Tuesday, 6 November 2012

November Meeting: A Celebration to End the Year


It has been another wonderful year of guest speakers and flower shows at the North Toronto Horticultural Society.  November is the time to celebrate this great success with one last gathering for 2012.

Join us on Tuesday November 13th for the Annual North Toronto Hort Potluck Party, Awards Night and Members’ Digital Show.  Members are invited to arrive by 6pm at the TBG’s Floral Hall to drop off a favourite dish.  We will dine starting at 6:30pm.

There are several exciting digital presentations to look forward to.  Don Beard will show us Montreal’s Botanical Gardens.  Anna Leggatt will take us on a tour of Tahiti’s garden wonders while Ruth Gladstone will share images of India and Vietnam.

And, of course, we will recognize those members whose contributions help to make our monthly and annual shows truly outstanding.

We hope to see you all at this enjoyable end-of-year celebration!

A packed house at the 2011 Potluck Party & Awards Night

Annual NTHS Potluck Party,
Awards Night and Digital Show

 Tuesday November 13, 2012

The Floral Hall
Toronto Botanical Garden
777 Lawrence Avenue East

Arrivals: 6:00PM
Dinner Begins:  6:30PM

Please invite a friend
or friends!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Shade - A Problem or a Delight: October Meeting

Tricyrtis lasiocarpa loves shade; mulch it well in winter

Shade: whether you love it or hate it, there's bound to be a patch of shady ground in your garden somewhere.  At our October meeting, master gardener and NTHS member Anna Leggatt told us about a long list of shade lovers that will bloom their hearts outs for you.  Here's a list of plants to explore if you are interested in embracing the darker side of your garden.

Perennials
Epimedium (especially effective in dry shade)
Geranium macrorrhizum (fragrant foliage that is pleasing to some)
Anemone canadensis (a garden thug; keep it contained or it will take over!)
Campanula punctata
Tricyrtis (don't be turned off by the name Toad Lily, this a stunner)

Understory Trees and Shrubs
These trees and shrubs do well under the canopy of taller trees.

Cornus florida
Cercis canadensis (spectacular pink blooms in spring)
Hydrangea quercifolia
Various Japanese Maples
Yew (remember: the berries are poisonous!)
Euonymus
Tsuga canadensis
Rhododendrons (especially PJM)

For Deciduous Shade Conditions
If you have deciduous shade you will likely have lots of light in springtime before the foliage fills in.  Woodland wildflowers will do well in these conditions.  Try a few of these.

Trillium grandiflorum (every Ontario garden needs trillium)
Sanguinaria canadensis "Multiplex" (a stunning double bloodroot)
Iris cristata
Hepatica
Uvularia (more commonly known as Merrybells)
Tiarella cordifolia (a creeping variety that will form a great ground cover)
Mertensia virginica (Virgina Bluebells produce one of the prettiest blue flowers in the garden)
Solomon's Seal (especially the variegated variety for added interest)
Actea rubra and Actea pachypoda (Baneberrys are stunning but produce extremely poisonous berries!  Do not grow where young children might be tempted.)


Spring Bulbs
Bulbs are a great way to have lots of early blooms in the garden.  They take advantage of the spring sunshine before foliage fills in a casts a denser shade.

Anemone Blanda
Muscari
Species Tulips
Corydalis
Crocus
Erythronium (hybrids of the Dog-Tooth Violet tend to produce better bloom)
Scilla siberica
Arum
Cyclamen hederifolium (a hardy cyclamen; be sure to mulch it well with straw)

Lawn
A healthy lawn in deep shade is difficult, if not impossible to achieve.  If you require an expanse of green in deep shade, Anna has some advice:  embrace your moss instead.

