By Tara Nolan
Every year, around the end of January, I keep a close eye on my inbox for the annual invite to the GWA Region VII luncheon held at Canada Blooms, Canada’s largest flower and garden show. This event generally sells out, so I always make sure I register right away.
The day started bright with a tour for GWA attendees through all the display gardens before the doors open to the public. It’s a great opportunity to take pictures without a ton of people in them. Helen Battersby of Toronto Gardens led the group through each space, providing lots of interesting information and anecdotes about the designs and plants.
I was really impressed by this year’s show. Last year there was nary a bloom in sight but this year there were lots of flowering trees, spring bulbs, and other fabulous blooms. Some of my favorite exhibits included Julie Moore’s “Stingray Garden” inspired by a stingray umbrella. Genoscape always builds amazing water features for the show. GWA member Sean James of Fern Ridge Landscaping helped create a space educating gardeners about the importance of knowing where your pipes and wires are on your property before you start digging. He also showcased eco-friendly Envirolok bags covered in Sedum Master mats. I want to experiment with these mats in my own garden.
Another favorite – and I’m completely biased here – was the Toronto Botanical Garden’s botanical bar. I’m biased because for the last three years now I’ve volunteered for a day helping to build the TBG’s display garden. I also helped out on the first Friday afternoon serving samples of wild rose syrup. I was honored to see this year they had included in their display one of the raised beds from my new book Raised Bed Revolution.
Back to GWA Connect. This year, we had an amazing keynote speaker, Roy Diblik. I came away very inspired by his talk, which made me completely rethink my plans for my garden. Tony Spencer, our Region VII co-director, who was responsible for organizing Roy’s talk, wrote a great piece about it on his blog The New Perennialist.
Before lunch, we were divided into three groups. Then Susan Poizner, Charlie Dobbin and Roy Diblik rotated among the groups to give us micro-talks about engaging a modern audience. These were very productive talks. I came away with quite a few ideas.
At the luncheon, we all had the opportunity to network as well as hear from a variety of members. Fiskars, who sponsored the lunch, showcased their new products, which included the terrifying-looking and coveted clearing hook. Mark Cullen presented a new garden hoe that he helped design for his Home Hardware line, as well as his new book The New Canadian Garden. We learned all about an interesting new website called Spaces2Grow, which helps home gardeners plan out their edible gardens. And I had the opportunity to present my book Raised Bed Revolution, which was a little nerve-wracking since it was directly to my colleagues. Our last presenter at the lunch was Paul Zammit from the Toronto Botanical Garden who gave an impassioned talk on the importance of pollinators. We concluded with a sweet maple syrup toast, the perfect way to cap off another great GWA event!
Meet the Author
Tara Nolan is a garden writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Toronto Star, Reader’s Digest and Canadian Living. Tara is a co-founder, with three other garden writers, of Savvy Gardening and has written her first gardening book, Raised Bed Revolution for Cool Springs Press, which will be released May 1, 2016. She was the award-winning web editor of Canadian Gardening magazine’s website for six years. In March 2016 she appeared in a television show called Garden Wisdom on WNED Buffalo. Tara does work for the Toronto Botanical Garden and the Canadian Garden Council (as a social media advisor), and volunteers for the Royal Botanical Garden.