17 Mar 2011

Canada Blooms but kinda’ Fizzles!


I haven’t been in close to five years, and with a new venue I decided I’d participate on the annual pilgrimage with the local Hort society. It was nice to escape from the dreary, dirty snow that has coated Fergus for the past week or so, and escape to the ‘concrete jungle,’ also known as Toronto for the day. I spent a half hour last night compiling a list of plant materials that fingers crossed, I might just be able to find! [Past experiences reminded me that I shouldn’t hold out for a botanical Hero, but it was fun compiling the list nonetheless!]

DSC_0574 There was no end to the ‘blooming’ – with smashing displays of Tulips and Hyacinth at every turn. I’m still not convinced that the new venue [Direct Energy Centre] is the right one – it felt very warehouse-like which made it difficult to create the ambiance that in my mind such an even should encompass, and while they boasted more space, it felt rather barren and sporadic in some sections!

DSC_0582An abundance of gently splashing water was incorporated rather ingeniously into some of the displays. Included in this display was what at first appeared to be a giant water wheel sprouting green. Upon closer examination it turned out to be a way to grow vegetables! I would have taken a photo but the massive wattage bulb positioned in the centre of the wheel was next to impossible to photograph!

DSC_0578There were some impressive displays utilizing large, full sized trees which helped to create an illusion of what completed landscapes might look like. I enjoyed those that had a ‘natural’ ambiance – leaving the outdoors outdoors, and the indoors firmly locked behind glass! I abhor the ‘bringing the indoors out’ trend that we’ve been inundated with of late. My only response is ‘where the hell are the plants?’ Of course this seems to be the mantra of most true plant collectors! Alas, I digress!

DSC_0580  DSC_0584This simple, reserved display was presented by the Canadian Cancer Society with a mass of brilliant narcissus inter-planted amongst tall stone tablets. On the back wall are black and white photographs of people [family members] who have been effected by this horrific disease. The Japanese maple in the left corner was the perfect anchor to a heart wringing display. This was one of my favourite displays!

DSC_0586  On a more lighthearted note, the use of ‘little red wagons’ as portable gardens on wheels brought a smile to this gardener’s face. Who doesn’t remember pulling a similar wagon while delivering newspapers as a youngster!

DSC_0587DSC_0588 While not entirely fond of ‘floral displays’ there were a few that caught my eye: The variegated foliage was topped with coils of green!

DSC_0591I loved the textural and colour contrasts of this arrangement!

DSC_0590  Sadly, my biggest complaint was reserved for the lack of available plant material for sale. You can only look at so many lilies and orchids before they start to blur together! I did manage to find a delicious new Helleborus – Helleborus ‘HGC Spring Promise’ with smashing pink blush infused upright facing flowers atop handsome dark green foliage with ruby infused stems and petioles! Delicious!

DSC_0593I snagged myself another delightful Arisaema candidissimum, [the blushing demure beauty with the white and pink striped spathe!] two Meconopsis betonicifolia, and a replacement Roscoea cautleiodes ‘Kew Beauty’ [Sadly my Canada Blooms Wishlist contained close to 20 plants!] Organizers: Pay attention: There are more gardeners than myself who would be more than happy to part with their cold hard cash if an interesting selection of plant material was available for sale!

Here are a few others photos of displays and designs that piqued my interest:

DSC_0614 DSC_0613  DSC_0609DSC_0610 [Pardon the blurriness of some of the photos! The overhead lighting made it next to impossible to capture crisp shots!] Everyone was looking for the double flowering Edna O’Byrne introduction Helleborus x hybridus ‘Winter Jewel Series’ Golden Lotus, as seen in what was my favourite garden, – and sadly they all left disappointed! A small fortune could have been made from this one plant alone!

DSC_0601DSC_0606 DSC_0634 DSC_0639  DSC_0622 Another personal favourite garden!

DSC_0625 DSC_0624 Aside of the few missing elements [more plants damn it!] it did provide me with a wonderful escape from the rainy, dreary snow and slushy March that 2011 has presented gardeners with. Any sign of green, even a thimble filled with moss is enough to fill this gardener’s heart with joy!


Barry Parker said...

Hi Barry,

I wish I'd known you were in Toronto, I live a 10 min walk from the EX, you could have come by for a coffee.

I went to the Philadelphia Flower Show last week, it was a much bigger show( and a bigger budget too, I'm sure) and very theatrical with a much more exciting use of lighting. However the most interesting section was the show by plant enthusiasts. There were some extraordinary plants, both rare and unusual as well as usual suspect grown with great skill.

It seems the biggest complaint that these shows the lack of "horticultural interest".
Sadly these shows are in the hands of "landscape professionals" and architects who rarely have much knowledge of horticulture.
However I thought that this year there did seem to be a greater diversity of plant material and less overwhelming hardscape.

I am organizing a Hellebore event this year April 2 - 3 which I hope will include some of the O'Byrne hybrids. I'll forward the details to you as well as post it on my site.

Barbarapc said...

Teza, so much fun to see that we photographed many of the same things. I'm going back today and tomorrow to hear some of the speakers & for a luncheon. Did just a cursory runaround of the marketplace - where were the plant vendors? I bought one little houseplant that looks like a cross between a bleeding heart and kalanchoe & a whack of tulips. But in this weakened condition of grey skys and mucky ground, better known as Canadian March Madness I would have bought much more.

Marguerite said...

I had a similar experience last year at our local garden show. Very very few actual plants for sale and zero seeds for sale. I left completely baffled.

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

Barry, I'm glad you went and I'm even more glad your assessment is pretty much as mine was, 5-6 years ago (I forget what year I went, but it left me curiously flat). I don't like landscape 'professionals who think a floor full of granny smith apples, a disco ball and green and white gauze curtains constitutes something that most people will recreate in their gardens. Nor a bed in the middle of a water feature. Whimsical, maybe, good for a giggle but inspiring? Not so much.

It may be that the people at Blooms don't have much to sell yet because it's so early in the season--it would mean firing up expensive boilers and or bringing in a lot of plants early from warmer climes, and then what to do with them til real spring comes? (the year I went, it was frigid--frigid! in late March in Toronto). But this is a complaint with a lot of so-called garden shows--too many trinkets and whimsies, not enough plants.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm glad you found a few of the plants you've been looking for, Barry. Nice shots! Love the red gate. I have a similar, albeit unpainted one.

CanadianGardenJoy said...

Pats .. your assesment is perfect (I did love those exhibits you enjoyed too ! those trees were amazing .. I have a weak spot for a display that seems natural and REAL!) .. I think for the most part much of any exhibit is LANDSCAPING orientated and not so much with offering plants for plant nuts like us ?
BUT ... I loved seeing these pictures, it gave me a "feel" for how is went over and it's atmosphere .. so once again I can exhal at not missing a stupendous event ? wink wink .. and look at those babies you brought back with you : ) BIG smile !
Eddie .. jealous nod ;-)