Ground Covers
Hosta (be sure to pick varieties with thick leaves to deter slugs)
Brunnera (produces a small blue flower reminiscent of the forget-me-not)
Pachysandra (if you find them boring, plant the variegated variety)
Yellow corydalis
Heuchera (be sure to buy selections that have been in the trade for a few years and are proven performers.  First-year heucheras may fail as many new selections are not suited to our climate.)
Lambs Ears
Various Sedges
Vinca (find variegated varieties for added interest)
Lamium
Ranunculus (beware: it can be aggressive!)
Wild Gingers
Ajugas
Creeping Jenny
Hedera helix (common ivy;  aggressive so keep it in check)

Annuals 
There are plenty of annuals that thrive in shade and produce an endless summer of blooms. 
Begonia
Coleus
Fuschia (with hundreds of varieties you're sure to find one to fall in love with)
Impatiens

There is one plant that scoffs at the deepest, darkest shade and the inhospitable growing conditions around tree roots:  goutweed.  The variegated variety, considered pretty by some, is readily available at many garden centres.  However, be very, very cautious when dealing with this plant.  It is invasive, invasive, invasive!  A garden thug like no other.  Don't say we didn't warn you!!! 

With so many selections there's no reason to shy away from the shade.  Start planning your shade garden today.

Remember, our annual Potluck Supper and Members Digital Show is coming up in November.  Check back soon for more details.  Until next time, happy gardening.


Monday, 1 October 2012

October Meeting: Shade - Problem or Delight?


October is a wonderful time in the garden.  The blazing colours of fall are starting to appear and our gardens will soon be asleep under the fallen foliage.  As the days grow shorter and the evenings grow cooler there are bulbs to be planted, gardens to be put to bed, and plans to be made for next season.  If your plans include starting or sprucing up a shady section of your garden, you won't want to miss this month's meeting. 

Shade is a problem when attempting to grow roses, and a delight when attempting to escape the heat of the sun. Join us as Master Gardener Anna Leggatt opens our eyes to a new world of delightful plants to grow in the shade.

Anna is a very experienced shade gardener with a beautiful shade garden of her own.  She is also a member of North Toronto Horticultural Society.  It is always a treat to hear from one of our own members.


Tricyrtis lasiocarpa thrives in shade


While summer's extravaganza of flowers is slowing down, there's still plenty in bloom.  Be sure to bring in a few selections for our final Flower Show of the year. All the categories are in you 2012 Show Guide.  Until the October meeting, happy gardening!

October Meeting
Tuesday October 9, 2012
Speaker:  Anna Leggatt
Topic:  Shade: A Problem or a Delight?
Toronto Botanical Garden
777 Lawrence Ave. East at Leslie
7:30pm

Everyone Welcome!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The North Toronto Horticultural Society Annual Show: 2012

The North Toronto Horticultural Society held its Annual Show on Sunday September 9th in the Floral Hall of the Toronto Botanical Garden.  Altogether there were 166 entries in the Horticulture and Design categories giving members and visitors alike plenty to feast their eyes on.

Here are just a few photos from this wonderful day.  Click on any image for a closer look.  All pictures are courtesy of Andy McCraw.









While the Annual Show is over and the temperatures are cooling that's no reason to get the garden blues.  Coming up on October 9th, NTHS member Anna Leggatt will be presenting a talk on the joys and challenges of gardening in the shade.  And on November 13th, we will gather once more for our Annual Awards Night, Potluck Dinner and Digital Show.  Check the blog in the coming weeks for more details.

Until next time, happy gardening!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Annual Show: Entries Needed!

 
The North Toronto Horticultural Society Annual Show is always big.  This year, it’s going to be especially big.  NTHS is looking for enough fragrant, colourful and bloom-filled entries to fill The Floral Hall, the largest space at the Toronto Botanical Garden.

Entries can be submitted between 9:00am and 10:45am.  Please don’t be late.  The doors to the exhibit rooms will be closed precisely at 11am for judging. Then enjoy the show between 1pm and 4pm. 

The Annual Show is open to the public.  It’s a great chance to show everyone what our garden club is all about.   Tell your friends and bring a few along to experience this once-a-year horticulture and design extravaganza. 

Details of all the categories are in your 2012 Show Guide. Mary Audia is the Annual Show Director.  Contact her with all your questions.

The North Toronto Executive hopes you join us at this celebration to mark the end of a successful growing season.  


