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GREENFILE: A flower show within a garden festival

The Garden Club of Toronto provides all the inspiration and horsepower for this multi-faceted section of the Canada Blooms flower show program.
The Garden Club of Toronto provides all the inspiration and horsepower for this multi-faceted section of the Canada Blooms flower show program. - Contributed

Canada Blooms runs until March 17. While the amazing feature gardens receive a lot of attention and praise, the Flower Show is equally amazing, for different reasons.

The Garden Club of Toronto, a volunteer organization that has been dedicated to promoting the benefits of horticulture for more than 75 years, provides all the inspiration and horsepower for this multi-faceted section of the festival program.

Amateurs only

Imagine, over 600 floral design and indoor plant entries. This is by far the biggest show of its’ kind in the country. All entries are made by amateur gardeners and many of them are grown on windowsills just like yours.

All entries are judged by trained, certified panelists with prizes awarded to winners in each of the five day displays plus a grand prize for the best entries over the ten-day life of the festival.

Global Floral Artists

Be sure to look for the outstanding floral designs in the “International” category. Competitors from India, Barbados, France, England, USA and of course Canada are on display down the main aisle of the festival. Once again, you may be distracted by the feature gardens and many other visual treats as you wonder down this aisle. Be sure to stop and observe the high standards of artistry and craftmanship in each of these 10 international floral arrangements.

This is the only international juried flower show of its kind in Canada. In the past, some of the Canadian winners of this competition have gone on to compete in the “Worlds”, and several have won gold.

New – Floral Artist of the Year.

This year, 20 flower arranging competitors, both amateurs and professionals, compete Friday, March 15th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the festival floor. This is a public competition for all visitors to see in an “imposed competition”, which is floral-code for “every competitor receives the exact same plant material to work with”. Certified judges will determine who will be the next Canada Blooms Floral Artist of the Year.

We think this sounds a lot like the makings of a new TV reality show, and you can be there in person.


Canada Blooms relies on volunteers to make it tick and the Floral Hall, Floral Walk and all the entries in the amateur floral categories are no exception. All are organized and planned by volunteers. 600 in all.

Think about that: 12 bus loads of unpaid people, dedicated to creating the most exciting and colourful display for us to enjoy.

Why do they do it? We are sure that the answer is different for each person that volunteers. However, we have no doubt that there is a common goal of creating beauty using what Mother Nature provides us.

That, and the opportunity to work together with myriad people from every walk of life and age group. Ben volunteers with the Design Committee, which is charged with the task of making each edition of Canada Blooms different and exciting. He reports, “It is incredible, the creative output I have witnessed from this team over the nine months leading up to the festival – original output by experienced horticulturalists.”

Canada Blooms is a festival, not a show.

Unlike other public events of this kind, Canada Blooms is a not-for-profit organization owned and managed by two not-for-profits: The Garden Club of Toronto and Landscape Ontario, our professional trade organization.

As you indulge yourself in the colour, fragrance and artistry of this amazing event be mindful that none of it would happen without the enthusiastic participation of volunteers. While they do what they do for the love of gardening, they also do it for us – the attendees.

It takes a lot of planning, talent and passion to pull off something this special.

Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author, broadcaster, tree advocate and Member of the Order of Canada. His son Ben is a fourth-generation urban gardener and graduate of University of Guelph and Dalhousie University in Halifax. Follow them at, @markcullengardening, on Facebook and bi-weekly on Global TV’s National Morning Show.

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