April 15, 2009
As one entered the 13th annual Canada Blooms at the Toronto Convention Centre, the vision presented left no doubt as to the influence of Landscape Ontario on Canada’s largest flower and garden festival.  

Held from Mar. 18 to 22, the festival also marked the launch of Landscape Ontario’s new branding initiative Green for Life and the new consumer website (www.landscapeontario.com). Throughout the show, banners, posters, brochures and LO staff sported the new, and quickly becoming well-known, logo.

The new logo was also found on display in the New Product Showcase, Skills Canada competition area, Communities in Bloom exhibit, Sod Growers Association display and LO members exhibiting in Marketplace. All LO member feature gardens also showed the Green for Life plaques, and the logo was displayed on the celebrity stage every day during seminars. The logo was also in front of everyone through numerous signs, videos, postcards, chapter signage.

As well, this year LO produced the show guide included with Garden Inspiration magazine. For the first time visitors to the show received the show guide free of charge.

A great deal of media such as TV, radio and print journalists were out in force. Front and centre was the main focus for LO, its feature garden that was created by Tim Kearney CLP and his company Garden Creations of Ottawa. To say the amazing garden received rave reviews would be an understatement. From the fantastic design and flower content, to the giant 40-foot oak tree, the garden definitely had a wow factor.  The garden’s theme covered the many community projects that LO chapters are involved in. Each of LO’s nine chapters had a poster displaying its community service projects.

“The crowning glory was to watch the crowds and lineups circle our booth for a chance to be in our special place. It was a place dedicated to all the volunteers in our wonderful association,” says Kearney. See Time Kearney’s perspective on page 20.

The oak tree was the first item of business on the floor, when the crew from PAO Horticultural brought in the giant for placement. It became the centrepiece of the garden. The tree was donated in the name of popular weatherman Dave Devall after he was honoured with an award on Mar. 20. During move-in a serious problem occurred with the quality of sand to construct the gardens.  The builders could not use the material that was supplied.  On a Saturday night Pat LaManna from Earthco opened his yards and supplied 300 tons of good sand to the show.

Six acres of garden

More than 80,000 visitors enjoyed six acres of feature gardens in full bloom, including over 100,000 square feet of green-thumb shopping, 200-plus hours of seminars, workshops and demonstrations, a special children’s garden and much more.

“Each year visitors from Canada and beyond enjoy the gardens, marketplace and educational features of Canada Blooms,” said Gerry Ginsberg, Canada Blooms general manager. “Again this year, all of the plant and building materials used to create the spectacular gardens of Canada Blooms were reused and recycled following the festival.” The plants and flowers were once again donated to the City of Toronto.

The City of Toronto received approximately 1,000 flowers and plants that went to a number of its long-term care homes so that seniors could also receive a fresh, colourful bloom to brighten their day and living environment.  

Flowering bulbs, trees and shrubs recovered from Canada Blooms will also be added to the outdoor garden at Cummer Lodge and Lakeshore Lodge, providing a safe, accessible, colourful outdoor space for residents, clients, their families and guests to enjoy.  In addition, approximately 75 perennial shrubs and trees from Canada Blooms will be maintained at Downsview Park until the weather warms up, and then planted in locations city-wide.

“This year’s proceeds from Canada Blooms will benefit the Toronto Botanical Garden’s children’s programs. These programs fill an essential role in educating and inspiring urban children about the value and beauty of our natural world,” says Ginsberg.

New partnerships

“This year we built new partnerships and added highlights such as the Canadian Cancer Society’s Connected Garden and the Grey Power Celebrity Stage,” adds Ginsberg. “Thanks to the tremendous support of our sponsors, dedicated staff and volunteers, we continue to be Canada’s largest garden and flower festival and look forward to an even bigger event next year.”

An added attraction at Canada Blooms this year was the new product showcase under the direction of Lorraine Pigeon-Ivanoff, Landscape Ontario’s assistant show manager. A number of companies and products were featured. Overall consumer response to the display gave positive hope to continuing a new product showcase next year.    

Pigeon-Ivanoff gave special thanks to Donna Armstrong, coordinator  and professor, Lindsay Darjes, technician, Helen Krispis, instructor, and the first year students of the Visual Merchandising Arts Program at Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. Contributions were also received from Manchester Products, CMC Wholesale and Charlie’s Garden Centre, with help from Norm Mills, The Gardenin’ Guy.

City TV’s Breakfast Television featured some of the new products on Wed., Mar. 18 during the Frankie Flowers segment. Featured were AWS sensor, Indoors and Out’s director chair and Gardena trimmers.

Canada Blooms has grown to become this nation’s premier garden show. The hard work by those involved in the great spring event ensures that status will hold true.

Caption: Landscape Ontario promotes chapters to the public at Canada Blooms