NTHS Annual Show
 Sunday September 9, 2012
Toronto Botanical Garden
The Floral Hall
777 Lawrence Avenue East

Entries: 9:00am-10:45am
Judging: 11am-1pm
Public Admission: 1pm-4pm
Entry Removal: 4pm

Please invite a friend
or friends!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Another Successful Members Garden Tour and Potluck Picnic Party

The skies were clear and the sun was shining bright.  The gardens were lush and bursting with blooms.  And the food was delicious and plentiful.  The North Toronto Horticultural Society hosted another successful Members Garden Tour and Potluck Picnic Party on Tuesday July 10, 2012.  Here are some highlights of the day.  Click on any image for a closer look.


The first stop of the day was Christine Moore's garden which proves you don't need a lot of space to enjoy a lot of plants.  Christine grows pine trees (in containers! even in winter!) plus Japanese maples, hostas and her famous roses.


The drumstick allium were buzzing with bee activity as members toured the garden.  One of Christine's favourite trees is Acer Palmatum "Koto No Ito" which grows right by her gate.  In spring, the leaves look like thin pieces of green string and open gradually.  In the fall, "Koto No Ito" turns crimson quite quickly, adding some drama to the autumn garden. 


Christine happens to be the President of the Canadian Rose Society so it was a real treat to see some of the roses she's so famous for.  Come out to one of North Toronto's flowers shows and there's a good chance you will see some of Christine's award-winning blooms.


Christine (in the red hat) answered lots of questions about her garden.  Here she is chatting with Iris Hazen, another rose afficionado.  Next time you see these two together, listen carefully and start taking notes.  These ladies know all the secrets to successful blooms.


This trellis is just one of the custom-made pieces in Christine's garden.  All the pieces have been crafted by Doris Treleaven of Metalscape.  The sign says it all: it was indeed a blooming good day in Christine's garden.


The next stop of the day was the garden of Lucie and Alex Frirdich.  Even from a distance, it was obvious that there would be a lot to explore.  Lawns still dominate the urban landscape but in Lucie and Alex's front yard there isn't a square inch of lawn to be seen.  Instead, hostas, ornamental grasses, daylilies and purple coneflowers form a stunning tapestry of texture and colour.  All of this before you even reach the front door! 


But wait!  There's more. An equally stunning garden awaits in the backyard.  Lucie definitley has an artist's eye.  Just look at the way the potted geraniums pop against the golden foliage of the hostas and ornamental grass.


The charming garden shed is adorned with window boxes overflowing with petunias.  Notice how just a little bit of colour can have a huge impact and draw the eye. One thing you will notice about the garden is the use of densely planted perennial selections and ground covers.  The weeds just can't compete.


Lucie (second from left) wowed her guests including Mary, Diane and Bonnie with her green thumb.  Lucie is the gardener but, as anyone who has ever wielded a shovel or battled goutweed knows, gardeners can always use a little help.


That's where "garden supervisor" Alex comes in.  Not only is he a great supervisor, he's a great host who's more than happy to spice up your punch. Thanks Lucie and Alex for sharing your garden.


The final garden on the tour grows under the care of Eleanor Cosman.  This sunny poolside border features peonies, phlox, purple coneflower and yarrow.  What a great selection of sun-lovers and heat seekers.  There has been no shortage of either sun or heat this summer.


Here's an example of a plant that pulls triple duty.  The plume poppy is a majestic plant standing about seven feet tall so it is impressive all on its own.  But Eleanor has put this plant to work:  a giant stand of plume poppies hides a backyard pool pump.  The stalks also serve as a natural trellis:  check out the clematis scrambling up to the top of the plume.  Eleanor has a warning though:  if you're thinking about growing plume poppies, come up with a way to keep them contained!


Eleanor tried a variety of plants for this planter before deciding on begonias and the result is pink perfection.


You'll find a bit of green thumb wisdom in Eleanor's garden...


...as well as some green thumb humour.


This hibiscus was blooming its heart out in the heat.  Eleanor's advice for reliable blooms is to get out the pruning shears and give your plants a haircut.  They will reward you with flowers galore.


