevents the drying effects of wind and extraordinarily low humidity during a Canadian winter.  Save what is left in the bottle to apply to your fresh cut Christmas tree.  It works better than ANY preservative.

For more information and to answer over 10,000 gardening questions, visit and sign up for Mark and Ben’s free monthly newsletter.

Canada Blooms Thanks Volunteers

Canada Blooms Volunteer Appreciation

The Canada Blooms Volunteer Appreciation Event took place at The Toronto Botanical Garden in late September. We would like to thank all the volunteers who were able to join us, and those who were unable to come out, for all the hard work and dedication that they have shown Canada Blooms over the years.

Volunteers helped us welcome our new sponsor Mark’s Choice and get ready for 2019 with “A Family Affair” themed lunch with a ‘Dress My Mummy’ contest, win door prizes, take in a container seminar with Mark Cullen, Ben Cullen and Home Smith Gardening’s Tanya Smith. After lunch, volunteers were able to take in Zimsculpt, a special display of sculptures from Zimbabwe in the gardens at the TBG until the end of September.

Thanks to the Toronto Botanical Garden and their wonderful staff who did an amazing job, as well as all those volunteers who helped us set up and clean up. We couldn’t have done it without you.

We would like to invite all volunteers seasoned and novice to join us for a gardener’s getaway at Canada Blooms 2019 as we celebrate what a family means to you. Work a little, play a little and share in the excitement. This is a great way to put your skill to use or learn new skills, meet people and just have fun. As a thank you each volunteer will receive a ticket to the festival (Canada Blooms/Home Show).  

Visit our Volunteer Page after November 26th to sign up. If you have any questions please contact Volunteer Coordinator at or call the main office 416-447-8655 x 7721. Come volunteer, Canada Blooms needs you to flourish.

Please note that both the TTC and GO Train have stops near the Enercare Centre, and from Monday – Friday Parking will be FREE after 4:00 pm.

November Colours

Cabbage Roses

November is not normally a month that is looked forward to.  It just is not an exciting month. It is grey and it looks dirty outside.  November also gives us hints that winter will soon start.  In the flower business November is a month that does show transition.  We move from the last remnants of fall to an in between stage of not winter and not fall.  Here in Southern Ontario we don’t have the glorious golden fall colours nor do we have the clean white of winter.  However, there is still colour to be found.

Cabbage and Kale (not the one you eat) – definitely a workhorse that is under appreciated, that reaches its full potential once colder temperatures arrive.  Although available already in the spring  as a cut flower and potted plant, it is the cooler temperatures that bring out the beautiful true colours.  Cabbage the more “rose” looking of the two and kale the more “frilly” one come in purple, whites and pinks.  All these are available from Canadian growers well into December.  Also because they can take some cold weather they can be used in outdoor planters.

Christmas Sticks

Boughs and branches – another seasonal group that jumps to the forefront at this time of year are seasonal greens and colourful branches.  Dogwood (yellow, and red), curly willow (yellow, orange and green) and birch all can be prominently seen as people decorate for the holiday season in outdoor urns and in bouquets.   Greens can be from Canada, many do come from the west coast.  Most branches are available until spring.  Other branches do make their appearance later – starting January – as that is when pussy willow, forsythia and cherry blossoms make their appearance.

∼ Ontario Flower Growers

Ontario Flower Growers

Find out more about Ontario Flower Growers

Harvest Time

Fall Harvest Picture

Garden Tips from Mark and Ben Cullen

We are always happy to hear from gardeners who have jumped on the ‘grow your own’ band wagon. Many first-time veggie gardeners are contacting us to find out what to do with their abundance of tomatoes, squash, carrots and the like.

“What now? “  Time was, you would dig it all up and stuff it in a root cellar.  Today of course, we have freezers, refrigerators and some pretty sophisticated methods for preserving fruits and veggies.

What to do with:

Tomatoes:  If you still have lots of red tomatoes the answer is simple.  Eat what you can and preserve the rest as tomato paste, ‘spaghetti’ sauce or just skin them, bag them and freeze them for future use.

If you wish to ripen the green tomatoes indoors and retrieve them from the plants before the frost gets to them, try this: use old oven racks or some other raised platform, place the green tomatoes on newspaper which is spread over the rack. Good air circulation is important.  Place in a cool place.  They will ripen in a dark room more slowly than in a bright one, but either work.  Place them on the rack(s) with a centimeter or two between each.  Turn them every couple of days and inspect for rot or mildew.  Toss the infected ones onto the compost.  We know people that have eaten tomatoes stored this way right into the first week of January.

Peppers: Harvest ripe peppers before they are hit by first frost. Wash in cool water and place in boiling water for 5 minutes.  Remove the peppers from the boiling water and allow them to cool for 1 minute.  Next wrap the peppers in plastic wrap and store in the freezer.  Peppers will last up to 30 days with this storage method.

Winter Squash: Store only fully matured squash. Harvest before the first frost.  Leave 3” of the stem attached.  Keep the squash in a warm, dry and ventilated area for 2 weeks.  Once the squash has cured you can move it into cool storage.  The ideal storage is a cold room around 50-55 degrees.  Store squash on racks so they don’t touch.  Well-cured, fully-ripe squash will keep until late February.

Potatoes: Store potatoes in an unheated basement or garage insulated to protect against freezing. The best location for home storage is cool, dark and ventilated.  Perforated plastic bags can be used to maintain humidity levels while allowing air flow.

Carrots: One option is to leave carrots in the ground and cover them with an unopened bale of straw for the winter. As you need them for cooking, pull the straw back and dig the fresh carrots out of the ground right up until the very hard frost of late December or January.   Alternatively, you can dig up all of your carrots and ‘replant’ them into bushel baskets filled with sharp sand. Keep the carrot tops intact as the root loses much of its nutrients shortly after the top is cut off.  Place the baskets in your garage, preferably against the wall that is attached to your house where the temp is about 5 degrees warmer.  You will be ‘pulling’ fresh carrots all winter long.

Apples: Harvest apples carefully to avoid bruises which will prevent them from keeping well. Late season apples are the best for storing.  Harvest before the first heavy frost.  Store apples in the dark in shallow trays of shredded newsprint.  The temperature should be cool but not frosty.  An unheated basement or garage can be an ideal storage location as long as they are free from rodents.

Keep in mind that some veggies actually improve in flavour with frost. Leeks, kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage fall into this category.

For more information and to answer over 10,000 gardening questions, visit and sign up for Mark and Ben’s free monthly newsletter.

Photo from:

What makes Canada Blooms an International Event?

Canada Blooms 2017 Toronto Flower Show International Competition

Family Affair is the theme for the Toronto Flower Show 2019. You will see many interesting interpretations of family life and relationships. Think about how you would portray “Gathering of the Clan”, “Sunday Best”, “Family Tree”, “Family Game Night”, “Dysfunctional”, Family Feud” and many more. Many of the designs call for techniques which you will not have seen.

What makes Canada Blooms an International Event? It is the competitors that come from around the world to enter a design. The 2019 International Class title is “Relatively Speaking”.

Ten countries are confirmed; Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, France, Italy, Oman, India, NAFAS Great Britain, South Africa, and the USA. These very talented women spend a lot of time and effort preparing for their visit to Canada Blooms. Some are chosen by their country to come as an award for winning top honours in their own country, others are invited because of their special skills/talent. Once confirmed, they immediately start planning their design. They consider the title, the space allotted, the colour of the set and background, learn which plant material they are allowed to bring into Canada from their particular country and which might be readily available here. We have had competitors arrive at Pearson Airport with boxes of material they intended to use only to have it confiscated at customs and immigration. Imagine the heartbreak and anxiety of having to rethink your design at the last minute!

Once here, they are well looked after. Billeted by members of the Garden Club of Toronto, they are treated as special guests in our country. There are dinners, often a trip to Niagara Falls and / or other attraction(s) and a good dollop of Canadian hospitality. Meeting these women at functions in other countries, they never fail to tell us what a good time they had in Toronto.

Make sure you come to meet them and to see their interpretation of “Relatively Speaking”. Each country will have its own unique idea of family relations. The International designs are shown for the first five days only (March 8th -12th) so make sure you come to the show early. If you come after March 12th, photographs of the international entries will be on display.

Don’t forget to bring your family, after all it is a Family Affair!

∼ Donalda Kelk, Toronto Flower Show

Mark’s Choice Named Title Sponsor of Canada Blooms

Mark's Choice Title Sponsor of Canada Blooms

Canadian gardening gurus Mark and Ben Cullen lend their brand to the country’s largest garden and floral festival

They have been involved with Canada Blooms since it was started some 23 years ago; now, they are attaching their brand to the marquee.

Canadian gardening gurus Mark and Ben Cullen have reached a five-year agreement to be the title sponsor for the country’s largest garden and floral festival and will attach their Mark’s Choice brand, available exclusively at Home Hardware, to the Canada Blooms logo and wordmark.

Mark is also a Canada Blooms board member emeritus.

“We are more than just ‘delighted’ to become lead sponsors of Canada’s greatest garden festival,” says Mark. “We are over the moon. Ben shares my passion for the mission of Canada Blooms and the extraordinary contribution that this event makes to horticulture in Canada.”

Through regular appearances on television, radio, online, in print or in person at seminars and shows, Mark and Ben Cullen connect with more than two million Canadians every week. An author of 23 books and the spokesperson for Home Hardware Lawn and Garden, Mark’s personable style and topical information has captivated audiences and continued to garner him fans across Canada.

Mark’s Choice is Mr. Cullen’s personal seal of approval on more than 200 gardening products available exclusively at Home Hardware stores across Canada.

Besides adding the Marks’ Choice name to Canada Blooms, Mr. Cullen and his son Ben will present regularly at the festival, which takes place annually over the March Break. At Canada Blooms, there is more than 200 hours of entertainment and information on the three stages, offering professional insight on gardening, landscaping design and trends.

“There is not a better name in Canadian floriculture and horticulture to associate with Canada Blooms than Mark Cullen’s,” says Terry Caddo, General Manager of Canada Blooms. “He has been an integral part of our festival since Day One, and remains the go-to authority on all things gardening in Canada.”

Co-located with the National Home Show, Canada Blooms takes place March 8th to 17th, 2019, at the Enercare Centre Exhibition Place in Toronto. For more information or for tickets, please visit Follow Canada Blooms on Twitter @CanadaBlooms and Like it on Facebook.

About Canada Blooms
Canada Blooms is an annual world-class festival that connects people to the joys and benefits of nature through experiences with gardens and flowers by promoting, educating, inspiring and celebrating all aspects of horticulture. A not-for-profit organization that gives back to the community throughout the year by funding community garden projects around Ontario, Canada Blooms is also dedicated to providing the community with horticulture expertise, education and resources on an ongoing basis.

Now entering its 23rd year, Canada Blooms was founded by Landscape Ontario and The Garden Club of Toronto. Each year it is supported by a committed group of partners, sponsors and volunteers. Canada Blooms has been named One of Ontario’s Top 100 Events by Festivals and Events Ontario and One of North America’s Top 100 Events by the American Bus Association.

