Idea File: Ten from Canada Blooms 2013

Shawn Gallaugher’s new venture Otium Exercise Gardens creates spaces that look like a garden, but act like a gym. A few of the gardens this year incorporated some aspect of fitness and outdoor living.

Today’s Friday Idea File brings you ten things of note from this first day of Canada Blooms 2013. With one wee exception, this post is all about garden design. We’ll follow up with some floral notes (as well as closer looks at a few of the gardens) in other posts. Tell us what caught your eye this year.

On the same fitness theme, this reflexology path by Shibui Landscaping made me want to remove my shoes and try it.
Loved the mix of old-world drystone with its contemporary inserts. Terrace designed by Holbrook & Associates and wall built by Reid Snow, whom we wrote about last year.
Over-sized slabs of flamed Muskoka granite made a huge impact in a small garden – we saw something similar used in another garden, too. This exhibit was sugar-shack themed, right down to the snow, designed by Near North.
Green roof material – in flats of seeded mixed sedum – used as groundcover. Design by Mori Gardens for the Reif Winery exhibit. (Excuse my unsteady hand with the camera; unsure if it’s me or the sensor that’s wonky.)
Landscape architect Victoria Taylor and EcoMan Jonas Spring gain team up, turning cinderblocks on their sides to create a raised bed planted with sempervivum. One of four Re/Max gardens (the others are scaled almost like doll house gardens).
This rain-shower water feature is just one small detail of Kent Ford’s simple but highly detailed garden. Look at the length of those beams! Repurposed, reclaimed, recycled and recyclable is a recurrent theme at the show.
Speaking of recycling, Bienenstock’s natural playgound is bigger than ever, where kids can clamber through hollow logs or climb on branches from felled trees. The shiny central feature above is a slide fashioned from a 300-year-old oak.
My non-garden exception (so cute!) exemplifies the great idea of getting kids into gardening. It’s an entry in the junior design competition in the Garden Club of Toronto Floral Hall. We can’t forget that the Garden Club co-founded Canada Blooms.
Landscape Ontario, the association of the province’s landscape trades, is Canada Blooms’ other co-founder. The drystone lighthouse was getting all the notice, but I almost preferred the idea of this super-high arbor.



  1. The path with CMU block turned over to plant in…amazing aesthetic there! The Holbrook project and the stone path is equally stunning. Thanks for sharing what we're missing in the sunny SW USA!

    1. I feel totally in love with that stone — including, in the same booth,huge granite slab steps. Beautiful. (Although a good friend who uses a wheelchair was not happy about the steps. Another post…)

    1. Great overview of the show, Peter. By coincidence, you catch my sister Sarah and I chatting over a Reif wine sample in the "hot seats" around about 2:25 in your video!

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