Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Canada Blooms, Regaining The WOW.

Kathy and I have just returned from our annual trip to Canada Blooms in Toronto at the Direct Energy Centre #canadablooms
We attend our regional meeting of the Garden Writers Association and of course visit Canada Blooms.
During the mingle part of our meeting and lunch Terry Caddo new General Manager was taking the time to speak to individual garden writers about some changes this year at Canada Blooms.
During his brief address to the crowd he echoed some of our thoughts. Primary was  the need to rekindle the WOW factor  that Canada Blooms had originally.
The location has been changed within the Direct Energy Centre to allow the garden creators more  control over lighting and weight of materials.
The previous location on the main floor with the Home Show has high bright ceilings and is over the parking garage. This has meant high lighting and low garden hard-scaping weight.
The new location has lower dark ceiling and just mother earth under the floor. Now the lower and more directed lighting levels and huge heavy rocks give the show a more cool outdoors atmosphere with rocks and trees in abundance.
The big thing still lacking for those of us from Muskoka where we still have three feet of snow covering our gardens was the abundance of flowers that we long for at this time of year. But two big steps forward (or back to the  early days) in regaining the WOW factor of Canada Blooms.
A big thank you to the huge team of companies, managers, directors and of the army of volunteers who make Canada Blooms happen. From early morning tours to selling fund raising delicious ice cream bars the show would not go on with out volunteers.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Garden Seating

After the hard work is done in the garden, don't forget to sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Hopefully you have planned for several seating areas in amongst your shrubs and flowers to enjoy, the sun, the shade  and the views.
Through the years we have enjoyed a variety of chairs and benches. Living in Muskoka the standard is of course the classic Muskoka chair, or Aidrondack, if you are from the USA. The low slung seat with the wide arms encourages prolonged relaxing  in the garden with drink and book or tablet at hand.

Many years ago we made a full set of willow or twig furniture. Over the course of  a few workshops we created a chair, chaise lounge, love seat and a side table. Once we bought cushins for the chair we found that we sat a little high. Learning from that first experience we built our love seat a few inches lower to allow correct sitting height with the comfortable cushin.
We did such a good job on the love seat that it was stolen, cushins and all from our Victorian veranda one summers evening. Next summer we decided to make a style change and sold the remaining twig furniture at a yard sale and moved on to the new resin material "wicker" furniture which suited well our century home  but offered long term durability.

For us, the classic garden seating has to be the English style teak bench.  After many vacations in England,visiting gardens this has to be the perfect garden bench. Who better then the English to create a stylish durable bench for enjoying your garden year round. Teak is known for its natural weather resistence, changing over the years to a soft silver colour. As a woodworker I know that the high natural oil content, its tensile strength and tight grain make it an ideal material for outdoor furniture.
Grown in tropical climates around the world it is important that furniture builders buy only teak  from managed forests. Look for FSC, Forest Stewardship Council certification when you buy any teak or other tropcial wood product. Visit www.fsc.org to learn the sustainable environmental standards imposed on the industry to obtain an FSC approval.
With the internet at your finger tips, the world is your shopping market. One source of FSC teak benches and other garden products can be found at www.hayesgardenworld.co.uk
They offer a good selection of quality products including the classic teak garden bench. The five foot model seems an ideal size  and teak will offer years of service in all climates. For some reason my computer won't let me attach a picture of the teak bench at present but where is a link to the picture of the five foot teak model.
For those bargain shooper with foresight to next garden season, winter is a good time to look for gardenshopping on a budget and Hayes Garden World is no exception at offering sales in the winter. When I looked mid January there were loads of bargains to buy.
Happy shopping and gardening.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

We have just come back from Loblaw's annual media launch of the 2012 gardening Insider's Report.
Loblaw's garden guru, Peter Cantley introduces the many partners that bring all those great plants to your local garden centre at any of the Loblaw family of stores.
They gather a selection of garden communicators into a room at the Toronto Botanical gardens. Peter and the Canadain growers entice us with  the newest flowers and plants headed for the local gardens centres in early May.
In a world of big corporations, I am always amazed to see how many of the plant growers are family run, second and sometimes third  generation enterprises. They have long time partnerships with Loblaw and maintain a personal relationship with them in a big corporation world.
Sharing the common goal to produce a wide selection of the best and the beautiful, Loblaw stores and Canadian growers work hard to keep gardeners planting and growing  colourful and unique gardens.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tues June 7, 2011