About Mark’s Choice
Mark’s Choice Ltd. is a horticultural communications and marketing company, with the brand being attached to dozens of products available at Home Hardware stores across Canada — including gardening tools, soil, seeds, gloves and other equipment useful in the garden. Before a product is approved as Mark’s Choice, it must past rigorous testing, ensuring it is made from high-quality materials, meets the needs of Canadian home gardeners, is tough enough to stand up to commercial use and will help Canadians create great looking lawns and gardens. Possibly Canada’s best-known gardener, Mark’s Choice President Mark Cullen is a third generation career gardener, and a “garden communicator” unlike any other. He is a best-selling author, with more than 20 books on gardening to his credit. Mr. Cullen actively maintains his website, where he has answered more than 10,000 questions from gardeners across the country.


Good Things Come in Small Packages

Miniature Design from Pinterest

You have heard the phrase “good things come in small packages”, well whoever coined the phrase must have been thinking about miniatures. You know, those little arrangements that capture the imagination and fit into our ever-growing smaller living accommodations.

What is a miniature design you ask? A miniature is “a design with maximum dimensions of 13.3 cm (5 1/4″) in any direction (height, width, depth and diagonal). For good proportion, the container should not exceed 3.5cm (1 1/2″) in height. Appeal is greatly enhanced when exhibited in appropriately sized niches. Niche size 14 cm (5 3/4″) wide x 15cm (6″) high and 13.3 cm (5 1/4″) deep is recommended. To be viewed at eye level.” Ontario Judging Standards.

The most important element when creating a miniature floral design is scale. You must pay close attention to the relationship of size in each part of the design, each flower should be compared to the others in the arrangement, the flower(s) should be compared to the containers; any base or accessories should be compared to the container and the design as a whole. And the size of the whole design should be compared to the niche in which it will be displayed. No flower should be more than one-third the size of the container.

Here are some tips for miniatures:

  • Look for containers that are not too large but will hold enough water to keep the design fresh
  • Consider creating a cardboard template so that the design stays within size limits
  • Remember scale is the most important aspect of the design, consider using only three-quarters of the five-inch space to ensure lots of room around the design
  • Select plant material carefully, consider cedar, ivies, spirea, barberry, heather, Hydrangea florets, artemisia, cedar, baby’s breath, grasses, coral bells, miniature roses, ferns, hers like thyme and parsley, Queen Anne’s lace, and mosses, things that will be in scale with your container.
  • Condition fresh materials before you start.
  • For beginners, grey or black are the easiest colours to work with
  • Caps off toothpaste tubes or pump aerosol containers can be painted a colour to harmonize or contrast with your design.
  • For stability, use stickum to affix a button under the cap

Items you will need:

  • Floral Foam
  • Fresh or Dried Flowers
  • Manicure or Embroidery Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Eyedropper or Syringe for Watering
  • Stickum or Dollhouse Wax
  • Wire
  • Toothpicks
  • Container appropriate to type of design you wish to create

Once done, put your masterpiece eye level where it can be seen and frame the design in a small shadow box of the appropriate dimensions.

If you are a Garden Club of Toronto member consider entering a miniature design in the Toronto Flower Show at Canada Blooms. The schedule will be online by the beginning of November, so start planning now!  And if you aren’t a member, come and try your hand at making one during one of Toronto Flower Show’s pop-up demonstration/mini workshops. Watch the web site or newsletter for the dates and times closer to the festival!

Miniature floral arrangement photo borrowed from Pinterest

Fall Lawn Care Tips

Autumn Lawn Care

Garden Tips from Mark and Ben Cullen

Fall is the best time to start a new lawn from seed or to lay sod.  It is the best time to over-seed established lawns to fill in bare patches and thicken your grass.  In most parts of Canada, the best ‘grass seed sowing’ occurs from mid-August through late September.  The evening temperatures are lower and the morning dew is heavier.  As night time temperatures moderate, they are optimum for seed germination.

Preparation is the key to success.  Rake the area lightly to remove debris.  Add a 1cm to 2 cm layer of Mark’s Choice lawn soil to level out low patches in the lawn and choose the best quality seed for the best result.  The grass seed you use is the future pedigree of your lawn.  Rake the seed to smooth it and integrate it into the layer of triple mix.  Step on the area with flat-soled shoes to get the seed and soil in firm contact or, for large areas, roll with a lawn roller that is 1/3 full of water.  Fertilize with lawn starter to encourage rapid root growth.  This will help new grass get established more quickly.  Water the seeded areas and keep the soil damp until the grass is at least 3 cm high.

A thick healthy lawn is your best defense against weeds.  Feed the lawn with CIL Iron Plus for a deep green colour and healthy growth.

You can cut a lot of corners by using the new CIL Iron Plus 4 in 1.  It contains a top quality grass seed, premium grade chelated iron, a charge of nitrogen and pelletized compost, to provide a medium for the new grass seed to germinate into.

This is the best time of year to apply CIL Iron Plus.

We are frequently asked how to control lawn weeds in the absence of chemical weed killers.  The answer is simple – over seed your lawn to thicken it and compete weeds out of existence.  AND be sure to raise your lawn mower up to 2 ½ or 3 inches (7 to 9 cm).

Note that a new broadleaf weed killer was introduced last spring that is environmentally responsible.  Look for Weed Out ready to use in pump spray bottle for spot weeding or the new concentrate by the same name.

The principle compound found in this product is derived from the broad bean and the common pea plant.  Try it on dandelions and you will be impressed how it kills the root and all in a week or two.

Often grubs become active near the surface of the soil in late summer and early fall.  Grubs feed on grass roots causing the lawn to die.  Patches of dead grass will lift up easily if pulled by hand.  Skunks, raccoons and moles will also dig in the lawn to feed on grubs.  The fall is the best time to control grub populations.  Larvae hatch in the fall and can be killed quickly due to their small size.

We recommend using beneficial Green Earth nematodes to control the grub population.  These are microscopic larvae that infest the grey and white grubs in the soil.  Be sure to water thoroughly after application.   Applying beneficial nematodes in the fall is a proactive approach to controlling lawn damage next spring.

A healthy lawn will often hide the symptoms of grub damage.  A thick lawn which is watered (once a week at most) and fed properly will grow new roots quickly.  This helps mask grub damage and keep brown patches to a minimum.

Taking the time to care for your lawn this time of year pays big dividends come spring and beyond!

Sign up for Mark & Ben’s free monthly newsletter or visit

Canada Blooms 2019 Plant of The Year

Electric Love Weigela from VanBelle

Canada Blooms is pleased to announce its 2019 Plant of the Year – Electric Love™ Weigela from the Bloomin’ Easy® Date Night™ series from Van Belle Nursery.

The new Date Night™ Electric Love™ Weigela’s shockingly vibrant red bell-shaped flowers cover dark foliage for a unique look and rich contrast (it’s the first red-flowered, dark leaved weigela on the market). It’s a product of the world’s leading Weigela breeding program and an excellent performer in the landscape. Electric Love is compact and showy, you can easily plant it along a walkway, in mixed garden beds or as the star of a decorative patio pot. And because it’s easy to grow, you don’t need to know a thing about gardening to succeed season after season!

“Electric Love offers deep red flowers that cover very dark foliage, which is quite different than what you’ll find in garden centers today,” says Brand Manager, DeVonne Friesen. Electric Love will look great on the shelf and amazing in the landscape.”

Bloomin’ Easy® brings improved, easy-to-grow plants to the time-strapped homeowner. This line offers three simple steps to success: plant, water, and relax. It is easy for garden enthusiasts who are busy but who appreciate the value of a beautifully landscaped yard. The Electric Love Weigela and all Bloomin’ Easy® plants are resilient, colourful and low maintenance, perfect for both the novice and expert alike.

Hardiness: Zone 4, can handle temperatures down to -34 Celsius or -30 Fahrenheit
Likes: Full to part sun, or 4-6 hours of sun per day
Mature Size: 1-2′ tall and 2-3′ wide, low and mounding

For more information please contact Kevin Cramer at Van Belle or call 1-888-826-2355

Read the Van Bell Nursery Press Release

Watch the video:

Plant Profile: Bobo® Hydrangea from Proven Winners

Bobo Hydrangea from Proven Winners

The Bobo® dwarf panicle hydrangea has been turning heads since it was first discovered in trial gardens in Belgium years ago! This variety is exceptionally floriferous with a compact frame that is smothered with large, lacy, white coned shaped blooms every summer. Held upright on strong stems, enjoy these large flowers as they continue to grow and lengthen as they bloom. The flowers age to a lovely soft pink and will be a nice addition to a vase on your table indoors too.

Bobo is hardy in zones 3-8 and will do best in full to part sun. Since it can take temperatures down to -40°C we know it will enjoy life far north! Expect it to reach a height and width of 2 ½ to 3 feet (just under a meter). Bobo hydrangea is adaptable to many soils with only moderate moisture needed, and will bloom each summer regardless of climate, soil, pH or pruning.

For more information on this hydrangea, and to find a store near you, please visit

Bobo Hydrangea from Proven Winners

Bobo Hydrangea from Proven Winner


Gardener’s To-Do List for the Middle of August

Garden Tips from Mark and Ben Cullen

We are on the continental divide of the gardening season. On your right is the last four months that you invested and the flowers and fruit that your garden has produced to date. On your left is another four months (or so, depending on where you live). This is when apples ripen and tomatoes are harvested. To many of us, the best is yet to come.

Here is what you need to know:

  1. Divide German iris in August. This is the best time of year for it. Cut the leaves on an acute angle to prevent water from sitting on the cut portion of the leaf.  This helps reduce the chance of disease.  Spread the divisions around the sunny parts of your yard or give them away.
  2. Sow grass seed and lay sod. From Mid-August until early October – this is the best time of year to do this. Seed the thin spots in your lawn. Spread 3cm of lawn soil over the area, then the grass seed, rake smooth, step on the works to firm it in place and water well. Use the new “4 in 1” CIL Iron Plus with quality grass seed, iron and pelletized compost.  This amazing product can be applied to your lawn using a lawn spreader.
  3. If you are receiving some rain and night temperatures are cooling down, this is a great time to apply CIL Iron Plus lawn fertilizer, if you have not done it in 8 to 10 weeks.
  4. Remove the spent blossoms of July flowering perennials and roses, daylilies, delphiniums, early flowering hostas, veronica and the like. Many of these plants produce another set of blossoms when you cut it down this time of year.
  5. If you are in the habit of fertilizing your winter hardy shrubs and roses monthly, then right now is the last application that you will make for this year. Feeding later in the summer/early fall can promote growth that will not have time to harden off before winter.
  6. Hang out a hummingbird feeder: they are returning from the far north, will stop and forage in your garden for a few weeks as they accumulate fat under their wings for the long flight south this fall.
  7. Stake your dahlias. Without support, tall blooms can be damaged by wind and heavy rain.
  8. Harvest as your garden matures. With fruit bearing plants, the more you harvest, the more it will produce.

