Canada Blooms: Why we go, 4

4. Grand larceny

You might be unable to afford all that limestone hardscaping or the wrought-iron fencing or the brilliant “exterior designers”. But there’s one thing every gardener can afford at Canada Blooms: free ideas to steal.

Wantonly and with abandon. To wit: the watering can fountain in my own garden, pictured on the right; it continuously refills itself from its own tap. I remember coming home from seeing one at a Canada Blooms in years gone by and saying to my ingenious husband, “There’s something I need you to figure out how to build.”

The raccoons and I have been loving it ever since.

No display garden this year has the top-to-bottom ingenuity that was seen a few years ago from Earth Inc. who at the time were fresh on the scene and worked brilliantly on a shoestring. In smaller ways, though, some things come close.

I wish I could give proper credit where due. Forgive me, but with a camera on half battery charge, I wasn’t able to take pictures of the credits as well as the finished results to record who’s who. Next year!

The opening image for this post, and the two that follow here, are from the smallest “gardens” at the show, the Skyscapes balcony gardens. They pack a lot of great ideas into a small space.

Consider these recycle-reuse inspirations from the same row. They even have new ideas for old rope: threading it in random patterns between screws on a frame to create a garden trellis; or recycling what looks like old bedframes (probably a kind of wire fencing) for the same purpose.

Or this whimsical fountain fashioned from grandmaman’s old silver tea service, complete with tea tray. Le Village des Valeurs, here we come.

Proving that the future of Canadian industrial and landscape design is in good hands, a couple of exhibits showcase young talent. The niftiest of these might be the birdfeeders created by teams of design students in the Scott’s Wild Bird Habitat. At the show, you can vote for your favourite. Sarah and I each had our own.

I rather favour the quirky. Such as a woodpecker feeder made from a spiral of melted plastic forks and spoons. Or the one here, designed from coffee cup lids and plastic stir-sticks that would otherwise be tossed away.

These aren’t ideas you’d wish to steal. If anything, you’d want the young inventors themselves to benefit from their imagination.

What is theftworthy, however, is the notion that you can look at everyday objects in new ways and apply them to your garden.

Add a pump, tubing and, if you like, some chicken wire, landscape cloth and river stones, for example, and almost any container can become a fountain — whether it’s this chic zinc pillar or the teapot or watering can above.

And here’s one you probably didn’t know. I didn’t. You can force a bulb without soil, using about 1/4 to 1/3 vodka or gin to the volume of water. The alcohol keeps the bulb from blooming too fast. That one’s courtesy of a vendor in the Marketplace.

See, you never know what you’ll take home free from Canada Blooms.

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