I’ve visited Canada Blooms almost every year since it began; often as a volunteer, sometimes as a civilian. After a few start-up pains (like that first year way out by the airport) and a few glory years (remember Janet Rosenberg’s spectacular garden designs for Loblaws?), Canada’s largest indoor garden show has settled into something of a safe middle age – and, as a safely middle-aged woman, I can say that without rancour.
This year’s theme is Flower Power. I love reading the judges’ comments on floral designs at flower shows. One of them this year had this Canada Blooms pegged just right, “Flower Power is there, but does not stir our imagination.”
Well, that’s not exactly fair. With Canada Blooms, I’m like those weather-beaten British folk in Bill Bryson‘s Notes from a Small Island: “Oh well; mustn’t grumble.”
Here in the first of a series of posts (in random order) are some of the reasons why.
1. The Early Morning Tours
Sarah and I visited on the morning of opening day, and we did it via the only way to travel, an early morning tour. Starting at 8 am, it gives spring-starved gardeners like us a two-hour headstart on the hordes that will arrive at 10, all with the benefit of a Master Gardener (in our case, the pleasant Brigid O’Reilly, right) as a guide in groups of about 6-10 people.
Having volunteered for six years as Master Gardener myself (four as a tour guide at Canada Blooms), I know how great the tours can be.
The most wonder-filled part of my experience as a guide was our orientation by the show’s General Manager the day before opening. Held while earth movers are still shifting tonnes of earth or towering trees in full leaf and while designers are solving last-minute glitches in their exhibits, it was like being backstage at a blockbuster Broadway show during the technical dress rehearsal.
We saw the magic being made, got all the dirt on all the dirt, and mapped out our scripts for the tours we’d volunteered for.
Being there at 8 am on opening day with a guide who has just gone though this is the next-best thing. The flowers are still fresh, the hyacinths are at their peak, and you still get to see exhibitors scurrying around putting on their finishing touches.
Just one thing. Don’t tell anyone about the tours. Let’s keep it our secret, okay?