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What’s New With Ontario Flower Growers

Ontario Flower Growers

We are in the middle of the “dog days of summer”.  This means that there is an abundance of Ontario cut flowers available to you.  Two of the staples of summer cut flowers in Ontario are sunflowers and gladiolus.  Gladioli are such a favourite as they are nostalgic and come in a rainbow of colours.  Sunflower colours have also expanded from the traditional yellow, to butter yellow, red, red/yellow bicoloured, mauve, and the tinted red.  A product newcomer as a large volume producer to the Ontario market is Dahlias.  In the last Canada Blooms newsletter there was an article highlighting the care of dahlias.

We do have a number of commercial growers in Ontario that work very hard to produce beautiful flowers.

Most dahlia growers’ season starts in April.  In April growers are checking their stored tubers to be sure that only the healthy ones are planted.  Planting (and praying) start in late April/early May once the ground is dry enough and warm enough.  Care is taken to ensure that optimal growing conditions are met.

Cutting of flowers should start mid-July.  The season for cut dahlias will last as long as warm dry weather stays.  (Note:  October brides wanting dahlias should always have a “Plan B”)  Cool nights without frost really slow down growth.

Once frost hits in September / October growers must “lift” (dig out) the tubers they want to reuse the following year.  This is when the first grading of tubers happens.  The tubers are then put away for the winter in a cool (not cold), dry sleep until the following April when the cycle starts again.

If you are interested in meeting one of our premiere Ontario Growers, check out the August “Petals and Plates” (also a board member of Ontario Flower Growers).  To order tickets, or to find out more details (and see an awesome video of past events), go to

Book Nook: Garden Gratitude Journal

Gardener's Gratitude Journal

When you have a hit or miss in your garden where are you going to celebrate it? In the Three Year Garden Gratitude Journal: Part Diary, Part Personal Growing Guide by Donna Balzer and Chelsie Anderson (2018). This is an entertaining read from two expert gardeners. Author Niki Jabbour says “It’s a beautiful, practical and inspiring book.”

Outdoor Lifestyle Expert Carson Arthur says: “Love the concept! Journaling and gardening are both trends that Millennials are incorporating into their lives. What a wonderful way to link them together.”

Start writing anytime — this journal is designed for three years but undated so the best time to start writing is right now. Create you garden memoir by keeping records and daily nature notes all in one place. Jot down a line a day to record your highlights, your hits and your misses.

Every gardener and nature lover benefits from paying attention. This journal lets you track the impact of your garden choices over three years.

Gardener's Gratitude Journal

Gardener’s Gratitude Journal

Buy the journal online at: and get the fantastic bonus sheet of 63 stickers to record that bonus harvest or flower you love.

More Info:



Proven Winners Polka Dot Plant

The polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) ‘Hippo Rose’, produced by Proven Winners, is a bright and beautiful plant, with spotted leaves that stand out, especially next to other plants.  Foliage is the main reason to grow this plants and it has been found to be an easy-to-grow plant for both sunny and shady locations.

Sure to be a favourite at local nurseries and garden centres this season, the polka dot plants are well suited for indoor use and in temperate to warm zones they can be grown outside.

Growing Conditions:
Light: bright light is best, but when tested in the University of Guelph Trial beds it did well in shade as well. If you prefer more colour then consider some direct sunlight, which should deepen the colours.
Water: keep the soil moist in the summer growing season. If your plant flowers and then goes dormant, reduce water and resume when new growth starts.
Fertilizer: during the growing season, feed weekly with a weak liquid fertilizer that includes micronutrients.
Soil: A light, fast-draining potting soil is perfect.

The ‘Hippo Rose’ was grown and evaluated in the various 2017 trials. It was very popular with visitors who came out to see the trials and in a survey at the University of Guelph, where more than 300 participants were asked to select 3 plants from a group of 21 for use in a mixed container, ‘Hippo Rose’ was the favourite.

For more information on the ‘Hippo Rose’ Polka Dot plant visit your local garden centre.
Additional Reading visit:


Sunfinity Sunflowers

Make your garden come to life with Sunfinity Sunflowers that thrive and bloom continuously all season long. Sunfinity Sunflowers have lots of blooms that can be cut and used indoors, with no mess and without damaging the outdoor plant. The outdoor plant will continue to bloom long after traditional sunflowers have bloomed and died.

Nearly a decade of effort by Syngeta Flowers has led to the creation of Sunfinity, the sunflower that revolutionizes the home garden experience. Sunfinity started with a desire to give the home gardener a more colorful, longer-lasting sunflower. Traditional sunflowers are either small potted plants or cut flowers with only one stem, a single flower head, and blooms lasting for only 7–10 days. Sunfinity was cultivated to have many stems with a multitude of blooms and season-long performance, making it truly unique and different from every other sunflower.

In order to achieve these unique characteristics, we took the best attributes of two species and created what plant breeders call an interspecific hybrid.

Throughout the season, you can cut Sunfinity sunflower stems and bring them into your home to enjoy. They leave no messy pollen on your tables and will keep for 7 days or more in tap water.

University of Guelph’s Rodger Tschanz and his team are growing over 400 Sunfinity Sunflowers for Canada Blooms, come see them this March and then look for them in your local greenhouse and nursery centres this spring.

Canada Blooms Donates Flowers to Residents of Bendale Acres

Canada Blooms Donates Flowers

Canada Blooms and City of Toronto celebrate 11 years of donations.

At a March 20th celebration residents and staff of Bendale Acres joined celebrity gardener Ben Cullen to accept more than 600 plants donated by Canada Blooms and transported by Procter’s Cartage.

This is the 11th year that Canada Blooms has donated plants to a long-term care home owned and operated by the City of Toronto. It allows the many plants and flowers from the festival to continue to bring enjoyment to Torontonians.

Each of the 302 residents at Bendale Acres and seniors from the Adult Day Program and Brimley Acres Supportive Housing received a plant. Meals on Wheels volunteers from TransCare will also deliver plants to seniors in the neighbourhood.

“This is a wonderful annual event for all involved,” said Mayor John Tory. “This donation is a gift that keeps on giving and I thank Canada Blooms for their continued commitment to the City and its seniors.”

“I am so pleased that we have been able to carry on this tradition for over a decade,” said Terry Caddo, General Manager of Canada Blooms.”Receiving these plants and flowers delights the residents and clients in long-term care homes. It brings me great pleasure to witness the
positive effects of these donations.”

Decking the Halls with Plants of Jolly

Jill Jensen Botanicals

Ah the Holiday Season. Cool weather, warm fireplaces and time to decorate your home for the holidays! We all know the tried and true holiday plants (poinsettias, cyclamen and mistletoe just to name a few), but with a wide range of plants out there, lets look at some great alternatives that can be used year-round and dressed up or down depending on your style needs.

Agalonema ‘Osaka’ (top right)
Commonly referred to as a ‘Chinese Evergreen’, we chose this specific variety thanks to its beautiful creamy-white and green variegation. A beautiful tropical plant that thrives in low to medium light and easy to care for, dressing it up in a fun holiday container or a modern white or concrete planter can add the perfect touch to your home.

‘Blue Ellwoodii’ Cypress (bottom left)
Who wouldn’t want this cute green-blue conifer plant for the holidays? Dress it up in a minimalist concrete pot and you have a beautiful piece of the outdoors to enjoy inside during the cold months. These guys enjoy medium to bright light and require damp (but not wet!) soil. What’s not to love?

Anthurium ‘Flamingo Flower’ (centre)
A true tropical plant, Anthuriums love a bight, indirectly lit area. Great year round, they come in a variety of stunning colours such as red, coral and bright pink. With beautiful heart shaped leaves and blooms, they leave you with the impression of getting away from all the fluffy, wet white stuff on the ground and would be perfect as a hostess or teacher’s gift.

Selaginella Fern ‘Spikemoss Jori’  (bottom right)
Easy care? Check. Colour changing foliage? Check.  Not quite the same as the common “frosty fern” selaginella, ‘Jori’ is great as it offers beautiful green foliage that gets lighter and lighter as it cools. Perfect for the winter months when it starts to get a little chilly, these plants will start to lighten and turn white at the tips, giving it a cute snow kissed appearance.

Pteris ‘Silver Lace’ Fern (top left)
Delicate silver-green leaves are the standard for this fern. Great for a hostess gift or to keep for yourself, Pteris are good for low to medium light levels meaning they’re easy to place through out the home or office. Dress it up in a fancy pot and your décor options are endless!

With the holidays around the corner it’s easy to forget to care for your green friends in all the hustle and bustle. If you’re going away for a few days or longer it might be a good idea to water your plants before you leave, or consider doing a pebble tray. Instructions for these are abundant on the internet and a great option for plants need humidity as well.

Happy Holidays from the Jensen’s Team, and we look forward to seeing everyone at Canada Blooms in the new year!

— Article courtesy of the Jill Jensen Botaincal Team
Jill Jensen Team

For more information on tropical visit:
or visit Jill and her team at Canada Blooms 2018


Staging the Toronto Flower Show at Canada Blooms

Toronto Flower Show Set Up

Staging the Toronto Flower Show at Canada Blooms….Otherwise known as an Exercise in Madness

When do we begin planning for the next show? We start before the current show is even set up! By June of the prior year, we are in full swing – drawing up construction plans and nagging others for information so we can develop a floor plan.

Schedule writers from Horticulture and Design, Youth, Special Exhibits, Lighting consultants, and plant suppliers are but a few of the people with whom we interact, always staying in touch with Terry Caddo, General Manager of Canada Blooms, and diligently monitoring the budget throughout the whole process.

Once we receive the flower show schedule, we get together over the summer months to review the schedule for the upcoming show and to assess the sets that we have in inventory and how they can be best utilized. We collaborate on the layout of the show – changing the plan from the previous year – to enhance the displays of course, but also to entice the general public to walk through and marvel at the creativity and colours.

Firstly, we revisit the budget figures. With those in mind, and from a review of current inventory of sets, we commence designing new and replacing old sets and finding odd things like chandeliers or the Hula Hoops used in 2015 (which took a summer of many of us scouring stores). We are forever on the lookout for ideas and drive all over looking for props for use. This can take quite some time when we are looking for a specific type of item – and ones that will fit within our budget!

We work all summer to meet the deadline of September in order to have everything planned to allow the contractor/builder time to construct, paint, repair, or replace sets. The inventory is stored in a large warehouse at Landscape Ontario in Milton. In October, existing sets are pulled out to be inspected, repaired and painted with new colours. All the new construction begins.

In early March, everything that has been designated for us is transported to site. As always, there are a few glitches, but the team pulls together. We are usually on site for at least 5-6 days ahead of time before the wonderful designs, created by the members of the Garden Club of Toronto, International designers from around the world and local Horticultural Societies, are put in place. Keeping warm during this period is a challenge and sleep for us is a luxury!

However, when the Canada Blooms Festival is ready to open, we are delighted that we have this wonderful opportunity to be able to help pull the Toronto Flower Show together. In spite of the challenges, the end result is very rewarding.