We started Tuesday with a visit to an innovative Italian nursery. Again a multi generation family firm, Groupa Zelari, have grown a farm nursery company to become a group of three companies offering total plant production, landscape design and construction of innovative and ecologically sound landscape projects. As Italy is a little behind Canada in ecological awareness in the landscape world, Groupa Zelari are leading the field in Italy with large national and international projects.

Our lunch was at a spectacular location on the peak on Monsummano Alto, the remains of a medieval village. It is home now to a modern restaurant and B&B, a few crumbling cottages and one elderly lady. Our lunch was wonderful with Tuscan cured meats, cheeses and fresh pasta. Following lunch Pauline, one of our tour members, broke the language barrier with the sometimes garrulous elderly lady and shared our admiration of her garden (and cats). As we came out from lunch many smiles were shared and photos taken. As she blew kisses to our parting bus, we knew that these few spontaneous moments would be one of the highlights.

For the afternoon we visited Pescia where a nursery of ornamental (and sometimes edible) citrus trees welcomes us. The sizes, shapes, colours and tastes of a wide variety of lemons far exceed the single variety we see in the store.

Our last stop was the village of Collodi, birthplace of Carlo Lorenzini Italian author best known for his wood to flesh creation, Pinocchio. First we toured the somewhat sad and decaying gardens of Villa Garzoni. We can picture the once grand spectacular of the sculptures, water features and plants of this garden now in need of much love and restoration. Nearby is the private villa visited once or twice a year by its wealthy owners.

pictures to follow

Just above the villa is the jewel of Collodi, in my mind, the village itself. We had only a short time to visit a few of the narrow picturesque streets tumbled one on top of each other as the narrow pedestrian lanes are more staircases climbing the steep hill connecting house upon house built up the hillside in a steep narrow reach.

Monday June 6 Pistoia:Roses and Religion

We are off on our first day of touring to nearby Pistoia. The area in the fertile plain surrounded by hills is full of plant nurseries. Our first stop is the fifth generation of rose growers, the Vivaio Barni rose nursery. Roses are serious business here as we see the intense work and research involved in bringing new colours and scents of roses to our gardens.
One to the historic centre of Pistoria we meet our local tour guide for a walk around the town square

Visiting the cathedral in the Piazza del Duomo, we are amazed by the detailed silver alter, hand decorated with detailed images of the life of Christ. Following that the sixteenth century tapestry, Arazzo del 1000 Fiori. As the name suggests a tour full of gardeners were in awe of the many flowers, birds and animals so vividly portrayed on what once would have been used as a rug.
following lunch in Pistoia, we visited a topiary nursery and then back to our hotel in Montecatini Terme. Dinner was up the funicular at a restaurant in the piazza. coming back down at night the lights below were beautiul.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tuscany Vacation

We have been in Italy just over 24 hours and are getting settled.
After landing Sunday at 2pm we were picked up by an expensive driver to get to our hotel about a half hour drive away in Montecatini Terme. Once checked in, we went walking downtown for the rest of the day. We made it home to the hotel before the thunderstorm hit.
Sunday morning dawned sunny and I headed out at 6:30 am for a walk. This is the view out our window.
I came back for 7:30 with coffee from the dining room. After Kathy started with her coffee in bed, we went down to buffet breakfast before heading out for the day.
We walked through the park to the funicular for a vintage cable car train ride up the hill to the town on the hill, Montecatini Alta. Many pictures and walking later we had a picnic lunch on a bench overlooking the valley. We walked down the hiking trail which was better than walking up.
About 45 minutes later we were back at the hotel for a swim and nap poolside.
Sunday afternoon and evening two more thunderstorms rolled through.
Our tour starts tomorrow.

Monday, May 30, 2011