February 23, 2012

Allan Gardens Conservatory Spring Flower Show 2012 part II

Toronto blooms (under glass)

As promised in an earlier post called "Beating the February blahs", here are some recent photos I took when I visited nearby Allan Gardens Conservatory.

You'll likely see similar plantings at Canada Blooms held next month but if you're suffering from HSAD (horticulture seasonal affective disorder) right now or don't plan to go to the national/home/garden/flower/renovation show (talk about a hybrid under one roof!), I hope these pics will alleviate your cabin fever (or possibly exacerbate it.)


Allan Gardens Conservatory Spring Flower Show 2012 pink and yellow tulips by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Pink and yellow tulips scream "spring is here"!

Allan Gardens Conservatory Spring Flower Show 2012 white daffodils by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Can anyone i.d.the purple flowers in front of the daffodils?


One minor quibble about the greenhouses is that the temporary/seasonal plantings don't have any labels so your idenitification skills are put to the test. I'm just enjoying the mass of colours nevertheless!



Allan Gardens Conservatory 2012 Spring Flower Show leda statue and swan fountain with hellebores, amaryllis, oxalis by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Now, isn't this just to die for?

How dreamy is this? Daffodils in the background, maybe maidenhair fern spilling over, hellebores at Leda's feet, papyrus (?), floating tubs of red/wine amaryllis with purple oxalis (and, wow, those yellow flowers really contrast with the purple foliage.)

The goldfish in the pond have quite the digs!


Allan Gardens Conservatory Spring Flower Show 2012 pink cyclamen by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Cyclamens just speak of cool early spring

Allan Gardens Conservatory Spring Flower Show 2012 English ivy and red cyclamens by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Bed of cyclamen and English ivy that is clean and fresh to me


Allan Gardens Conservatory Spring Flower Show 2012 variegated croton and purple iresine by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Not exactly spring pastels but perhaps suggesting a summer container?
A complementary colour scheme of yellow and purple creates great contrast and drama (along with red and green and the third duo of blue and orange.) This is my favourite color combination, no contest.

Allan Gardens Conservatory Spring Flower Show 2012 red bromeliad by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Quite the contrast in this bromeliad





















I zoomed in on this red bromeliad but with such contrast of the red and green complementary colours, it wasn't hard to notice the mass of red and yellow bromeliads from far away against the glistening green foliage.
Allan Gardens Conservatory Spring Flower Show 2012 white daffodils and pink cyclamen by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Early spring colour that would be eye-catching in your garden beds!
Allan Gardens Conservatory Spring Flower Show 2012 pink hyacinths white cyclamen by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Pink hyancinths and white cyclamen and light green "cypressy"
Could this be your spring colour scheme for 2012?

February 17, 2012

When Arnold (Promise) met Jelena


Two Toronto witch hazels in love


Hamamelis x intermedia arnold promise witch hazel blooms in clusters by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
"Arnold Promise" witch hazel blooms

Inspired by fellow Toronto blogger Barry's recent post called "Jelena" and helped by abnormally warm temperatures,  I had to post some photos of my favourite shrub in its current glory. My "Arnold Promise" witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia "Arnold Promise") is about 15 years old and is a blooming machine every February and March. This spring (well, it feels like spring in mid-February when it shouldn't) the blooms came earlier and I was in the back today strangely with no snow. I hope you enjoy the show!



Hamamelis x intermedia Arnold Promise witch hazel flower in bloom detail by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Hamamelis x intermedia "Arnold Promise" 
witch hazel blooms in detail


Such strange looking flowers! The yellow for this cultivar, to me, is very clean and bright and stands out against the reddish sepals. "Arnold Promise" doesn't shed its leaves in the fall so, for some, the look isn't as "clean" as one might desire. (This doesn't bother me at all.) Last year's leaves will drop as the new leaves open up.



Hamamelis x intermedia Arnold Promise witch hazel blooms in clusters by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
More "Arnold Promise" witch hazel flower clusters



Here's a picture with the blooms displayed horizontally along a branch. When there's nothing else blooming right now, this is such a treat. Imagine the leaves aren't there if they bother you!



Arnold Promise Hamamelis x intermedia witch hazel shrub by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
My beloved witch hazel in its spring glory--
the rest of the garden, not as much

The shrub is about 8' high and 10' wide so you need to give witch hazels room. My specimen gets about 6 hours of direct sun from morning to mid-afternoon and grows in amended soil. It prefers richer soil that's slightly moist but isn't too demanding. Do not, I repeat, do not prune this guy into a meatball, trapezoid or wedge.  Zero pest and disease issues (besides the flipping squirrels which nip off a few clusters for reasons only known to their black hearts.)