Celia Roberts and Lil Taggart, Co-chairs, Staging for the TFS

Fall Weather is Perfect for Planting

Fall Garden Picture

Fall is a fabulous time to tackle landscaping tasks in your yard. In fact, some seasoned gardeners believe fall rivals spring when it comes to the number of gardening opportunities. Don’t put away that garden spade just yet — you’ve got some planting to do! Here is a list of tips to help you get the job done:

Plant more plants
Fall is a great time for planting because the soil temperature is perfect for root establishment. Perennials, vines, shrubs and trees can all be planted up to six weeks before the ground completely freezes. Be sure to keep new plantings watered until the ground is frozen. Fall is the time to plant spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and summer-blooming lilies. Tip: To avoid your treasures from being dug up by squirrels, cover the newly planted area with chicken wire, then cover with shredded leaves or mulch to cover any scent. It’s also a great time to visit your local garden centre to check out new arrivals especially for the fall planting season.

Decide and divide
When perennials begin to bloom less, clumps become too large or start dying out in the centre. If you want to increase the number of clumps or move them to another location, it’s time to decide and divide. Dig up the entire clump and use a sharp spade or heavy knife to cut it into smaller sections, just as you would cut up a pie. Replant the sections and water them well.

There are two prime times to divide perennials: Spring-flowering perennials are divided in the fall; summer-flowering and fall-flowering perennials are divided in spring. Some plants can be divided anytime. This splits up the task into two seasons and makes the job easier. Fall is the perfect time to expand the flowering times in your collection as most garden centres stock a wonderful selection of fall flowering plants.

To cut or not to cut?
Avoid shearing hedges and pruning deciduous trees in the fall. Pruning stimulates new growth which is best left for spring and summer, however any unruly shoots can be safely snipped. Cut back perennials that self-seed or have no winter interest, leaving six to eight inches of stubble to trap the snow and insulate the crown over winter. Perennials such as sedums and ornamental grasses are outstanding features in the winter garden and can be cut back in spring.

Leave the leaves
If you have a mulching mower, mulch fallen leaves right into your lawn, rather than raking. If you have too many leaves, run the mower over the leaves first, then rake them up and apply as organic matter to your garden or simply add to your compost bin. Shredded leaves break down into humus faster than non-shredded leaves. Humus helps to retain soil moisture and nutrients that plants then utilize.

Healthy harvest
Canning sun-ripened tomatoes and drying fresh herbs (such as parsley and oregano), can add wonderful aromas to your home and add home-made goodness to meals. Fresh herb aromas and a freshly baked fall apple pie just prior to an open house have been known to sell a home!

Be sure to keep within the guidelines of municipal water restrictions, yet keep your garden watered in the fall right until freeze-up as plants are still growing.

Urning for containers
Add some fall flair to your summer containers by switching up plants with flowering kale, ornamental cabbages or colourful, fall mums.

Seeding and sodding
September is the best time for turf establishment as the air temperatures are cooler and there are fewer germinating weed seeds. Applying a fall lawn fertilizer ensures the hardiness of grass before the harsh winter.

Bring the outside in
Before the first hard frost, dig up any tender bulbs and tubers, such as dahlias and cannas, and store them in a cool dark place for replanting next spring. Bring in any tropical plants from their patio location. Be sure to hose them down with insecticidal soap and water to ensure no travelling pests hitch a ride indoors for a cozy winter retreat.

Help from the pros
The fall gardening season truly is a busy time! If you simply don’t have the time or the energy to prepare your property for the coming seasons, why not hire a professional to do the work for you? For more tips and advice, or to connect with one of over 2,000 members of Landscape Ontario, visit:

From Denis Flangan, Landscape Ontario

About Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association
Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association is one of the most vibrant associations of its kind, comprised of over 2,000 members, ten sector groups and nine local chapters. Its trade mission is to promote the horticulture industry in Ontario, and its public mission is to promote the joys and benefits of green spaces.

Floral Design From Fluerishes by JuJu

Deisgn by JuJu

Spring time is always an exciting time of year, full of possibilities and potential: What flowers to plant in the garden? In what arrangement? And what colours? And, what theme should one choose? The latter is particularly fun, in keeping with the Canada Blooms 2018 theme of “Let’s Go To The Movies”!

So, for this festival, Floral Designer Justine De Bouvier, of Fleurishes by JuJu, thought to shake things up a bit and give Hollywood, and the visitors of the Canada Blooms Show, something to remember! Being a floral artist, Justine naturally selected Salvador Dalí’s, “Un Chien Andalou”, as her guiding design theme for this show! When there are no limits to the imagination, there will be no limits to the possibilities of floral design!

In designing her unexpected and stunning floral arrangements, Justine adheres to the following skeleton of principles, irrespective of whether it is for the garden or a container arrangement:

• Ensure the colours follow a harmonious colour scheme, such as, designing with a complementary colour scheme – that is, colours located directly opposite each other on the colour spectrum, as blue and yellow are

• Provide visual interest by varying the texture of the botanicals selected for the garden or container arrangement – contrasting textures create visual interest

• Play with space by varying the height of the flowers used in the garden or container arrangements – to move and carry the eye around the design

• Incorporate or use unexpected design elements or vessels

• Step back and look at the garden or container arrangement as a whole and, add or subtract anything that affects the overall harmonious flow of the arrangement.

Beyond these basic principles, anything is possible! Drop in to one of Justine’s demos at the show to learn how to apply these principles and elevate your botanical designs to a whole new level. Alternately, stop by our booth (number H349) to see, firsthand, our principles of botanical design. Hope to see you there!

~ Photo: A Floral Arrangement inspired by Dalí Atomicus, by Justine De Bouvier, of Fleurishes by JuJu

Rock Your Landscape with Maynooth Granite

Maynooth Granite Products

Increasingly homeowners are turning to river rock as part of their decorative landscaping. River rock has a number of practical uses, and once properly installed it requires the least amount of maintenance of any ground cover and is a permanent landscape solution.

Along the side of your home, draining your downspouts, bordering trees and gardens, or preventing erosion on sloped areas of your garden are a few of the more common uses. River rock resists runoff and the natural gaps between the rock provides a reservoir to allow precipitation to pool and return to the water table. It works as a heat shield during the day keeping the moisture in the soil for neighbouring plants and its many minerals provide nutrients to the soil.

River rock looks best when set among plants and mulches and a grouping of various sized colourful boulders can provide a natural year round focal point in your garden. Homeowners with small yards are replacing lawns with river rock and creating attractive gardens with no watering or cutting.

Here are a few tips if you are considering decorative rock:
• A flat area is ideal for any sized river rock from pea gravel to large rocks but larger 3-4″ rocks are best for sloped areas as they resist runoff.
• Remove dirt or soil 2-3″ below the border in the area where you wish to apply rock to allow room for the rock you will be adding and to ensure rocks don’t spill over the border.
• Always use landscape fabric. Really. You will definitely get weeds if you don’t. Also the topsoil will mix with the rock in time, they won’t look as nice and won’t drain as well.
• Granite river rock is recommended for ponds, water features and shoreline retention to promote healthy water by providing a surface for aerobic bacteria to form.
• Bury 20% of boulders in the ground making them seem as if they rolled in ages ago.
• Wind, rain and snow eventually removes the granite fines from the rocks to fully reveal the colours, texture, patterns and shine.

Canada Blooms is proud to announce the addition of Maynooth Granite as an official sponsor of the 2018 festival. In 2017, Maynooth Granite’s unique Algonquin granite river rock was prominently displayed in Genoscapes’ Secret Path Garden as well as other gardens with compelling results.

Maynooth Granite River Rock is sold at Sheridan Nurseries, select Home Hardware stores, Beaver Valley Stone and at 75 independent dealers across Ontario. The rock is screened and washed and available in sizes from pea gravel to giant boulders.

For more information visit:

Maynooth Granite Screening PlantMaynooth Granite Screening Plant

Maynooth Granite at Canada Blooms 2017

Daffodils: Harbingers of Spring

Tahiti Daffodil - The Gardener Magazine

By William Hrycan
Reprinted in part from the upcoming Fall 2017 edition of “The Gardener for Canadian Climates” magazine.

To me, daffodils are the sunniest, most upbeat spring flowering bulbs. Their nodding heads, with the trumpet-shaped cup surrounded by a ring of petals, seem particularly full of personality.

Daffodils are hardy, spring-blooming bulbs in the same family as amaryllis. Originally from the mountain meadows of southern Europe, they have been found in gardens all over Europe for centuries. Early North American pioneers brought daffodil bulbs with them to the New World to remind them of the gardens they left behind in Europe.

How to grow daffodils:
Plant daffodil bulbs as soon as you start seeing them in stores. This may be the end of August or early September in cooler areas, but much later in warmer areas. Daffodils need at least six weeks to root before the ground starts getting too cold. If you’ve missed this window, plant anyway (sometimes those half-price bags of bulbs at the grocery store in late October are just too hard to pass up). Your bulbs will do better in the ground than they will in storage for the winter. Just don’t hold out much hope for bulbs planted less than a few weeks before the frost starts staying in the ground.

Once planted, water-in well and don’t allow the bulbs to dry out—the bulbs prefer to be grown in moist locations. When buying daffodils, look for bulbs that are large, plump, firm and free of any signs of mold or rot.

Find a nice sunny spot, ideally one that collects lots of winter snow. I like to plant them near shrubs or behind other perennials. The daffodils will pop out of the ground early and bloom before other plants get in the way, but the foliage of nearby plants will help hide the daffodil leaves as they go dormant by mid summer.

Before planting, dig holes deep and incorporate lots of rich organic matter into soil. Plant the bulbs twice as deep as they are wide, approximately 10–15 cm (4–6 in.) to the bottom of the hole, with the pointed ends up. Space bulbs 10–15 cm (4–6 in.) apart, and plant in large groups to maximize their impact.

Daffodils don’t usually need splitting or dividing, but if you find the clumps are getting too crowded or you want to spread them around, dig up whole clumps as the foliage starts to turn yellow, carefully separate large bulbs from each other, and shake the soil off. Large bulbs connected at the base can be pulled apart and replanted, but leave smaller daughter bulbs attached to the larger mother bulb; they will separate on their own when they’re large enough.

Daffodils like moist, well drained soil. If you’re gardening in light, sandy soils, water well in the autumn as the bulbs are preparing for winter, and water during spring growth, blooming and for six weeks following blooming to keep the bulbs happy as they store energy. If you’re gardening in heavy clay, moisture may be less of a problem, but keeping soils well drained can be challenging. In either case, add plenty of organic matter to the soil to improve moisture conditions. When daffodils do not thrive, the most likely reason is soil moisture conditions. Waterlogged soil will cause bulbs to rot quickly, while dry soils will cause bulbs to whither and dry out. Both conditions are fatal, particularly to newly planted bulbs.

William Hrycan is horticultural editor for “The Gardener for Canadian Climates” magazine. A landscape architect, photographer, devoted dad and self-confessed gardening addict who gardens wherever and whenever he can. The Gardener magazine has published since 1995 and is regarded as the definitive horticultural magazine for in-depth information for our challenging Canadian growing zones.

 Gardener Magazine logo


Tropical Plant Care From Jill Jensen Botanicals

Tropical Plant from Jill Jensen Botanicals

From magazines to blogs, and Instagram posts in between, it’s hard not to notice how popular Fiddle Leaf Fig plants (Ficus lyrata) have become. But what happens when you’re in love with the design aesthetic of a plant but not sure how to care for it? Read below for some tips from everyone’s favourite plant expert here at Jill Jensen Botanicals, Randy.

