Monday, 28 May 2012

Discover "Through the Garden Gate"

by Margaret Bennet-Alder

Who ever would have thought that there could be a 3 1/2 acre private garden in the heart of Toronto? Well there is one and it's on table land, unlike so many large Toronto gardens on ravines. You can see this garden, wander around it, marvel at its beauty and think about the upkeep required. You can do all this on the Toronto Botanical Garden's 25th Anniversary Tour, Through the Garden Gate. 

Twenty-one resplendent gardens are yours  to visit and explore in Rosedale on Saturday, June 9 and on Sunday June 10 from 11 to 4pm. 

Six are in the south in the Cluny Drive area, an easy walk from each other, the Rosedale Subway and the Tour Headquarters at Rosedale Junior Public School. Free shuttle buses can pick you up at the subway, stop along the way and also take you north over the bridge to the 16 gardens on the Glen Road Route.

Buy your ticket early at With your wristband you can get the Garden Guide with centrefold map and full description of each garden. Guides are now available at the TBG shop and by 10am on tour days at the Tour Headquarters. They give you a heads-up of where the gardens are, so you won't be overwhelmed on the day of the tour as you try to get your bearings and decide where to go, let alone know what to look for in each garden. Or you may decide to just go with the flow.

A garden on the "Through the Garden Gate" tour

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Everything is Blooming at Loblaws

by Margaret Bennet-Alder

If you didn't get your heart's desire at our May plant sale, consider the ones in Loblaws as of Friday, May 11.  Garden writers previewed these at Loblaws' media lunch at the TBG in early May. While awaiting our meal Peter Cantley, Loblaws' gardening guru of 28 years, introduced us to their 2012 pristine plants. Although sourced from around the world, all are acclimatised by Canadian growers and made ready for our May temperatures. After the meal we were invited to take some home to trial.

PC Tropicals Hibiscus Tricolour

Do you love tropicals?  How about three plants growing together with intertwining trunks: mandevilla, gardenia, and hibiscus! Only at Loblaws. I saw one of my favourite garden writers carrying out this tall plant for his indoor winter garden.

Haskap Berries

Would you like shrubs bearing fruit earlier than strawberries and with more antioxidants than blueberries? Consider the hardy Haskap berry, a cross between blueberry, a raspberry and a Saskatoon berry.  Buy two Shrubs to ensure cross-pollination.  They need full sun, so I'll have to plant mine on my city-owned! sunny boulevard.  These very hardy 1-2 meter plants will bear fruit next year.

PC Gigantico Wasabi Coleus

Other plants that caught my fancy, but that I didn't necessarily bring home: Wasabi Green Coleus, a lovely chartreuse.
PC Super Gigantico Calliope Geranium

Calliope, a big red geranium. It tries to set seed, but can't. Ever hopeful it produces big red blooms all summer.

Kwik Combos Burgundy Blues

The Lanai Verbena, Twister Pink, is part of a Kwik Kombo exclusive to Loblaws. The two-toned pink and white flowers combined with burgundy petunias and blue lobelia, all in one ball, are a quick-to-make eye-catching window box or planter.

Dahlia Dahlinova Hypnotica Cotton Candy

Dahlia Dahlinova Hypnotica Cotton Candy, is an abundant big bloomer with purply mauve petals outside and a hint of yellow inside.

Honey Bee Petunia

If your taste tends toward orange and even black, check out these dazzlers featuring the New Honey Bee Petunia:

Bee Happy Confetti Garden

Solar-Powered Illuminated Planter

These were my favourite containers and solar-powered, but I wasn't quick enough to take one home. Darn! Lovely in the evening, they can be filled with ice and bottled drinks. Choose a white glow or seven alternating colours for pizzaz. I guess if I really want one, I'll just have to buy it at Loblaws but first where will I put it?

Our own Dorothea Thompson will be giving horticultural advice for Loblaws on Saturdays and Sundays during May and June at their Bayview and Moore supermarket.  In this capacity she is one of the longest-serving members of an OHA society. For her horticultural expertise, North Toronto and the OHA each receive $50 from Loblaws; likewise for other participating OHA societies.

For more of their well-chosen and cared for plants, many unique to Loblaws, see their colourful PC Lawn & Garden Insider's Report, available until June 8; plants until early July. All in all Loblaws is showcasing more than 50 different plants, as well as soils, fertilizers, and containers, with their banner store garden centres having the most choice.

