This past week, I was lucky enough to spend two days in Toronto at Canada Blooms, the largest garden show in Canada and one that runs from March 15 to 24. This year the theme was ‘The Magic of Spring', which for Canadians is a time for rejuvenation, regeneration, hope and growth. The show did not disappoint and I thought I'd share some of this years highlights. To find out more, check out www.canadablooms.com.
The Exercise Garden
Yup, I just said ‘exercise garden'. Innovative designer, Shawn Gallaugher of Otium created a garden to improve both physical and mental well being. It's a beautiful and ornamental space, but doubles as an outdoor gym and features a range of unique exercise spaces such as the vibrant green re-inforced structure that can be used to tone the upper body. Plus, this complete training circuit has areas for weights, yoga, and various other fitness activities - all within the relaxed setting of a garden.
A Spring Gathering
Designed by Tourism Ireland and Parkland Ltd., this lush 2600 square foot garden was inspired "by the natural and man-made landscapes of Ireland." and includes a whopping 44 tonnes of stone that both surround the garden and make up its features. There are cobblestone pathways, rolling emerald hills and several imposing standing stones. Of course, what's an Irish garden without shamrock plants, plenty of moss and a burial chamber made from three large stones.
A Natural Playground
Sponsored by The Canadian Wildlife Federation and built by Bienestock Natural Playground, this space is a delight to both the young and the young at heart. It's a fully accessible space and designed to engage all five senses. There are musical elements built right into the landscape - a chime fence - plus, a slide carved from a 300 year old oak, areas with sand and water and a fun sideways tree climber.
The Chinese Culture Garden
The Chinese Culture Garden is a peaceful oasis in the middle of the wonderful chaos of Canada Blooms. It melds nature into a garden with a stunning pagoda, meandering stone pathways and a bridge, a pond with gold fish and many strategically placed stones, bamboos and plants. Plus, you can enjoy a cup of Chinese tea beneath the shelter of the pagoda.
Timeless, What's Old is New Again
With their sizable garden, Landscape Ontario celebrates its 40th anniversary by focusing on the changes in both garden design and use over the decades. Three repeated elements are stone, water and plants, but they are used in a range of ways to create a space that is sustainable, showcases new advancements and even includes edible plants! I loved the drystone lighthouse, but the dancing wall of water was also incredible.
Niki Jabbour is the author of The Year Round Vegetable Gardener and the host of The Weekend Gardener on News 95.7 fm. Season 7 kicks off Sunday May 19 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Find her on facebook, twitter and www.nikijabbour.com.