Ficus lyrata are surprisingly easy to care for. Like most plants they enjoy a schedule, and benefit best from sticking to one. They do best in bright but filtered light (think a West or South facing window) and need to stay moist.

But what does “stay moist” actually mean? Well, throw away your measuring cups because these plants enjoy being watered well, meaning there is no sure way to water it each week. A good rule of thumb is to use your finger and place it down in the soil a few inches. Does the soil stick to your finger and leave you a bit dirty? Or, are you able to easily pull it out with little residue? If your answer is the first then you’re likely okay to wait a few more days before watering. However,if your answer is the second one, then perhaps its time to fill up a jug and give your plant baby some H20. Keep in mind it’s important that your plants have great drainage, and are not sitting in water.

What about consistent leaf drop? Are your leaves now soft and big brown patches appearing? Chances are this is due to over watering therefore your fiddle leaf figs needs a little less water and a little more time to dry out between waterings. Drooping leaves? Under watering may be the culprit here but careful not to suddenly give your plants a lot of water to make up for it — too much is just as bad as too little.


All plants may also go through a brief period of stress as they leave the beautiful (warm!) greenhouses they were once habituating to go into a home where the AC is on high, or the window has a draft in the winter. If it’s been a few weeks and your fiddle leaf fig doesn’t appear to be getting any happier then it may be time to re-evaluate its’ care schedule and placement. A great tip is to give your plants some fertilizer during the summer when they’re in their active growing stage. Look for a balanced houseplant fertilizer, such as a 20-20-20, and use every 4-6 weeks. Having the bottom leaves drop off during this time is completely normal as your plant is making room for new growth.

We’re consistently asked about transplanting plants but tropical plants, including those beautiful fiddle leaf figs, like to be a little pot bound. The best practice is to only plant into a new pot that is 1″-2″ larger than the current one. Alternatively, don’t be afraid to just place your ‘grower pot’ potted plant into a decorative pot instead. This way you can easily keep an eye on water levels and there is less stress to the plant as well. If you do need to transplant, stay away from your everyday gardening soil and purchase tropical plant soil from your local greenhouse instead. Spending a little extra money on soil could save you a lot of money on aspirin for the headaches you may have later on.

We invite you to follow us on Instagram @jilljensenbotanicals for pictures from the greenhouse!

Jill Jensen Team

Tulip Bulb Care (Removing From Flower Beds)


On November 7, 2016, 42 energetic students from grades 9 to 12 from St. Joan of Arc Catholic Secondary School came to the Canada Blooms/Landscape Ontario site at Milton to plant 6,650 spring bulbs generously donated by Van Hoff and Blokker, Tradewinds, Mark Cullen and Landscape Ontario members.

Now the beautiful tulips have bloomed and peaked, and we were wondering what to do with them (at least with the ones the squirrel left alone), so we reached out to Carolyn de Vries from Tradewinds International for some advice.

Here is what she suggested:

If you wish to remove the tulips from the flower beds for other plantings, yet you still wish to keep the bulbs, then you should:

1. Deadhead by cutting back stem to above first leaf
2. Lift the bulb, stem and leaves
3. Store in a dark place adding peat to ensure bulbs are kept dry
4. Planting time in the fall, clean up bulbs by removing dried foliage
5. Plant
6. Enjoy them in the spring

Tradewinds International

The Trendy Garden in 2017

Vegetables - Italy Magazine Photo

Over the summer the hard working talented Landscape Ontario members will be adding style to your neighbourhoods.

Certain colours come in vogue, and then fade back in with the crowd. Tastes in décor change as you grow older. Materials gain favour, and then become commonplace as the latest and greatest emerges the following season.

And while there are a faithful standbys — and in the world of gardening and landscaping, there are quite a few style elements that have proven to have significant staying power — these trends are not a bad thing. A little variety in your personal oasis is a good thing lest the look and feel of your garden becomes stale.

Part of the joy of gardening is seeing what others are doing: How are they using certain plants? What colours are prominent this year? Do I need to incorporate some non-plant elements like a statue or bench? Is fragrance important?

Then take those ideas that appeal to you, and work them into your own design. Allow yourself to be influenced and inspired

In getting ready for the 2017 planting season, there are several trends taking root this year that should be top of mind for your garden.

Water is vital to the health of your garden, but water features — ponds, fountains, waterfalls, pools — are incredibly popular right now. Almost all of the gardens that were in the showcase at Canada Blooms 2017 were built around some sort of water feature.

If you are planning an overhaul, or just starting a garden from scratch, work in a small pond. Not only does it add to the tranquility of your space, but it also attracts vital wildlife like butterflies, honeybees and birds. If your garden is well established, set a slow gurgling fountain amid the flowers.

Of course, Canada 150 is everywhere this year as our nation ramps up to celebrate its sesquicentennial and gardening is no exception.

Red and white flowers are all the rage, but in particular demand is the Canadian ShieldTM Rose. Named the Canada Blooms Plant of the Year, it is a Canadian-made rose — developed at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in the fertile Niagara Peninsula — crafted to thrive in Canada’s wildly diverse weather conditions. It is versatile landscape and garden rose with a one-metre spread, full red flowers and glossy green foliage. It is a repeat bloomer, ensuring it will stay in colour all season long.

The Canadian ShieldTM Rose is being marketed as a gardener’s dream, and it truly is. It has a visual appeal that will highlight any landscape project.

The Canada of today is much different than the largely agrarian society that became a Dominion in 1867. But as we become more urban, many green thumbs are heeding the call back to the land to grow their own food.

Vegetable and fruit gardens are allowing urbanites to bypass the produce aisle at the grocery store. Tomatoes are always a popular backyard garden item, but don’t overlook things like cucumbers, radishes, peppers, lettuce, kale, chard, carrots, peas … you can feed your family all summer from the bounty in your backyard.

We are also seeing increasing awareness about the ecological and societal importance of trees. Besides purifying the air and producing the oxygen we need to survive, they are beautiful elements in our neighbourhoods that provide vital shade where we can escape the blazing summer sun. Small- to medium-sized trees — those that will grow to about 20-feet high — are in demand at garden shops this spring, many of them producing beautiful blooms in the spring.

With the overall growing interest in gardening in general, we are seeing the backyard garden become more of an extension of the home. People want to spend more of their time outdoors, enjoying the fruits of the labour and the beautiful weather while they can. As part of the effort to extend the use of outside space, we are seeing garden sheds being repurposed as three-season living spaces. Furniture, lighting, perhaps a television and a mini-fridge, and where once you hung your spade is now an escape hatch steps from home.

The season is now upon us. Have a look around, get some inspiration, steal an idea or two and get planting. It is well worth the effort.

Denis Flangan, Landscape Ontario


Follow Landscape Ontario on Twitter @Green_for_Life and Like it on Facebook. For more information, please visit

Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association, one of the most vibrant associations of its kind, is comprised of over 2,000 member companies, ten sector groups and nine local chapters. Its trade mission is to promote the horticulture industry in Ontario, and its public mission, Green for Life, promotes the joys and benefits of plants and green spaces. Visit for more information.

Photo from Italy Magazine

Miniature Marvels: Singing the Praises of the Lowly Groundcover

MelanieRekolaMiniature Marvels

Story and Photos by Melanie Rekola for Our Home Magazine

Considering groundcovers are often in the forefront of garden beds everywhere, it seems little praise is given to these tough, tiny plants.

Groundcovers can add a whole new dimension of colour to your garden through their foliage, texture and abundant bloom. Many, with their trailing nature can soften hard stonework when tucked in crevices, or be encouraged to spill down the front of retained beds giving an “aged” feel. Groundcovers can also help retain slopes and discourage weed growth. Some are so strong that they can act as a lawn or path substitution. Read on to discover more.


Stonecrop (sedum) – There are so many lovely trailing varieties of the sedum family that I cannot pick just one! The fleshy, succulent leaves of this little plant often look like a flower. It comes in a variety of foliage and blooms colours, plus it’s drought tolerant and happy in lean soil. Bees and hummingbirds love them and the presence of pollinators is an important indicator of a healthy garden. Stonecrop favours sun but will tolerate partial shade. My favourites are:
Angelina (Sedum rupestre) – This spiky evergreen variety offers bright golden foliage and turns orange in fall, with yellow flowers in early summer.
Dragon’s Blood (Sedum spurium) – The well-loved stonecrop is a semi-evergreen specimen with rich reddish foliage and bright pink blooms in late summer.
Bronze Carpet (Sedum spurium) – This showy stonecrop sports brilliant bronze red semi-evergreen foliage with flattering pink flowers.
Miniature Stonecrop (Sedum requieni) – This miniature stonecrop is a tiny leafed evergreen sedum and is the only one that tolerates foot traffic. It forms a dense mat with tiny white flowers and is extremely hardy.

Creeping Phlox (Plox subulata) – Dense and low growing, this soft-looking plant is a prolific bloomer! It’s covered in small purple, pink, white or variegated flowers in spring, with short, stiff evergreen foliage. This low-maintenance perennial prefers sun/part sun and is accepting of lean soils.

Golden Scotch Moss (Sagina subulata) – Very dense and low growing, this mounding evergreen perennial, with tiny star-like white flowers in spring, boasts attractive chartreuse foliage. It tolerates foot traffic easily but its shallow root system requires steady watering to thrive. It prefers part shade.

Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum) – I like all varieties of this drought tolerant succulent. Their rosettes display dazzling progressive colour changes throughout the season. They favour full sun to bring out their rich colour. Sempervivums will bloom after the second or third year. An odd looking flower stalk will shoot up from the centre of the main rosette with a cluster of flowers. After the flower dies, gently twist off the stalk. The main rosette has put on new offsets that will fill in.

Cranesbill (Geranium Bloody) – Of the many variations of the Cranesbill family, my absolute favourite variety is Bloody, which, to me, is one of the best Cranesbill introductions ever. It bears handsome dark green foliage with happy, upright clusters of bright violet-purple, cup-shaped flowers. Bloom period begins in early summer and continues on throughout the garden season. It likes sun to part shade.

Creeping Jenny/Moneywort (Lysimachia nummularia or Golden Creeping Jenny) – Creeping Jenny is accused of being an aggressive perennial, however the Goldilocks variety is restrained in habit. It is ideal to combat soil erosion or on rock walls and tolerates lean soil. Preferring full sun to part shade, its yellow-green foliage makes a bright statement when paired with common greens typically found in the garden. The name “wort” suggests medicinal use; it was used by early English herbalists to heal superficial wounds of both man and serpents. It was also used for ulcers, scurvy, hemorrhages and ailments of the lungs.

Dianthus (Dianthus) – Dianthus range in colour from pink, to red, to white flowers with notched petals and finely textured leaves. Sweet Williams (Dianthus barbatus) are large and are biennial or short-lived perennials covered with bicolour flowe4rs in late spring. Pinks are low-growing, low-care dianthus suitable for rock gardens with happy open-faced flowers and attractive grey-green foliage. Dianthus prefers full sun and won’t stand wet soils.

