It's time for Canada to Bloom

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Gardeners are going to go wild next Friday, March 14. For 10 days Canada Blooms, the venerable festival of all things green and colourful, will kick off with the theme "Wild" at the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place, Toronto.

Canada blooms

This years' edition of the largest flower and garden festival in Canada [and the second largest on the continent] provides a useful reminder that we work with the powers of the natural world around us to create continuous beauty and recreation in our yards.

A Checklist for Getting the Most out of Canada Blooms.

Check out the gardens. There are 21 feature gardens this year and every one of them is worthy of your attention. The copywriters for Canada Blooms put it this way, "They [the feature garden contractors] will create stunning showcases with vibrant colours, alluring fragrances, and captivating designs to overtake your senses."

This reminds me of the group of visitors from Moncton, New Brunswick, who come to the festival each year for the first four days of the event. I bump into them each year; in fact, it is hard to miss them as they giggle and cajole in a good-natured way up and down the aisles. Each year I ask them what they find to do at Canada Blooms for four days and they always reply that the feature gardens are #1 on their list. Have a peek and they will be #1 on yours too. Guaranteed.

Toronto Flower Show

This elaborate display of floral design, horticultural arrangements, and masses of cut flowers has a pedigree that reaches back over 50 years. The Garden Club of Toronto is responsible for the co-ordination and design of the Flower Show and they deserve a tremendous vote of recognition for their efforts. An ‘amateur' show of blooms? To beat the band, I would say.

Expand your mind. Take in the many opportunities to learn more about the natural world around you and how you can harness it. Check out ‘The Wild Soil Inhabitants' with Astrid Muschella; ‘Creative Containers' with everybody's favourite Paul Zammit; ‘Go Wild with Backyard Habitat' with Pat de Valence; ‘Dancing with Wildflowers' with my friend Miriam Goldberger [who has a new book out to the same effect]; ‘Attracting Hummingbirds to your Garden' with Claudette Sims; and ‘Helping Trees Recover After the Ice Storm' with Cathy Kozma.

This is a small sampling of the more than 200 hours of education/entertainment that is offered on the Unilock Main Stage, in the Garden Solutions Theatre, and on the Learning Stage. Bring a notebook. Denis Flanagan and I open the main stage on Fri, Sat, Mon and Wed.

Take a tour. For a nominal extra charge you are invited to take a guided tour of the Canada Blooms landscape with a trained tour guide. Many days [but not all] during the event there are morning tours. There is a VIP evening tour planned for March 19. Register in advance at Suffice it to say that a guided tour is well worth the money and time invested for two very good reasons: first, you will avoid the crowds, for the most part, and secondly, details will be revealed to you that you would otherwise miss. Tours are the best possible way to enjoy the festival in depth. Simple as that.

Add them up: bring a camera: there is so much to see that your head will be swimming with images when you are done. Wear flat-soled shoes. You will walk your gardening socks off. Bring your credit card if you like shopping for the latest gardening goodies: supplies, tools, plants, books... you name it. For some people the #1 reason for coming to this show is the shopping marketplace.

I might add that there are more opportunities to eat while at the Direct Energy Centre than ever before. You can sit down in the restaurant at Heritage Court or grab some pizza and everything in-between.

Voted one of Ontario's Top 100 events by Festivals and Events Ontario and one of North America's Top 100 Events by the American Bus association, it's hard to say no to at least checking it out. It is interesting that Canada Blooms is a not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to the promotion of the benefits of gardening in our great land. This is why over 2,000 of us show up willingly just to do our bit and shout to the world that we love this hobby, vocation and past time.

Kudos, for the 18th year in a row, to the Garden Club of Toronto and Landscape Ontario, the Horticultural Trades Association for putting together what is sure to be another winner of a festival. I urge you to go, to bring your friends and family. Miss it and you will have missed a wild time.

Details at

Mark Cullen appears on Canada AM every Wednesday morning at 8:40. He is spokesperson for Home Hardware Lawn and Garden. Sign up for his free monthly newsletter at



Organizations: Canada Blooms, Garden Club, Creative Containers Garden Solutions Theatre Direct Energy Centre American Bus association Horticultural Trades Association

Geographic location: Canada, Moncton, New Brunswick Toronto Ontario North America

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