We certainly feel like we have been on a roller coaster this year.
Last year about this time we were finalizing the number of gardens to be built, discussing the entrance display to be created by Bloemen Decor, the overhead installation in the Garden Hall being designed by Jennifer Harvey, as well as planning the second Canada Blooms Floral Artist of the Year Competition. The Toronto Flower Show had sent out their requests for interested International competitors, the schedule booklet had been finished and we were all moving along as planned.
Skip forward to the first week of March and we were full on for the set up, gardens, flower show and competition, floral alley, everything looked so bright and colourful, it really was an oasis after a long winter. We started to hear rumblings, the city and province were on the news daily in the last couple of days leading up to our opening. Then came the very hard decision, we didn't have all the details, but we knew that there was no way we could put our exhibitors, builders, volunteers, staff or attendees in a situation that might harm them.
It was so disappointing, we were set up, except for a few final touches which would have been done over night, for the opening that never happened. We made the best of a bad situation, we still had the judging of the gardens, floral alley and the flower show and competition. Then came the fun of taking it all apart. Normally this would last 4-5 days, but with being limited to the number of people in the building and also number of people working together in one space, taking the gardens apart became a slow process. Not to mention the garden builders had scheduled there equipment for the expected move-out date a week later and many companies were suddenly on reduced staff so rescheduling became quite a feat. What should have been a few days became weeks, but we all agree that the health and safety of everyone involved was our top priority.
We went back to our offices feeling extremely deflated. Here was a wonderful party we had planned and no one got to attend, they only got to see it second hand through video and pictures. We took a moment to complain, (even cry a little), reflect, and then thought about our next festival -- our 25th. We allowed ourselves to take a little pride in the fact that we have been around for a quarter century, and then started planning our celebration, all the while knowing that if the pandemic did not get better we would have to make another tough decision come September/October about whether an in-person event could take place in March.
So here we are. We have had, in the last few weeks, some promising news about a possible vaccine which might be available in the Spring. But right now, we have to determine what will happen with our 2021 Festival. Sadly a couple of weeks ago, our Executive Director, Terry Caddo made the decision, "I am heartbroken, after having to cancel 2020, that we are unable to have an in-person event in 2021."
Currently, Canada Blooms has been exploring other options in place of the in-person event, and we will keep you up-to-date via our newsletter and social media once we have any plans finalized.
We thank each and everyone for your support of Canada Blooms and hope to see everyone at our 2022 festival. We miss you, and can hardly wait until we can all be together in person. Until then, please stay safe.
Photo: David Ohashi, Garden: Terraform Contracting
Toronto Flower Show Happenings
Potting your Amaryllis (Hippeastrum)
Amaryllis is a tender bulb and does not need a cooling period before forcing it to bloom. It should not be exposed to frost.
Bare Root Amaryllis Bulbs do best planted in heavy clay pots that are only about one inch larger in diameter than the bulb. Plant the bulb with a well drained organic soil mix. Ensure that 1/3 of the bulb is visible above the surface of the soil and that 2/3 of the bulb is buried. Firm the soil well and water sparingly. Place the pot in a warm bright 15- 18 C room out of direct sunlight. Water sparingly until the flower bud and stalk appear. This usually takes two weeks to a month. Once growth begins, water as often as necessary to keep the soil slightly moist to the touch. Because an Amaryllis produces so much plant you may find that it needs watering almost every day once it flowers. Stake the plant discretely if needed or if you need to move the plant to another location. The flowers will bloom for about three weeks.
It takes up to one month for the bulb to sprout, followed by ripening period and approximately three weeks of blooming. Total time from potting to blooms is about 2 months. This timeline is shorter if the bulb is already starting to sprout before you pot it. You can also try to encourage faster or slower growth by moving the plant to warmer sunnier areas or cooler shadier areas.
Reblooming your Amaryllis
Once your Amaryllis has finished blooming cut the flower stalk to about 2 inches above the bulb leaving the leaves. Let the leaves grow as they are needed to replenish the bulb so it can bloom again next year. Place in a sunny spot. Water lightly and fertilize with All Purpose Plant Food every 2- 3 weeks until September. You can leave the plant outdoors for the summer once the threat of frost is past. In September, cut back the foliage and store in a cool dark spot for about 10 weeks. In early to mid November repot the bulb in fresh soil and place in a warm light room and start watering lightly for Christmas Blooms.