Creeping Thyme Elfin or Minus (Thymus praecox Elfin or Minus) – This tiny gem has gorgeous miniature flowers and compact leaves. This is another “walk upon” plant and when trod on will let go its thymey scent – plus it’s edible! It favours full sun and tolerates lean soil.

A host of mature, entangled groundcovers an rival the beauty of a tapestry. But be careful to consider the aggressive habit of many and choose the right plant for the right environment. Groundcovers are not only at home n the applications mentioned – consider planting a “mini” garden in a planter or two. Children love this pint-sized forest idea, or dare I say living wall. Perhaps it’s just the thing to take a ho-hum exterior wall to a front-and-centre showpiece!

View original story and pictures at:

Rain gardens: Slow water is good water

Rain Garden Video Library

From Mark Cullen’s April Newsletter

Water is flowing though our landscapes faster than ever – paved surfaces prevent it from seeping into the earth, so water has no choice but to flower ever faster into our streams.
The results are flooding, erosion and pollution.

Good news: Every homeowner can make a difference! Rain gardens capture rainwater and allow it to filter down where it is needed, preventing serious problems.
Beyond that huge benefit, rain gardens are beautiful, and can even solve drainage headaches on your property.

Get inspired with a new, seven-part video library hosted by Mark Cullen:
How to build a rain garden 

Weeding Out The Garden Myths

Melanie Rekola Design

Story and Photos by Melanie Rekola, from Our Home Fall 2016


As a landscape designer and certified horticulturalist, I come across a lot of misconceptions when it comes to gardening.

Myth 1: Cedar trees attract mosquitoes
Reality: In nature, cedar grows in moist soil, which mosquitoes adore. It’s not actually the cedar that attracts them though mosquitoes are attracted to shaded environments of any type.

Myth 2: Garden lines have to be curvaceous
Reality: Some spaces don’t have the room to accommodate the serpentine lines loved by many. Sometimes straight lines just work better and can be equally striking.

Myth 3: Existing garden soil needs cultivation
Reality: Cultivation of the earth around existing perennials and shrubs breaks their vital hair roots, thus injuring the plant.

Myth 4: Gardens are a lot of work
Reality: Start gardens with a thick layer of good quality soil with additional bonemeal supplement. Spread a good layer of mulch yearly to retard weeds and keep moisture in. Do this and a garden will need little weeding and may never need fertilization or supplemental watering after establishment. How’s that for low maintenance.

Myth 5: Vegetable gardens are an eyesore
Reality: Veggie garden placement counts, Raised planter boxes add definition and look great flanking a path. Edibles such as leaf lettuce have lovely foliage and many food plants sport pretty blossoms. Am I the only one that finds beauty here? (article has picture of raised bed – see link below)

Myth 6: Containers are only for annuals
Reality: Many trees and shrubs can live in posts for years. They need less care and watering plus offer the bigger bang for your buck than a typical annual display. For example, a $20 Curly Willow shrub can survive for years in a large pot, has amazing form and makes a bold statement. Compare that with what you have to spend on annual displays over a three-year span.

Myth 7: Trees stop growing
Reality: Trees don’t reach a certain height then suddenly stop growing. Some trees do have shorter or slimmer habits that suit smaller spaces. Remember, if trees were planted for the height they reach in 50-100 years, few of us would plant them.

Myth 8: Bees sting unprovoked
Reality: Flowering plant materials are fine poolside choices. Just because you have more skin showing does not make your chances of being stung any greater, though flailing around wildly will increase the likelihood! Stay calm and learn to enjoy and respect bees.

Myth 9: Overwatering isn’t harmful
Reality: All new plantings require water to establish, yet overwatering quickly drowns plants. Stick your finger in the soil. If you feel moisture, don’t water. Plant roots require gaseous exchange for survival and need to dry out a bit between watering to accommodate this.

Myth 10: Vines are bad for intact brickwork and woodwork
Reality: Current studies show vines such as ivy act as a thermal blanket, warming up walls by 15 per cent in cold weather and offer a cooling effect in hot weather by 36 per cent. Plus they look gorgeous! But take care to keep vines out of windows and soffits.

Myth 11: Landscape designers are landscape architects or garden designers
Landscape designers approach design as a whole, including pool, patios and outdoor living spaces, trees and gardens, lighting and even outdoor furniture and accessories. Think of us as exterior designers.

View original story and pictures at:

Florist Serves Her Industry

Jennifer Harvey

Florist Serves Her Industry as Showman, Cheerleader, and Social Worker

Christy O’Farrell
Canadian Florist Magazine
May 1, 2016

Sixteen years into her career, Jennifer Harvey loves doing freelance event work one day, and on the next, either helping a shop customer choose just the right sympathy arrangement or demonstrating a technique to a crowd.That desire to enjoy and share all her job has to offer makes her an enthusiastic champion for the floral and horticultural industries.

Harvey, CFD, CAFA, divides her time between Jennifer Harvey Designs, which she started in 2012, and Gatto Flowers in Mississauga, Ontario, which she joined in 2015 as sales and design manager. Yet she still fits in opportunities to speak and teach floral design to expo audiences, children, women’s groups, and people with disabilities. Gatto Flowers, which has been in business for more than 30 years, is like a home base with a solid team that gives her the freedom to represent both herself and its brand, she said.

“I never wanted to be umbilical-corded to a bench,” unable to get out and see what others create, said Harvey, who also owns BeLeafs Home and Garden Care.

That wanderlust may stem from when Harvey was in high school, and thought she would go into theatre and dance, having been heavily involved in those worlds. Her dream was sidelined when she ripped a tendon at a dance competition. While recovering from reconstructive ankle surgery, she started studying in the floral design program at Algonquin College in Ottawa.

“I had to figure out another art path,” Harvey said. Though she expected, at the time, to return to performing arts and perhaps, one day, teach dance, she fell in love with floral design. “It changed my life and I never went back,” she said. Seeing her theatre friends struggle in their chosen profession also contributed to her decision.

Jennifer Harvey and crew Her floral design class attended Canada Blooms in 2001, where she discovered the “craziest designs” featuring motorcycles cascading with orchids, and others towering 20 feet. “I didn’t think anything like that was possible,” she said, because they were so unlike the majority of traditional vase arrangements found online.

Canada Blooms, an annual festival in Toronto that ran March 11-20 this year, promotes horticulture awareness, and includes the Toronto Flower Show, acres of fantasy garden displays, educational speakers and demonstrations, a plant and product showcase, and flower market. More than 200,000 visitors attest to the “huge number of Canadians with green thumbs,” the festival’s website says.

Over the next decade, Harvey learned the trade working in various flower shops in Brockville and Ottawa, Ontario, and Strathmore, Alberta; got married; and had a daughter, now 11, and a son, who is 9. When she returned to Canada Blooms on her own in 2011, she told Artistic Director Colomba Fuller: “I’ve got to be part of this.” She got her wish the following year, and took four months, working with a team, to create a well-received hot pink gown.

“I just wanted to blow them out of the water.” It was a great feeling taking her place among high-calibre professionals, she said, and it also become her entrée to begin freelancing with internationally renowned designers such as Preston Bailey. She has also helped design for the prime minister of Canada, the prince and princess of the Netherlands, Elton John, Hillary Clinton and others she can’t name because of confidentiality agreements.

Harvey was inducted into the Canadian Academy of Floral Art in 2014. Canadian Florist magazine chose her as one of our “Top 10 under 40” after the inaugural contest that same year. For this year’s Canada Blooms, Harvey designed a 30-foot by 15-foot arch covered in blooms, a booth, a mini garden, and funeral-themed floral display. She also participated in pick Ontario’s Floral Superstars’ bouquet battle, during which panelists design bouquets in 45 minutes and give them away to audience members.


Such stage shows give Harvey ways to integrate dance and theatre into her career, such as performing a few steps on stage to get the crowd moving. She believes all arts are interconnected. “If you have it in your blood, you just can’t get rid of it,” she said. “I don’t think I could go a day without dance. It’s part of my soul.”

“The theatre thing comes out when you’re doing event design,” she said. “You’re creating space and a whole different atmosphere for people.” Her actor’s intuition about how to portray emotions translates into helping customers choose appropriate sympathy arrangements, for example. “I love to see people express their emotions through my art.”

As much as Harvey loves the artistic side of the business, she also likes the scientific and mathematical aspects. She enjoys learning and applying botany and chemistry so that plants and flowers live longer, or studying the optimal margins for successful sales, or memorizing Latin to order flowers from growers in other countries. It’s much more than just knowing your colours, she said. “You have to learn how to take care of them, conditioning and light levels, water pH balances.”

Harvey thrives whether working on weddings that cost anywhere from $150 to $7 million, or showing her daughter’s class a Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day project. She recently recorded an episode to air in June for the second season of “Blind Sighted,” a television show hosted by Kelly MacDonald, a blind reporter with Accessible Media Inc. While previous episodes have found him learning to surf, trying indoor skydiving or interviewing actors, he took a stab at floral design with Harvey.

“It’s all about texture and scent” and communication when you can’t see, said Harvey, who has worked before with blind and deaf people and also with autistic students. It helps to show you have a sense of humour because people with disabilities too often encounter those who are uncomfortable with their differences, she said. “It’s not about perfection. It’s about the therapy that goes with it.”

For example, when Harvey worked with battered women, handling flowers was mostly about creating something beautiful at an ugly time in their lives. “I like to use this medium to do that for people,” she said. “I think everybody should do floral design.”

Keep Your Snow Thrower Winter Ready

Winter Ready with Troy-Bilt

As much as we try  to prepare our equipment to take on winter’s worst, some of us are left with  costly repairs and barely cleaned driveways as a result of misusing our snow  throwers. Keep your snow thrower winter ready by following these top 5 tips and  tricks.

#1:  Read your owner’s manual
You should  always read your owner’s manual before operating equipment. This will explain  how your snow thrower works, as well as help to resolve common equipment issues  like a clogged chute. In such instances, always shut off the engine and remain  behind the handles until all moving parts have stopped before unclogging. You  should never use your hands to clear a clogged chute assembly. Instead, use the  chute clean-out tool that is conveniently fastened to the rear of the auger  housing with a mounting clip. Troy-Bilt snow throwers even have polymer,  clog-resistant chutes to prevent clogs or backup in the chute.

#2:  Always use Treated Fuel
Stale fuel is  the number one cause of hard starting in small engines.  Today’s fuels break down rapidly, decreasing  their ability to ignite.  Use of fuel  that contains more that 10% ethanol, such as E15 (15% alcohol), is not  recommended. Leaving fuel in the fuel tank of your snow thrower will clog the  carburetor over time. To prevent this from happening, add fuel stabilizer or  treatment to every tank full of fresh gas.

#3:  Check Engine Oil Before Each Use
Always check  the oil level before each use on an even surface prior to operating your equipment.  Running the engine with insufficient oil can cause serious engine damage and  void the engine warranty. Do not overfill the engine as this will cause smoking  of the engine and a hard start.