What's not to love? Get one in the ground this year!

February 12, 2012

The 2012 Allan Gardens Conservatory Spring Flower Show


Beating the Toronto gardening February blahs


Allan Gardens Conservatory 2012 Spring Flower Show Zurel tulips by garden muses: not another Toronto gardening blog
Allan Gardens Conservatory 2012 
Spring Flower Show "Zurel" tulips
                                                       
This is a tough time of the year in Toronto, garden-wise. Spring is still months away and although we haven't had a very harsh winter so far, I think we can agree that we want it over soon. To tide you over, here are some pictures I took last year at the Allan Gardens Conservatory in downtown Toronto. (I'll try to post more recent pics soon but for now, enjoy!)


Allan Gardens Conservatory 2012 Spring Flower Show leda statue and swan fountain by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Leda and not-so innocent Zeus in the pond


Allan Gardens Conservatory 2012 Spring Flower Show red and orange streaked tulips by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Orangey-streakiness for you tulip lovers!

These tulips would look fabulous en masse in your garden bed or perhaps in a series of dark blue containers along a path. Sure, they wouldn't last but the effect would be memorable.





2012 Spring Flower Show mass of pink hyacinths by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Mass of pink hyacinths: 
Do you love or hate them, scent-wise?




Strelitzia reginae Bird of Paradise flower Allan Gardens Conservatory by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Strelitzia reginae (Bird of Paradise) flower
at the Allan Gardens Conservatory 




Osteospermum  African Daisy at Allan Gardens Conservatory by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Osteospermum  (African Daisy) at the
Allan Gardens Conservatory Spring Flower Show 2012




Tahiti narcissus daffodil at Allan Gardens Conservatory Spring Flower Show 2012 by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Tahiti" narcissus daffodil at the
Allan Gardens Conservatory Spring Flower Show 2012 

February 05, 2012

Are you going to Canada Blooms this year?

I ask myself this question every March


I know it's over a month away but Canada Blooms in Toronto, our "Largest Flower & Garden Festival" and simultaneously "North America's Largest Home & Garden Event" (more on the latter further down) is scheduled from March 16-25 this year. It's interesting to note that the show is "co-locating" (co-mingling?) with the National Home Show for the first time in the same building/different hall and running now for ten days instead of the usual five in the past. There have been arguments supporting and criticizing the move, all perfectly reasonable, but will they convince you to attend again or for the first time?

I went to my first CB in 2006, when it was held at the Metro Convention Centre. I remember taking the escalators down to the bunkered exhibition halls. (Someone described it as travelling to hell surrounded by pretty flowers!) As a "mature" (lol) student in Humber College's Landscape Technician program,  I helped build the school's annual contribution to the show, a display garden showing off the students' construction skills as our design teachers intepreted the theme of the year. (CB always has a theme every year. For 2012, it's "CityCulture.") Looking at all the pretty flowers (mostly all were forced of course as you'd very unlikely see blooming rhodos outside here in March) many stories underground was always a surreal experience. You certainly had to suspend your disbelief for a few hours.

So for the past five years I would take the subway or streetcar down, usually with my kids in tow. This year, I'm undecided so far. There will certainly be more people under the same roof (which likely mean more contacts for the landscape contractors, renovators, and hot tub sales staff to prospect) and I can only imagine the horde on the weekend. My personal experience has usually been....well, meh. I appreciate the earthy smell and visually impact of tulips, daffodils, and rhodos blooming their heads off when we're starved for these things after a hard winter. But...

(Mini-rant on:

what's with the often stand-offish and aloof attitude I get when I walk through many of the exhibits. Do I look like a typical homeowner who may be looking for your landscaping services? You'll never know by not making eye contact while gabbing with your colleagues. A friendly "hello" goes a long way, and you don't even have to mean it!

Mini-rant off.)

Many display gardens are either highly conceptualized designs (I recall painted (dead) tree limbs suspended with upside down umbrellas one year) or gardens you'd likely see at your favourite local McMansion (you know, the ones with cubic yards and yards of interlocking pavers, concrete retaining walls and mega boulders finished off with a few Emerald cedars.) I'll leave it up to you to decide what's more aesthetically pleasing.

Usually the highlight was seeing my old instructors like Harry Chang (profiled in the Humber College video above), chatting and commiserating about how busy he is and seeing this year's garden design. It's good to see that Harry hasn't changed over the years, while I'm ambivalent about how CB has.

Anyway, say hello to Harry for me if I don't make it!

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