Fun for gardeners at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

NatureFresh greenhouse

I’ve gone to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair every November since 1994, but it has only been the past few years I’ve noticed all the gardening and agricultural displays. I’ve always focussed on the horses, occasionally noticing the dogs, cows and other creatures, but my interests have expanded recently, and now I search out the vegetable competitions and displays devoted to … [Read more...]

Urban beehives plus pollinator gardens makes tasty honey

brushing off bees

It’s no secret or surprise to gardeners that pollinators are essential to our gardens and, more importantly, to our food supply. One hopes more people, including non-gardeners, are learning this, too. Although we may know why healthy bee colonies are important, what can we do to help make bees happy? What’s the role of urban bee colonies? And just where, exactly, does honey … [Read more...]

A tour of Tree and Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm

wonderberries

On a hot, sticky day last week I found myself in Wainfleet, a small township in the Niagara region of Ontario. We all know that delicious things come out of Niagara, and I took the opportunity to visit Tree and Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm, the home of a huge vegetable garden (not to mention a wonderful pig named Joey). I've grown tomato seedlings from Tree and Twig for the … [Read more...]

Beautiful gardens on Applewood Garden Tour

deck with planters

The recent Applewood Garden Tour in Mississauga, Ont., included the garden of Liz Primeau, a regular contributor to Garden Making and the author of several gardening books, as well as the gardens of two artists, which showed great creativity and artistic touches. Here are some of my favourite vignettes from these three … [Read more...]

Lessons from the veggie garden

potted veggies

It’s time for an update on my first ever vegetable bed. I held off on posting an update and taking new photos of my cinder block raised bed because back in June, it didn’t look very exciting with just small seedlings in there. It needed to be more lush before it was ready for sharing! I must have missed the one day when it looked full but tidy, because it’s no longer a garden — … [Read more...]

Tips for flower arrangements from your garden

delphinium arrangement

“Pink and white carnations — one desires so much more than that.” As Wallace Stevens puts it in “The Poems of our Climate,” sometimes we want more than just carnations. Beyond the usual roses and peonies, there are many plants in our gardens that make gorgeous arrangements. I recently had some fun walking around my garden, choosing unconventional plants — no carnations — to … [Read more...]

How to grow lupines

lupines in gravel

Lupines are a perennial I always notice and admire, but I've had no luck growing them in my own garden. They grow abundantly on the east coast and in other places (some may say too abundantly), but they do have a few “special requests.” I decided to ask a friend of mine who has grown lupines from seed for years in her Ontario garden for a few tips. 1) Lupines like acidic … [Read more...]

A peek through the garden gates

tucked away bench

Through the Garden Gate, the annual tour of private gardens put on by the Toronto Botanical Garden, is set in a different neighbourhood each year. This year's tour focuses on Forest Hill, one of the most prestigious neighbourhoods in the city, which means visitors will get an up-close look at some grand and decadent gardens. Last week's preview of the 19 gardens on the tour … [Read more...]

Building a raised garden bed

plants for cinder blocks

We finished our raised garden bed last week and learned a few things along the way, mainly that making one isn’t that difficult. There are several advantages to a raised garden bed, but the two that convinced me that it was the best option for my new veggie garden are 1) the chance to improve the soil and control its makeup better than an in-ground bed and 2) the soil warms up … [Read more...]

The hardy plant society’s super plant sale

irises at plant sale

This past Sunday was the Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plant Society's annual plant sale, held at the Toronto Botanical Garden. With a lineup beginning almost an hour before the sale began, an overflowing parking lot and eager gardeners jostling through the aisles to get their must-haves before someone else did, it was the gardening event in Toronto last weekend. What draws … [Read more...]

Garden centre preview of new plants

star dust euphorbia and voodoo star red verbena

Last week I attended President's Choice Lawn and Garden Sneak-Peek at the Toronto Botanical Garden. New plant introductions and old favourites were featured  to give garden writers and others a look at what President's Choice will be offering in their garden centres this year. Here are some highlights from the event (true to form, mostly edibles caught my eye). • My … [Read more...]

Waiting for the last frost date

seedlings

Every night, I’m checking the weather forecast to see if Toronto is expecting a frost. It’s that time of year, when you’re not getting a frost every night, but you’re not guaranteed above-freezing temperatures every night, either. With lots of seedlings waiting patiently under grow lights until they can be hardened off and transplanted, and a whole lot of flower and vegetable … [Read more...]

Gardening gets provocative at Grow Op

plants and lights installation

Thought-provoking, that is. This past weekend was the first annual Grow Op at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto. Art and garden installations took over the Gladstone, welcoming urbanites (and not just the gardening kind) into sometimes stunning, sometimes interactive, and often thought-provoking displays on nature and our relationships with it. The exhibitions weren’t … [Read more...]

