April 15, 2018

The Centennial Park Conservatory 2018 Easter Flower Show

Florist Hydrangeas, Easter Lilies, Tulips and Daffodils Provide Relief


The poet T.S. Eliot wasn't kidding when he began The Waste Land with the words  "April is the cruellest month,..." April has been indeed cruel for Toronto gardeners as a blast of freezing rain, hail, sleet and the ilk descended upon our fair city this weekend. And looking at my garden, it does look a bit like a waste land, a frozen flat field of browns and greys. It could be mid-November out there, forget about mid-April. 

My patience is truly wearing thin, hoping for warmer days with the sun gracing us along with a fragrant spring wind. It got to the point where even looking at masses of Easter Lilies would alleviate my floral deprivation. So off I travelled yesterday to the western part of Toronto where the Centennial Park Conservatory is located to get warm and take some (many) pictures, before all this current sh*tty weather arrived

You can make the argument that flower shows aren't really about gardening but, to me, you're using a very narrow definition. You likely know by now that I favour the "ornamental" side of the gardening spectrum as I find plants arranged in an aesthetically-pleasing manner appealing, regardless if they are edible or not, native or not, hardy or not, etc.

And if masses of greenhouse-grown Easter lilies and florist hydrangeas are not considered ornamental given the still-wintry conditions outside, then I don't know what is.



Blue and pink Florist Hydrangeas and Easter Lilies at the Centennial Park Conservatory Easter Flower Show by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Blue and pink Florist Hydrangeas and
Easter Lilies at the Centennial Park Conservatory
2018 Easter Flower Show 

Easter weekend came early this year at the end of March so I didn't know how fresh-looking the Easter Flower Show's exhibits would be but such worries turned out to be unfounded. All (and I mean all ) of the plants looked to be in top shape. It was a shame that so few visitors took advantage of their beauty during my visit but given it was a rainy Thursday after the Easter holiday weekend ended two weeks ago, this was understandable. All the better for me with no pesky strangers getting in my way while taking my pictures (just kidding, sort of.)


I'm not a fan of Easter Lilies and find big leaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla cultivars) way overused in Toronto gardens but many new and old gardeners seem to love their mopheads and pom-poms. One good thing, though, about flower shows is that certain classic garden design principles are on display for you to make note of and incorporate in your own garden at home. Principles like the good use of repetition, rhythm, and scale are shown in many of these pictures in this post.

  
Blue and white Florist hydrangeas and Easter Lilies at the Centennial Park Conservatory Easter Flower Show by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Blue and white Florist hydrangeas and Easter Lilies
at the Centennial Park Conservatory
2018 Easter Flower Show 


Blue Florist Hydrangea macrophylla and Easter Lilies at the Centennial Park Conservatory Easter Flower Show by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Blue Florist Hydrangea macrophylla and Easter Lilies
at the Centennial Park Conservatory
2018 Easter Flower Show 

Centennial Park Conservatory 2018 Easter Flower Show blue Florist Hydrangeas and Easter Lilies by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Centennial Park Conservatory
2018 Easter Flower Show
blue Florist Hydrangeas and Easter Lilies

Centennial Park Conservatory 2018 Easter Flower Show pink lacecap Florist Hydrangeas and Easter Lilies by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Centennial Park Conservatory
2018 Easter Flower Show pink lacecap
Florist Hydrangeas and Easter Lilies

The next three pictures will give you an idea of the main display beds in the greenhouse where the seasonal Flower Shows are held. Here's looking down one side:

Centennial Park Conservatory 2018 Easter Flower Show Massed Florist Hydrangeas and Easter Lilies by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Centennial Park Conservatory 2018
Easter Flower Show
Massed Florist Hydrangeas
and Easter Lilies 

This picture shows the central show bed:

Massed Florist Hydrangeas and Easter Lilies at the Centennial Park Conservatory Easter Flower Show by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Massed Florist Hydrangeas and Easter Lilies
at the Centennial Park Conservatory
2018 Easter Flower Show

And this area is on the other side of the central bed:

Massed Florist Hydrangeas and Easter Lilies at the Centennial Park Conservatory 2018 Easter Flower Show by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Massed Florist Hydrangeas and Easter Lilies
at the Centennial Park Conservatory
2018 Easter Flower Show 

Even if you hate such "wasteful" floral displays (and you'd be a curmudgeon), your garden would benefit from effective the use of repetition and rhythm. Instead of buying one of a dozen types of plants and unintentionally trying to create a botanical garden, choose three groups of four types (to give an illustration) and mass them. This will lead to a stronger design with greater visual impact or, as I like to phrase, it will "amp up the wow factor". 

I took the following closeup of the various hydrangea flower heads. Don't ask me for variety names as there were no labels and I think there are dozens or more of florist hydrangea cultivars anyway; hence, the unhelpful captions.