~ Judy Lewis
Tips From The Pros
In Favour Of Real (Trees)
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. (continue reading)
Winterizing Your Garden
Gardening is an exercise of continuous investment: plant now, enjoy later. It is a logic that gardeners understand well, but often lose sight of toward the end of the gardening season. This is misguided, as Canadian gardeners would know that winter is the most challenging time of year in the yard.
Right now the timing is perfect to make one last investment in your garden for the season: winterizing. Come spring, the rewards will be tremendous if you follow these steps.
Plant spring-flowering bulbs
Spring-flowering bulbs are the ultimate testament to this ethos of thinking ahead—we only see their bright colours to herald spring if we think to plant them in the fall. It is probably too late to plant daffodils and narcissus, as they require about six weeks of frost-free soil to put roots down before the winter. However, tulips, crocuses and hyacinths will perform well, provided the soil isn’t too frozen to get them in the ground. An added benefit: Many retailers have discounted what is remaining of their bulb inventory to make way for Christmas merchandise—a perfect opportunity to load up.
Cedars and junipers like being cozy, so wrap them with two layers of burlap to avoid brown foliage by spring. The first layer protects against wind damage; the other protects against snow and salt. The yew’s wrap is supported by 5 by 5 cm (two by two inch) stakes that are hammered into the ground, which also help prevent breakage from snow or ice load. Roses such as hybrid-tea, grandiflora and floribunda also like to be cozy,so mound 60 to 80 cm (24 to 31 inches) of clean soil or triple mix over the base of each plant. Only prune if they are so high that they risk blowing over in high winds; otherwise, wait until spring so you can assess the winter damage and prune accordingly. If you have a mounding, miniature or shrub rose, you are off the hook for mounding.
Send those on your list a subscription to Harrowsmith magazine, a magazine with a vision of providing a purely Canadian take on country living, the environment, and the sharing of useful information for country dwellers -- as well as city folk and anyone seeking to tread a little more lightly upon the earth.
In October 2020, the 26th Edition of the Communities in Bloom National Symposium & Awards Ceremonies were held virtually, Celebrating Healthy Communities in Full Bloom across Canada.
We congratulate this year’s winners and all of the communities that participated in provincial and national editions. Their efforts towards creating and enhancing green spaces in their communities, as well as educating the public on the value of protecting the environment is so important, especially during these challenging times. Thank you for making your communities better places to live, work and play.
Communities in Bloom is a volunteer & partnership-driven organization that uses a multi-tiered competitive evaluation process to foster community strength, involvement and continuous improvement. This is accomplished by nurturing environmental sustainability, enhancements of green spaces, and heritage conservation, in cultural and natural environments encompassing municipal, residential, commercial and institutional spaces.
Take A Look At the 2020 National Winners
Holiday Decorating Ideas
Looking for some holiday decorating ideas?
1. Skate Wreath instead of the traditional round wreath (GH)
2. Small space? How about decorating bows instead of a full tree (GH)
3. No need for a traditional tree when you have a stack of books handy (HB)
4. Make your own table runner with bright fruit and greenery (HB)
5. Fill galvanized buckets with pine bows and twinkle lights (HB)
6. Accessorize a twig (GH)
7. A row of trees in decorative containers adds pleasant greenery (GH)
8. Add red or white roses to a square vase filled with cranberries (HB)
9. Turn garland into an advent calendar (HB)
10. Add different Christmas flowers like the Christmas rose (not a rose, but a hellebore) (HB)
11. Add some berries and greenery to vases of water and top with floating candles (HB)
12. Create a pinecone and cranberry garland, bleach the pinecones for a different look (HB)
13. Potted plants can give the room a festive look (GH)
14. Wrap your tree with a floral garland (HB)
15. Use your mismatched mittens for decoration (GH)
16. Add colourful fruit to your garland (HB)
♦ 3 cups mixed nuts such as almonds, pecans,
peanuts, cashews and hazelnuts
♦ 1 tsp kosher salt
1. Open tea bags and remove leaves; set aside. Heat sugar and water in a 12-inch (30 cm) skillet set over medium heat. Cook, stirring and swirling pan occasionally for 3 to 5 minutes or until sugar melts and mixture boils.
2. Add nuts, tea and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or nuts are well coated and pan is completely dry.
3. Spoon onto baking sheet lined with parchment. Cool completely.
This recipe is perfect for holiday and hostess gifts.
Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Landscape Ontario is sharing stories of frontline heroes who have gone above and beyond to support their community during the Covid-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, Landscape Ontario invited members of the public to nominate frontline workers for an opportunity to win a Garden Makeover, finalists had a chance to win the grand prize $25,000 garden makeover or one of nine valued at $5,000.
This week, LO spotlights the inspiring story of Lisa Fernandes.
Fernandes is a Personal Support Worker (PSW) at Caressant Care Mary Bucke in St. Thomas, Ont., — a place she calls her second home. To Fernandes, her colleagues and residents are family.
Fernandes says Covid-19 flipped their world upside down, but it also brought her, her colleagues and residents closer together than ever before. Read her story online.
THANK YOU TO ALL FRONTLINE WORKERS!
Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign Update
The Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign is in the homestretch! They are within $500,000 of the $10 million multi-year fundraising goal.
For the past two years, a private Canadian benefactor has matched the donations received from donors around the country during our end of year fundraising drive. And each year, this generous benefactor wishes to remain anonymous. Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign is truly thankful for this gift, the impact of which continues to inspire new and returning supporters each year.
With your help and the help of matching funds, the finish line can be crossed, hitting their target before midnight on New Year's Eve. Let's make this the best year yet!
This is your last chance to be a part of this historic campaign. We know that 2020 has been an unpredictable year. Your support, in whatever form it takes, continues to be a source of inspiration to everyone at the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign.
Celebrate all year long with the Highway of Heroes 2021 Wall Calendar.
For a limited time, they are available for $50 or free with donations over $150. The mailing cut off for the holidays is December 10th and can be sent directly to gift recipients, and best of all shipping is free. Find out more at hohtribute.ca/gift-giving.
Looking for the perfect gift for those who love veggie gardening all year round? Niki Jabbour's new book is coming out in December.
Growing Under Cover
Techniques for a More Productive, Weather-Resistant, Pest-Free Garden
Increasingly unpredictable weather patterns and pest infestations are challenging today’s vegetable gardeners. But best-selling author Niki Jabbour has a solution: Growing Under Cover. In this in-depth guide, Jabbour shows how to use row covers, shade cloth, low tunnels, cold frames, hoophouses, and other protective structures to create controlled growing spaces for vegetables to thrive. Photographed in her own super-productive garden, Jabbour highlights the many benefits of using protective covers to plant earlier, eliminate pests, and harvest a healthier, heartier bounty year round. With enthusiasm, inventive techniques, and proven, firsthand knowledge, this book provides invaluable advice from a popular and widely respected gardening authority.
Also check out Niki's other books Year Round Veggie Gardener and Veggie Garden Re-Mix. Visit the Savvy Gardening website for these and more books, as well as tons of gardening advice.
A Blast From the Past
A couple of months ago, when our newsletter went out, we noted that 2021 would have been our 25th festival. Noel Banavage reached out to me to say that he remembered performing at the City of Barrie's display at Canada Blooms 2003. The City was celebrating their sesquicentennial and the group fit in perfectly with the theme “A Symphony of Gardens”.
We love to hear from people who have been involved with Canada Blooms throughout the years.
Noel is a retired Purchasing Agent for the City of Barrie, and he was able to get a couple of musicians together for our event. Noel played the saxophone, Ian Thurston played the guitar and Alexandra Beard played the Harp.
Noel is pursuing his Music Degree at York University. He and Ian are still performing in Simcoe County, although with COVID restrictions, performing has been significantly reduced.
The 2003 Canada Blooms looked like it was quite an event, and I am sure the music was fantastic. Thanks Noel for the pictures and the memories.
We invite you to take a virtual tour of Canada Blooms 2015, shot via drone.
The New Canadian Garden Book
Escape To Reality Book
In The New Canadian Garden, Canada’s gardening guru, Mark Cullen (A Greener Thumb), explores new trends, horticultural innovations, and the creativity that has been tapped by a generation of younger gardeners. He chronicles the significant changes that are redefining today’s gardening experiences, including the boom of online information on gardening, which can be very practical, but also drives a growing need for a focus on understanding, technique, and the local gardening experience.
“Escape to Reality, how the world is changing gardening and gardening is changing the world” is about fresh, healthy food, clean air, pollinators, native plants, the benefits of the horticultural social-exchange that occurs every time a gardener sets foot in the dirt. It is also about the need to fail, the surprising places where inspiration can spring from and it is about hope.