March 15, 2012
In the LO greenhouses in Milton, volunteer Don Voorhees cuts grass that will be used in LO’s Canada Blooms garden.
In the LO greenhouses in Milton, volunteer Don Voorhees cuts grass that will be used in LO’s Canada Blooms garden.
Since 1997, Landscape Ontario members have volunteered their time to support Canada Blooms, making it one of Toronto’s most successful events.

The volunteers have been involved in all aspects of the show, from sitting on the organizing committee, to building gardens, to take down. That dedication continues, and this year it was rewarded with the announcement that Canada Blooms is again one of the Top 10 Festival Destinations in North America. This is according to the Society of American Travel Writers that announced its list of the best spring festivals in the U.S. and Canada on Feb. 14.

Over the past three years, Landscape Ontario’s Green for Life garden has grown from 2,500 sq. ft. to 9,000 sq. ft.

“We learned that bigger isn’t always better,” says Canada Blooms garden build manager Paul Doornbos CLP, CLT. “Bigger and better gardens in the past few years taxed many members physically and mentally.”

This year’s Green for Life garden will cover 1,373 sq. ft. “One challenge facing this year’s team is creating an equally impactful garden as the large-scale creations of the past few years,” says Doornbos. Members of this year’s team include: design team, Paul Brydges, Mathew Hooker and Fred Post CLD; operation managers, Paul Doornbos and Brian Marsh; green roof detailing, Janet Ennamorato; water feature, James Thompson; plant acquisition, Regine Marsh; recognition area, Barry Hordyk; and takedown, Peter Vanderley CLP.

“The smaller garden requires us to work on the details of the garden,” says Paul Brydges. “We want consumers to walk through and relate that this garden is a little bit of home; leaving and thinking that this could be in my own backyard.

“I am thrilled with the design and build teams in terms of quality and dedication,” said Brydges. “I can’t stress enough, what a great team we have.”

Promoting turf

The Lawn Care Sector Group is working on a number of ideas to show the benefits of turf.

From signage to turf displays, the sector group is continuing its promotional campaign following the great success with the St. James Park renovation project in Toronto.

The group will explain how turfgrass reduces pollution, is nature’s air conditioner, controls soil erosion, reduces allergy-related problems and acts as a natural filter to help purify water.

The sector group will also have promotion items showing the great achievement experienced when hundreds of LO members restored St. James Park in December.

Not your parents’ roses

Another big promotion at this year’s LO feature garden is the job of educating consumers that roses have come a long way in terms of convenience and versatility.

A group of Landscape Ontario rose growers will create displays to show how today’s roses are easy to grow and have improved in performance.

“Today’s rose has become an incredibly versatile plant,” says John Bakker III, general manager of J. C. Bakker and Sons Nurseries of St. Catharines, one of the driving forces behind the rose promotion at Canada Blooms.

All the roses at Canada Blooms will be potted in three gallon pots. Some of the varieties include Apricot Drift, Peach Drift, Pink Drift 50 and Sunny Knock Out.

Bakker says, “Many people who have purchased roses in recent years still end up being disappointed. Doing a little research and looking into the roses will usually guarantee more than satisfactory results. The first thing to look for in a rose selection is whether or not the rose is suitable for your climatic conditions.”

To emphasize this fact, one of the speakers during Canada Blooms is Peter Schneider, author of Right Rose, Right Place, who will show gardeners attending Canada Blooms that when it comes to roses, it’s all about location, location, location.

John Bakker points out that many new hybrid teas, floribunda, grandiflora, and climber varieties will perform very well in the Toronto area and similar climates, if on a hardy multiflora rootstock. “The hardiest selections we have today are those that have come out of the Canadian rose breeding programs and are going to perform well in some of Canada’s coldest regions (down to zone 3 or colder),” he says.

Companies donating and growing roses for the Canada Blooms project include J. C. Bakker and Sons Nurseries, Pickering Nurseries, Palatine Nurseries, Pan American Nursery Products, Star Roses and Rosa Flora.

Ten-day show

This year’s show will open for ten days, compared to five in previous years, requiring a plant change mid-way through.

This is the first year that Blooms is co-locating with the National Home Show at the Direct Energy Centre. One ticket will admit guests to both events. LO members can order special bar-coded tickets for $12 (regular price is $20) to give to clients, staff, business associates and family. Tickets are available in packages of 20, and members will be invoiced at the conclusion of the show, only for the tickets that were redeemed. Ticket packages are available from Kathleen Pugliese at 1-800-265-5656, ext. 309, or