Oh, Canada Blooms


CB display garden (detail)

And oh garden shows. I get more pleasure looking at the
first spring ephemerals emerging in my front yard than I do from most garden
shows, but Canada Blooms in Toronto is always a temptation. Measured by
attendance, CB is one of the big ones, right up there with Philadelphia,
Seattle, San Francisco, and so on.  I did not see Martha Stewart in action during her brief visit
yesterday, but managed a brisk walkthrough of the show Wednesday.

There was also a wall of daffodils.

Though the display gardens in Canada Blooms are, for the
most part, reasonably sophisticated and occasionally beautiful, only rarely do
they transcend their components of various pavements, some sort of water
feature, and a surrounding frame of evergreens, spring perennials and bulbs. What
I miss in garden show display gardens are the plants, which is unreasonable,
for sure. Everything must be forced and as a result the palette has to be

But that’s fine because what I like about Canada Blooms is
not the authenticity but the artifice. CB is, as its name suggests, a flower
show as well as a garden show and I love seeing the extravagant goofiness of
the floral displays. They, more than anything else, evoke the color, fragrance,
and abundance I’m looking forward to in my summer garden, whether I happen to
grow the particular flowers or not.
There is a section of more-or-less conservatively arranged flowers and
then a gallery of flower sculptures—some of which are pretty wacky. Lots of fun


Elsewhere, I appreciated the attempt to bring edible gardening
into the mix, and the considerable amount of real estate dedicated to education
about sustainable lawns and gardens. As you know, most provinces in Canada have
some kind of pesticide ban in place (Ontario’s is the toughest), so they have
to walk the walk.

The Stewart appearance seemed to go over well, according to
visitor comments. “Kind of humble, “more impressed than I thought I’d be,” and “down
to earth” were what I heard members of her audience say on a web news source last night.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. Canada Blooms…..ugh. Where were the clever ideas that people could take home this year? Usually they have a competition that you vote on with about 12 celebrities for, well one year they designed a front door display, so they could paint their door and have an urn or whatever they wanted in a designated space. It was brilliant and usable stuff. Another year they had a small patio space, again very adaptable ideas for the general public. This year there were big gardens, yes, but they didn’t have any magical spaces in them, you walked in and saw the whole garden, bam! I guess the exhibitors and the show goers have opposing needs from the show. They needed more medium to small garden displays, wonderful little gems of creativity. I definitely left feeling more than a little disappointed, as did some other women that I chatted with on our way back to our vehicles.

  2. My first and last visit to Canada Blooms on Sunday, March 21st. I was totally disappointed. I thought that there was going to be more garden displays and certainly never expected to see so many vendors.
    It definitely wasn’t worth the admission!!

  3. I am off tomorrow to see the new Boston Flower Show, still sponsored by the Mass Hort Society. It is smaller, runs fewer days, and located in a different spot in the city. Somehow, no matter how bad, a Flower Show seems part of spring for me.

  4. I attended the Boston Flower Show today. It was fabulous. Loved the small perennial plants, like herbs, used instead of a lawn in one designer’s exhibit. quite impressive. Other exhibits were fun to see, especially the examples of the use of stone and water in the garden. The only thing I did not like was that the space for the show seemed tight. too much in too little an area. of course, there were dozens of pedlers, including food and clothing sales booths. will never understand how the choice of items for sale is made. but overall, it was a fabulous show, and a real welcome for spring!

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