#4:  Brush Off Any Snow, Slush or Salt When You Are Finished 
After each use, remove the excess snow and slush behind the augers before  it freezes. First, engage the augers for at least 30 seconds to ensure no snow  is trapped behind the fan. Then shut it off. Don’t forget to remove any excess salt  buildup to reduce the chance of your snow thrower rusting over time.

#5:  Emergency Spare Parts
There is  always a possibility that you will need a part during or right after a snow  storm, when you really need to use your equipment. To prepare for this type of  emergency situation, we recommend that you keep the following spare parts on  hand: ignition key, shear pins, drive belts, spark plug, oil, fresh (treated)  fuel, skid shoes, shave plate.  Please  consult the parts list in your Operators Manual for exact part numbers.

Troy-Bilt is  a proud to announce its sponsorship of Canada Blooms 2017. Don’t forget to visit our booth in the Garden Hall at this year’s festival.

Click here to find out more about Troy-Bilt

National Tree Day 2016

Tree Planting courtesy of Landscape Ontario

National Tree Day will serve as a celebration for all Canadians to appreciate the great benefits that trees provide us – clean air, wildlife habitat, reducing energy demand and connecting with nature.

On March 2, 2011 a private members motion to declare the Wednesday of National Forest Week, National Tree Day, received consent from the House of Commons. The motion was presented by Royal Galipeau, M.P., at the urging of Tree Canada.

When is National Tree Day?
September 21, 2016

Where will National Tree Day take place?
Wherever you live! National Tree Day is the celebration of trees and forests in your town, city, and in neighbourhoods across Canada. Check out the event listings or register your own event!

From: Landscape Ontario

Help Honey Nut Cheerios in its Mission to Plant 35 Million Wildflowers

Honey Nut Cheerios

Help Honey Nut Cheerios in its Mission to Plant 35 Million Wildflowers
Planting season is finally upon us, and Honey Nut Cheerios wants you make the most of it.
Earlier this year, Honey Nut Cheerios launched Bring Back the Bees, a campaign that aims to educate and engage Canadians on the issue of unstable bee populations and inspire them to join Honey Nut Cheerios in its mission to plant 35 million wildflowers to help bees thrive across the country.
In support of this mission, Honey Nut Cheerios has given away 115 million free wildflower seeds to Canadians across the country and is encouraging people to plant them. Wildflowers are an essential part of the natural habitat bees require to thrive and planting wildflowers is a way every member of
the family can work together to help bring back the bees.
Wildflower seeds are easy to plant and make the perfect addition to any garden, whether it’s nestled into a planter or expanding over an entire backyard. Supporting a healthy bee population not only helps our buzzing friends, but it helps us too. One in every three bites of food we eat is made possible by bees and other pollinators who spread the pollen that crops need to grow including apples, almonds, coffee, and of course, honey.
For more information, including planting tips, visit

Fulfilling the Dream of Farming


Just because you don’t have deep
pockets doesn’t mean you can’t get into agriculture. It’s a venture filled with both obstacles and opportunities.

By  Harrowsmith Magazine’s Maurice Crossfield

Harrowsmith Article by Maurice CrossfieldIt’s a challenge that has scared off many an aspiring farmer: How can a person embark on a career in food production without solid financial backing? Well, it turns out that some innovative souls are finding alternatives.

Across the country, small-scale operators are finding new ways to access land, equipment and markets, making the dream of working the land come alive. But beware: it typically involves a lot of hard work, know-how and some solid business savvy.

In one instance in southern Quebec, a group of five McGill University graduates banded together and leased five hectares (12 acres) in Les Cèdres, a municipality 60 km (37 miles) west of Montreal. Sharing their various skills, the group offers organic food, including garlic, and sells seed to other organic growers. Today, the Tourne-Sol Co-operative Farm (tournesol means “sunflower”) is one example among many that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

“All provinces have financing programs of some sort—Quebec probably more so than others—and there’s also Farm Credit Canada at the federal level,” says Hugh Maynard, former head of the Quebec Farmer’s Association, who now works as an agricultural communications consultant. “But [aspiring farmers] still require a realistic business plan, so anyone musing about farming should go out and get some experience and figure out what they want to do and put a plan together. Saying you’d ‘like to farm’ doesn’t get [you] too far anymore.”

In fact, armed with the all-important business plan, including projections, proof that they have some ability to repay their loans and some sort of collateral, many aspiring young farmers have contacted the FCC about financing their dream.

“Our Young Farmer Loans are one of our most popular products,” says Toby Frisk, director of the Lindsay district of the FCC in southern Ontario. “Since 2012, we’ve had to reallocate funds several times and have provided $2.4 billion to young farmers.

” But while the prospect of borrowing up to $500,000 through the Young Farmer Loan program might not be for everyone, Frisk says it’s not necessarily a reason to count out a future in agriculture.

“The world needs to eat, and by 2050 the world will need to produce 60 percent more food,” Frisk says. “Canadian agriculture is considered one of the safest food supplies in the world. It’s a real growth industry—there are opportunities in almost every sector.”

“The local-food movement (not just organic) is gaining momentum, and that does present opportunities for young people without a farm to get into the game,” says Maynard. “Agriculture in Canada is heading in two directions: large-volume commodity producers who maximize their margins by lowering costs because they have little control over price, and niche producers who target specialty products and markets and maximize margins by selling smaller volumes at higher prices or directly to consumers to capture a larger share of the food dollar.”

Maynard says niche marketing can be effective, but you have to do your homework. The demand must be there—at a price that is acceptable to both buyer and seller. ”

My neighbour produces organic popcorn,” explains Maynard. “They’re not successful just because they are producing organic popcorn, but because they’ve done their research, developed a business model, produced a quality and dependable supply of the product and learned how to market their own product.”

But armed with a well-thought-out action plan, there are alternatives. revealed that an increasing amount of empty farmland in the Brome-Missisquoi region of Quebec’s Eastern Townships. Some types of farming had been abandoned, while other farms had been bought by wealthy urbanites with little interest in commercial agriculture. In 2012, the Banque de terres agricoles, a land bank, was created, putting owners of unused land in contact with aspiring farmers seeking to grow anything from hay to garlic.

The service allows landowners and growers to set rental or lease rates, mentorship and possibly even partnerships between the producer and the landowner. A partnership between the county government (known in Quebec as the MRC), the province’s agriculture ministry and the Fédération de la relève agricole du Québec (which helps young people get into farming), the land bank project has proven so successful that it has been expanded to many other parts of the province.

Meanwhile, in the Gatineau region, Sean Butler and his wife, Geneviève LeGal-Leblanc, established Ferme et Forêt in a slightly different way: they asked friends and family to invest in the operation by buying a form of bonds that offered a small rate of return on the investment. They call it community-financed agriculture (CFA), a variation of the more familiar community-supported agriculture (CSA), in which folks pay upfront in the spring and receive weekly baskets of veggies as they come into season.

Urban communities are also getting into the act, in the form of co-operatives that support local food producers. In Hamilton, Ontario, the Mustard Seed co-operative cites local sourcing as its top priority.

“We have been working with more than 200 local producers, including farmers and producers of prepared, processed or manufactured foods (ice cream, milk, cheese, cereals, cleaning supplies—whatever can be local is local). We expect this number to grow,” says Mustard Seed co-founder Emma Cubitt. Those producers are supported by the co-op’s 2,100 members, as well as members of the general public who shop there.

Mustard Seed’s business model is paying off. “We have just passed $2 million in annual sales, which is pretty extraordinary for a two-year-old business organized by the community for the community,” says Cubitt.

She notes that some people are attempting to get into food production by trying to expand a hobby into a business. That can be anything from selling produce from a backyard garden to manufacturing a finished product, such as hot sauce or ice cream. The successful ones are driven by passion for what they do.

“We see young farmers wanting to grow as a personal response to environmental issues (GMOs, organic production and so on) or to have an agricultural living/working lifestyle,” she says.

Maynard cautions, however, that if it’s a vision of a bucolic lifestyle you’re after, you may be better off keeping your day job. Farming hours are long, and at times the work can be very hard. Plus, as any farmer will tell you, farming requires the use of many skill sets: as an operator, you’ll have to have a firm grasp of what you’re growing, as well as finances, marketing, building maintenance and any number of other tasks.

“If you go the niche-market route, do your homework first—remember, producing lavender for jam flavourings and potpourris is a limited market, and just because two or three are doing well doesn’t mean there’s enough room for four,” he explains. “And get some business skills, because you’ll need those as much as you’ll need the farming ones.”

Maynard also suggests that aspiring farmers not limit themselves to the organics market.

“Despite all the hype about going organic, it’s still a very small slice of the food pie,” explains Maynard. “Ted Zettel, an organic pioneer in the ’80s, once said that organic will never really be successful until it competes on the same basis as conventional foodstuffs. He wasn’t popular for that remark, but I think he was right—there are only so many people who will pay the premium for a more limited range of product. That being said, as conventional food prices rise, it will be interesting to see whether organics is considered more affordable. Also, there is evidence that as many people leave organic production as get into—it’s not easy and [it] requires superior production and management skills, so there is some indication that the number of certified-organic producers may have limits.”

But it certainly has its place, particularly for someone looking to get into making a living, or at least a sideline income, from food production. Cubitt cites one Mustard Seed supplier who practises small-plot intensive (SPIN) gardening. He has worked out deals to have 11 backyard plots in the Hamilton area. Paying rent to the property owners, he has managed to support his family of five while incurring no business-related debt, proving that sometimes by thinking outside the box, you can find somethiHarrowsmith Magazineng that works for you.

Subscribe to Harrowsmith’s Almanac and Harrowsmith’s Gardening Digest, and you’ll receive digital versions of these two issues FREE!
As an ADDED BONUS, THEY’LL INCLUDE 2 NEW DIGITAL MAGAZINES to your subscription for FREE! Harrowsmith’s My Kind of Town and Harrowsmith’s Homes.

What is a Rain Garden?

How A Rain Garden Works

What is a rain garden?
According to the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, each year in your yard there will be run off from rain and stormwater that will come from your roof, driveway and other hard surfaces. As the water moves toward the street (and sewer system) it can pick up a number of other substances (waste, salt, oils, etc) that can be harmful to water quality and aquatic habitat.
A rain garden is a much better use of the stormwater. A rain garden is a planted or stonecovered bed designed to receive stormwater and allow it to be slowly absorbed into the soil.
Rain gardens provide a good habitat for butterflies, birds and other wildlife and it requires little upkeep because it will contain native plants.
Parklane Landscapes has a great Rain Garden Calculator on their website that will help you determine the size of the rain garden you should create for your property.
For more information on creating a Rain Garden visit the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority website.

Picture from LSRCA website.

Show your loved ones how special they are this Valentine’s Day


Canada Blooms offers a new spin on an old favourite
Valentine’s Day is nearly here, and with it comes the pressure of giving your special someone the perfect gift that tells them what they mean to you.

While Valentine’s Day is one of the most romantic days of the year, it can also be the most stressful; but don’t worry – finding the perfect gift that says “I love you” can be as simple as selecting the right flower.