Go early in the season for the best choice and late in the season for the best price.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Garden Bang for Your Buck: May Meeting

Kate Seaver
The May meeting was a lesson in how to get real garden bang for your buck, and in more ways than one.

First, our guest speaker Kate Seaver showed members how to turn $30 worth of grocery store flowers into five different arrangements. She also shared some great advice on how to make your flowers last longer. You can start by getting the freshest flowers possible. Did you know, for example, that most flowers in the GTA are shipped on Wednesdays? If you need fresh flowers, you'll get the freshest selection on a Thursday.

Before you begin designing your arrangement be sure to condition your flowers. This will make them last even longer. Here are a few of Kate's conditioning tips:

#1. Get your flowers into lukewarm water right away. Don't leave them on the kitchen counter. For every 15 minutes out of water, you will lose a day of flower life. Let your flowers drink.  Lukewarm water is best for oxygenating the flower head.

#2. Get rid of excess foliage. Foliage robs the flower of nutrients. Make sure no foliage sits below the water line in your vase. Foliage in water decays rapidly creating bacteria that will shorten the life span of your blooms.

#3. Give every stem a slanted cut. This helps each stem absorb more water. If you can, cut your stems under water.  This reduces the chance of air bubbles. Be sure to reserve a special set of shears just for this job and keep them clean.  Again, this reduces the risk of introducing bacteria that can shorten the life of a bloom.  

#4. Use floral food. Floral food is essentially a mix of bleach and sugar.  The bleach keeps the water clean.  The sugar feeds the flower.

#5. Change the water and floral food and re-cut stems on an angle every two days to extend the life of your blooms.

Thanks to Kate for her excellent advice and her most enjoyable presentation.  If you'd like to learn more, be sure to visit the Kate's Garden website for information on workshops.

An inside-out arrangement by Kate Seaver

After the presentation, it was time for our much-anticipated North Toronto Horticultural Society Annual Plant and Garage Sale.  This event is always an excellent opportunity to get great plant selections at great prices. Several fern-leaf peonies were snapped up at the bargain price of just $20.  They sell for double that at some larger garden centres.  

Members check out the wide selection of plants
Rocky Mei is all smiles over his new plants

The Plant and Garage Sale is our biggest fundraiser of the year.  Proceeds help the North Toronto Horticultural Society cover costs including space rentals and speaker fees.  Thank you to everyone who donated a plant or garage sale item and to everyone who came out to the sale.  A special thank you as well to the Plant & Garage Sale team who organized such a successful event.  Both our speaker and our sale helped members stretch their garden dollar just a little further.

Coming up on June 12, 2012:  Conquering Your Container Conundrums with guest speaker Margot Parker followed by the June Flower Show, one of the biggest and best of the year.  Check back soon for more details of this exciting night.

Until then, happy gardening.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

May Meeting: Annual Plant and Garage Sale

There are always lots of great selections at our Annual Plant Sale

Pssst! Have you heard the word? There are going to be some rare and unusual selections at the Annual North Toronto Horticultural Society Plant and Garage Sale. Several fern leaf peonies will be available including a double. Plus, there is always an excellent selection of tried-and-true plants waiting to find a new home in your garden.  Are you excited yet? 

Getting involved is easy. Bring your divided perennials, seedlings, cuttings and garage sale items to the May 8th meeting before 7:30pm. Bring plants in individual containers. Label each with the plant’s common and botanical name (if possible). Attach a colour picture if you can. This helps members understand what they will be getting. North Toronto’s Plant Sale volunteers will take care of the pricing.  The sale kicks off right after a flower-arranging demo by our speaker Kate Seaver.  Act fast: sought-after plants disappear in the blink of an eye.

This event is our club’s biggest fundraiser of the year.  Show your support by donating a plant or garage sale item or taking home a garden treasure.  See you in May.    

North Toronto Horticultural Society
 May Meeting
Tuesday May 8, 2012
Annual Plant & Garage Sale
Flower Arranging Demonstration: 
Play with Fresh Flowers
Speaker:  Kate Seaver
 Toronto Botanical Garden
777 Lawrence Ave East (at Leslie)

Everyone Welcome!