Centennial Park Conservatory 2018 Easter Flower Show Florist Hydrangea by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Centennial Park Conservatory 2018
Easter Flower Show Florist Hydrangea 


Centennial Park Conservatory 2018 Easter Flower Show Florist Hydrangea pink lacecap by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Centennial Park Conservatory 2018
Easter Flower Show Florist Hydrangea pink lacecap 


Florist Hydrangea at the Centennial Park Conservatory 2018 Easter Flower Show by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Florist Hydrangea at the Centennial
Park Conservatory 2018 Easter Flower Show 


Florist Hydrangea macrophylla at the Centennial Park Conservatory 2018 Easter Flower Show by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Florist hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
at the Centennial Park Conservatory
2018 Easter Flower Show 


Florist's Hydrangea macrophylla at the Centennial Park Conservatory 2018 Easter Flower Show by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Florist's Hydrangea macrophylla
at the Centennial Park Conservatory
2018 Easter Flower Show


Centennial Park Conservatory 2018 Easter Flower Show Florist Hydrangea blue lacecap by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Centennial Park Conservatory 2018 Easter
Flower Show Florist Hydrangea blue lacecap 

These Florist Hydrangeas are the same plants you might get or receive for Mother's Day or part of a bouquet from the local flower shop. Occasionally I see some clients trying to nurse them in their gardens after the blooms fade. They usually look sad by summer's end and unlikely to survive the first winter outdoors. These Hydrangea macrophylla are not reliably hardy for us in zone 5 so if you still want to get one or several, buy the hardy shrub from a real garden center. I do warn you that after a very cold winter with little snow cover, even the "hardy" Big Leaf hydrangeas are killed right to the ground or even down to the roots.



Since Easter came early this year, remnants from the Spring Flower Show which precedes the Easter Flower Show were left for our enjoyment. Normally the Show beds are filled with tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other spring bulbs but they were removed to allow room for the hydrangeas and Easter lilies. Some tulips, however, still were on bloom and I took these pictures:


Centennial Park Conservatory 2018 Easter Flower Show pink Parrot tulips and hydrangeas by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Centennial Park Conservatory 2018 Easter
Flower Show pink Parrot tulips and hydrangeas 

The above shows a typical spring or Easter pastel flower colour combination: pink from the parrot tulips, light blue from the hydrangeas and yellow from the back shrub (?) which had no identification. It reminded me of a cinquefoil (Potentilla) but it could be something completely unrelated.


Florist Hydrangea macrophylla and pink Parrot tulips at the Centennial Park Conservatory Easter Flower Show by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Florist Hydrangea macrophylla and pink Parrot tulips
at the Centennial Park Conservatory
2018 Easter Flower Show


Florist hydrangeas and Queen of the Night black Tulips at the Centennial Park Conservatory Easter Flower Show by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Florist hydrangeas and "Queen of the Night" black Tulips
at the Centennial Park Conservatory
2018 Easter Flower Show

I think these satiny black "Queen of the Night" tulips provide some unexpected drama when combined with the hydrangeas' quiet pastel pinks and blues. A red tulip wouldn't be as effective.


Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus Pheasant's Eye daffodil Centennial Park Conservatory Easter Flower Show by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus
(Pheasant's Eye) daffodil
at the Centennial Park Conservatory
Easter Flower Show

This small clump of Poet's Narcissus was the sole leftover, daffodil-wise, from the Spring Flower Show.


Parrot tulips at the Centennial Park Conservatory Easter Flower Show by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Parrot tulips at the Centennial Park
Conservatory Easter Flower Show 

Pink Parrot tulip detail at the Centennial Park Conservatory Easter Flower Show by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Pink Parrot tulip detail at the Centennial
Park Conservatory Easter Flower Show 


Pink Parrot Tulips and hydrangeas at the Centennial Park Conservatory 2018 Easter Flower Show by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Pink Parrot Tulips and hydrangeas
at the Centennial Park Conservatory
2018 Easter Flower Show 

Queen of the Night black Tulips and Florist hydrangeas at the Centennial Park Conservatory Easter Flower Show by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Queen of the Night" black Tulips and
Florist hydrangeas at the Centennial Park
Conservatory Easter Flower Show


Centennial Park Conservatory 2018 Easter Flower Show Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus Pheasant's Eye daffodil by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Centennial Park Conservatory
2018 Easter Flower Show
Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus
(Pheasant's Eye) daffodil 

Spring container with Florist hydrangeas at the Centennial Park Conservatory 2018 Easter Flower Show by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Spring container with Florist hydrangeas
at the Centennial Park Conservatory
2018 Easter Flower Show 

Lastly, this picture above may give you inspiration for a short-lived spring container. Our house's two front containers still have their winter decorations (evergreens, red-twig dogwood stems, etc.) and, ridiculously for mid-April, look appropriate, currently covered with a layer of snow and ice.