“Flowers have been part of the Valentine’s Day tradition for as long as anyone can remember,” says Terry Caddo, General Manager of Canada Blooms. “While everyone knows that long-stemmed red roses mean love, there are so many other varieties of flowers that will show your loved ones how much you care. They will appreciate the unique Valentine’s gift.”

With that in mind, Canada Blooms has created a list of Valentine’s flowers and what each flower says about you and your relationship.

Red Tulips:When most people think of tulips they think of spring, but red tulips are considered a declaration of love. Gift your sweetheart with a bouquet of red tulips to show your love this year.

Daffodils: Daffodils symbolize new beginnings. This is the perfect flower to give at the start of a new relationship or friendship.

Orchids: These rare blossoms symbolize love, beauty, strength and luxury. Gifting someone an exotic orchid lets them know that you are a bold person who likes to take chances.

Sunflowers: These flowers represent warmth, happiness and loyalty. While most people associate sunflowers with summertime, they are available all year round and are the perfect gift for that special person who lights up your day.

Gerbera Daisies: Symbolizing beauty, innocence and cheerfulness, gerbera daisies are a great gift for anyone, including mom. They also have beautiful large flowering heads and ability to last longer than other cut flowers.
Visitors to Canada Blooms can purchase the ‘Garvinea Sweet’ series of gerberas that was named Canada Blooms plant of the year.

“Valentine’s Day is a special day to show your loved ones how much they mean to you,” says Caddo. “By thinking outside the box and breaking from the ordinary, gifting them with flowers that have a special meaning will ensure they know that they are worth the extra effort.”

Canada Blooms will be held from March 11 to 20, 2016, at the Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place in Toronto. For more information or for tickets, please visit Follow Canada Blooms on Twitter @CanadaBlooms and Like it on Facebook.

#canadablooms #valentines #valentinesday #springflowers

Life Is A Celebration Worthy of Flowers

Toronto Flower Show International Exhibits

TORONTO, Ont. —Flowers are used to celebrate every occasion. Whether it is a birthday, wedding, or a special holiday, flowers show loved ones we care, and help celebrate life’s important milestones. During Canada Bloom’s 20th anniversary, the festival will showcase that ‘Life is a Celebration,’ and flowers are there every step of the way to help celebrate.

“Presented by The Garden Club of Toronto, the Flower Show will present another year of competitions amongst amateur floral designers and garden club members at Canada Blooms. The competitors enter  classes competing in horticulture, special exhibits, floral design and photography. International competitors from around the world have been invited to participate for the first 5 days. Artists in the garden will provide a new focus on floral painting. Arrangements  will be on display throughout the duration of the show providing guests with a colourful, bright and exciting look at how flowers can be used in a variety of ways.

“The arrangements produced by our florists during the show always go above and beyond our expectations,” says Terry Caddo, General Manager of Canada Blooms. “They really help give Canada Blooms a necessary surge of colour that helps drive away the winter blues.”

Also adding a pop of colour to Canada Blooms will be Bayview Flowers Floral Alley where six professional floral artists will showcase their take on the different ‘Seasons of Life.’  These floral artists include:

-Students from the Canadian Institute of Floral Design
-Opening Night Flowers
-Alma Florists
-LadyBug Florist
-Fresh Floral Creations
-Jennifer Harvey Designs

“Continuing with this year’s theme of ‘It’s a Party,’ floral artists will create designs focusing on the different ‘Seasons of Life,’” says Caddo. “Every season of life is a celebration, and that is what we are asking our professional designers to focus on.”

Awards for the Flower Show will be handed out on March 20, 2016, at 3:00 p.m. on the Canada Blooms main stage.

Canada Blooms will be held from March 11th to 20th, 2016, at the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place in Toronto. The schedule for the show is available at for anyone wishing to enter, as well as being found on the Garden Club of Toronto website.

For more information or for tickets, please visit Follow Canada Blooms on Twitter @CanadaBlooms and Like it on Facebook.

About Canada Blooms

Canada Blooms is an annual world-class festival that connects people to the joys and benefits of nature through experiences with gardens and flowers by promoting, educating, inspiring and celebrating all aspects of horticulture. Co-locating with the National Home show to create North America’s Largest Home and Garden event, Canada Blooms is a not-for-profit organization that gives back to the community throughout the year by funding community garden projects around Ontario, Canada Blooms is also dedicated to providing the community with horticulture expertise, education and resources on an ongoing basis.

Now in its 20th year, Canada Blooms was founded by Landscape Ontario and The Garden Club of Toronto. Each year it is supported by a committed group of partners, sponsors and volunteers.


We can now take Gerberas outdoors all season!

Garvinea Sweet Glow - Florist Holland

Canada Blooms is pleased to announce that it has chosen the ‘Garvinea Sweet’ series of gerberas as its 2016 plant of the year.
Gerberas, the longtime favourite houseplant and cut-flower for Canadians, are now available in the outdoors friendly ‘Garvinea Sweet’ series from Florist Holland, especially suited for outdoor use in both containers and the gardens.
Intensive plant breeding , interspecific hybridization and tissue culture propagation have combined to make the ‘Garvinea Sweets’ a reliable garden performer in the spring, summer and fall with increased disease tolerance, cold tolerance and an excellent rebloom habit.
Proven locally at the University of Guelph trial garden program during the 2014 and 2015 growing seasons, ‘Garvinea Sweets’ were grown in containers at 2 different sites as well as in 3 different ground bed sites under a wide range of watering and fertilizer regimes. As long as the soil was well- drained these plants thrived and bloomed continuously from planting time until winter arrived. As a fringe benefit, the flower stem length on the Garvinea is long enough to allow use as a cut flower in the home.
You can get a head start on buying these beautiful ‘Garvinea Sweets’ at Canada Blooms in March 2016. The following ‘Garvinea Sweet’ selections will be available for purchase at Canada Blooms: Sweet Glow(orange), Sweet Heart (pink), Sweet Honey (golden yellow), Sweet Smile (yellow), and Sweet Surprise (pink-violet).

Picture courtesy of Florist Holland: Garvinea Sweet Glow


Evergreen Wreath

November has come to an end and with that, the festive season is upon us. Many of us now to turn our thoughts to decorating our houses and even our businesses for the joyous season ahead. A very traditional and beautiful method of doing so is to adorn both the exterior and interior of our dwellings with freshly cut branches and boughs of evergreens. This practice originated in pre-Christian times as a way for the Pagans to mark the Winter Solstice and the increase in day light after the passing of the celebration. Winter, being bleak, dark and cold, often signified death. While almost everything in nature was seemingly dormant during this period, the evergreen plants stood out in stark contrast. As such, Pagans would cut evergreen trees and decorate them. Boughs of holly, laurel and other plants were also utilized in similar fashion. The observation that these plants remained green during the winter, was explained by them being in a sense, magical and symbolic of the return of life and rebirth in spring.

Today, that tradition continues in many cultures and there is a diversity of evergreens and non-evergreens from all over the world to choose and decorate with. Hailing from the northern hemisphere, we find red-stem dogwood and paper birch. While not evergreen, the brilliant red of the dogwood and the white of the birch illuminate any arrangement. The southern United States contributes with the beautiful broad evergreen leaves of southern magnolia, dark green and glossy on their upper surface with a most unique rust coloured and pubescent underside. Circumboreal in nature, the firs, particularly balsam, lend the traditional smell of a Christmas tree. Keeping in step with aromatic firs, are the gracefully arching and soft incense cedar boughs. The southern hemisphere gives us a couple of types of eucalyptus with varied shapes and the silvery cast they are known for. Of course, not to be forgotten and one of the first to be used, there is holly with the branches of female plants covered in bright red berries. This is just a small sample and one must visit their local garden centre or florist for many more. Why not also look towards one’s own garden for a few more boughs?

If the point of keeping these evergreens is to symbolize renewed life while beautifying our homes, then we must make it a priority to keep them green! Here are a few pointers that should help in keeping them looking better, longer.

Firstly, while not possible under all circumstances, try to keep the evergreens out of direct sunlight. Winter sun can be bright and combined with cold winter winds, will dry out the plant material and turn boughs into drab, brittle messes.

Use the ‘Stay Fresh’ type preservatives that are recommended for Christmas trees or the preservatives that come with fresh cut flowers. If you are keeping the greens in a container without water, prune the bottom of each stem or bough and then do a twenty-four hour treatment in a water/preservative mix prior to assembling your arrangement.

Mist your greens as often as possible. At the least, once a day misting with water from a spray bottle to the point that small water droplets form on the foliage. The sunnier and windier, the more frequently this should be done.

Use an anti-desiccant spray such as ‘Wilt-Pruf’. Here at Humber Nurseries LTD, we have had great success using this product on all our greens once they are unpacked and on display. The naturally derived coating minimizes further water loss. Such a spray may not be recommended on any plants with a glaucous or silver-blue colour, if that colour is to be maintained.

If lights are used in any arrangement, use LEDs over incandescent bulbs. Not only will you save energy, but incandescent bulbs put out more heat that will dry the plant material. Of course, when not being viewed, turn any lights off.

Lastly, use a floral foam to arrange the material in. Prior to assembly, soak the foam in water. Our chief decorator, Natalina, prefers wet sand above all, as it keeps the boughs and branches looking fresh and provides good weight to the urn or container, should your area experience high winds.

Most importantly, have fun and all the best over the holidays and for the year ahead!

Shawn Patille
Senior Horticulturist
Humber Nurseries Ltd.

Taking Care of Your Poinsettia

Picture of Poinsettia

In Canada, poinsettia are the most popular of all Christmas houseplants. Millions of poinsettia are purchased each year during the Christmas season by people who enjoy the colour and warmth they provide to the home. Proper selection will help to ensure a long lasting plant that you will enjoy throughout the Christmas and winter months.

With proper care, your poinsettia will last through the holiday season and right into late winter.

Pay close attention to the following tips:

  • Place in a room where there is bright natural light but not where the sun will shine directly on the plant.
  • Keep the plant away from locations where it will receive hot or cold draughts.
  • Place the plant high enough to be out of reach of unmonitored children and pets.
  • Set the plant in a water-proof container to protect your furniture.
  • Water the plant thoroughly when the soil surface is dry to the touch. Discard any excess water which remains in the saucer after 10 minutes.
  • The bright colour of the bracts will remain longer if temperatures do not exceed 22°C.

Reflowering your poinsettia
If you cannot bear to throw your poinsettia out when it is finished providing colour, you may want to try your hand at reflowering your poinsettia next year.

  • December            Full bloom. Water as needed.
  • April                       Colour fades. Keep near sunny window and fertilize when new
    growth appears. Cut back stems to about 20 cm.
  • June 1                   Repot if necessary. Fertilize with a balanced formula 20-20-20.
    Continue to water when dry to touch. Move outside if temperatures
    do not fall below 10°C. Place in light shade.
  • Late August       Take inside. Cut stems back, leaving three or four leaves per shoot.
    Sunny window. Water and fertilize as needed.
  • Sept 20 -Dec 1  Keep in light only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Put in dark (NO
    LIGHTS) 5 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Remember the key to success: Follow the strict light/dark instructions carefully.

— By Landscape Ontario:

Picture from