Making happy, healthy soil

garden bed clean up

Yesterday was my first chance this spring to spend an extended period of time in my yard, which is currently home to dozens of containers and two mostly empty garden beds - one in the front and one in the back. All the back garden bed has is a hosta, lamb’s ears and two mysterious perennials. The front garden is just as empty, with two equally mysterious shrubs. By the end of … [Read more...]

First attempt at starting seeds indoors

soaking seed experiment

Working at Garden Making, I’m surrounded by gardening experts and their tips, so I never lack for good ideas and advice. But I’m a beginner gardener, and trying to do things perfectly intimidates and even discourages me. I do take the basics seriously, but if I want to try planting sedum as a groundcover in a poorly drained area, well, I’m just going to try it, okay? (That … [Read more...]

Preparing to garden with a gardening journal

garden preparations

I’m trying to take gardening more seriously this year, and my main goal is to garden all the way through the season without any long periods (as in weeks, not days) of neglect. I shall not quit when things get rough and hot in July. Hanging out at gardening events and chatting with gardeners over the past month has been motivating, and I feel all revved up and ready to … [Read more...]

Forcing spring branches indoors

dogwood bloom

While standing in the dark near mounds of dogwood shrubs on my friends’ rural property last week in below-freezing temperatures, I felt like a bit of a thief. I had, in fact, gotten permission to help myself to some branches, so I snipped away and heaped my score in the trunk of my car, deposited the pruners where I found them, and drove home. I wanted the bright red dogwood … [Read more...]

Garden show season starts

Garden Making booth

I’ve been walking through flurries and slip-sliding on ice this week, but for me, winter is as good as over. I’m about to be surrounded by blooming plants and gardening ideas for the next two months while attending garden shows across Ontario, and it all starts tomorrow. I’ll be at Garden Making’s booth at the International Home & Garden Show tomorrow, Feb. 21, to … [Read more...]

Sheridan Nurseries celebrates 100

sheridan nurseries book

If you live in southern Ontario, you’ve probably heard of Sheridan Nurseries, one of the largest growers and garden centre retailers in Canada. This year, Sheridan celebrates its 100-year anniversary, and to commemorate the occasion, they’ll be selling a collection of anniversary plants, including a lilac, rose, hosta, heuchera and ninebark. Some of these new introductions are … [Read more...]

A new book on native plants

native plants book

There has been a bit of controversy lately over the maple leaf on the new $20 bill in Canada, and whether it represents the leaf of a native maple or a Norway maple, or it’s a stylized version of maple leaves in general. I’m not going to dip into this debate (if you’re interested, most Canadian news sites have stories on the $20 bill’s Canadian-Norwegian-ambiguous maple leaf), … [Read more...]

Watering goes high-tech

Plant Link includes a sensor that tells you when your plant needs watering -- your houseplant would no longer be forgotten in a corner.

I stumbled upon a new gardening invention the other day on Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a website that helps get funding for creative and technological projects (films, books, restaurants, public space improvements, theatre, games, etc.). In the smallest of nutshells, a project gets posted on the site and anyone can click a few links to help fund it. If the funding target is … [Read more...]

Decking the halls with greenery

One of the wreaths at Hilary's studio, waiting for some finishing touches.

I like to think I’m not the only one who is a bit behind on Christmas preparations. With Christmas only one week away, I'm ashamed to admit that I'm just now putting up my decorations. Like many gardeners, I love to bring fresh greenery and branches into my home to use in vases, garlands and wreaths. I contacted Hilary Bellis of It Can Be Arranged in Niagara-on-the-Lake, … [Read more...]

Discovering new poinsettias

poinsettia-greenhouse

There is no plant or flower that says Christmas like the poinsettia. This is the time of year where everywhere you look, there is another red poinsettia – rows of them in grocery stores and one at every office or holiday party you visit. Eventually, you can just stop noticing them. Last Friday, though, I think I saw more poinsettias in one hour than I had in my whole … [Read more...]

Overwintering succulents

overwintering succulents

I made the trip from Toronto to Niagara-on-the-Lake last week to visit Garden Making's offices for some meetings, and took a few photos of my pretty succulents. I shipped them off to the office once the temperature was dipping below 10°C on a regular basis, about a month and a half ago. They need to live in a sunny spot over the winter, and while I have lots of windows in my … [Read more...]

One of a Kind gardening gifts

Tangled Garden was the Worth the Drive destination in our Winter 2012/12 issue, and I was struck by their pretty display when I found their booth. I'm now the happy owner of some tasty (and rather hot!) horseradish jelly. The herbs, fruits and veggies used in their jellies, jams, etc. come from their garden.

I went to the One of a Kind Show in Toronto last week to look for gardening gift ideas. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. Here are some of my favourite gardening gifts from the show – gifts that will make any gardener smile and also support Canadian artisans who are as passionate about their craft as we are about our gardens. The show runs until this Sunday, Dec … [Read more...]