Thank you Eleanor for sharing your garden with North Toronto members.


While North Toronto members were wrapping up the garden tour portion of the day, another member was hard at work.  Diane Chappelle (second from left), who always makes sure we have an excellent selection of refreshments at our meetings, was busy putting the final touches on the set-up for the potluck picnic party.


She had some help from Don Cockburn who hauled out tables and chairs and opened his garden to the hungry masses.


The food, as at every North Toronto potluck picnic, was delicious.  There was more than enough for return trips to fill your plate.


And there was lots of friendly conversation and garden chatter and advice to round out the evening.


Missy Kitty, incredible, inspiring and our oldest participant at age 94, and Miss Maja, our youngest participant at age 8 (almost 9) both agree:  the 2012 North Toronto Horticultural Society Members Garden Tour and Potluck Picnic Party was a huge success.  

Thanks you to everyone who came out.  If you missed it, please consider joining us next year.

Have a great summer.  We hope to see you all at the Annual Show in September.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Garden Tour and Potluck Picnic Party


It's that time of year again. The Annual North Toronto Horticultural Society Members Garden Tour and Potluck Picnic Party is happening on Tuesday July 10th, 2012. NTHS members Lucie and Alex Frirdich, Christine Moore and Eleanor Cosman are opening their gardens. It's a wonderful opportunity to come out and explore and find new inspiration for your own gardens.

Mary Audia's garden on the 2011 tour
After the tour, head on over to Don Cockburn's garden for our annual Potluck Picnic Party. Bring a favourite dish and your appetite and then settle in for a wonderful evening of great food and great conversation. A map with times and locations for each of the gardens and the potluck is available in the July/August 2012 edition of the newsletter. A $2 donation for the map is appreciated. A donation box will be available at the post-tour party. Funds will help North Toronto continue to provide excellent programming for our members.

Diane Wells' garden on the 2010 tour
If the hot weather we have been experiencing continues, please be prepared for the conditions.  Bring a hat, sunscreen and plenty of water to keep you hydrated through the day. The annual tour and picnic party is one of our club's most popular gatherings. Past tours have been very successful, showcasing a wide variety of garden styles.  Come out and see what 2012 has to offer. We hope to see you all there.

North Toronto Horticultural Society
Annual Members Tour and Potluck Picnic Party
Tuesday July 10th, 2012
Times and Locations Available in the 
July/August 2012 Edition of the Newsletter
For more information contact us

Happy Gardening!



Friday, 22 June 2012

Container Garden Advice: June Meeting

Hibiscus is a great "Thriller" plant for your containers

Our June meeting was full of great advice on how to transform your container gardens from "nice" to "wow!"  Guest speaker Margot Parker could barely get out the door after her presentation as NTHS members scrambled to ask questions and scribble notes.  Here are just a few of Margot's tips on creating a successful container planting.

Containers
Be aware of the pros and cons of the type of container you are using.  For example, plastic is inexpensive and great for holding moisture in but it is short lived.  Ceramic pots can be beautiful but they are heavy and not frost proof.  And iron planters have a classic look but in the heat of summer they can fry your plants.  Margot's favourite containers are made of fibreglass resin.  They are lightweight, frost proof, have a wide range of prices from inexpensive to expensive, and you can easily drill holes in them for drainage.

Soil
Use a soil-less mix for your containers.  A soil-less mix is lightweight unlike potting soil  or triple mix which are too heavy and don't drain well.  Add some pre-soaked water-retaining crystals and you will be able to cut down on watering.

How Many Plants to Use?
Go ahead and really stuff your container full of plants.  Margot recommends one plant per every two inches square.  There are a few reasons for this:  first, you will lose some plants due to weather conditions (10% is an acceptable loss for Margot.)  If a stuffed container loses a few plants, the other plants more suited to the growing conditions will fill in the gaps.  Stuffing your containers will also give you the variety you want to achieve an exciting, eye-catching planting.

Design Tips
Each container planting should aim to thrill, fill and spill.  Thriller plants are those that give you big height and big drama.  Filler plants do just what the name suggests:  fill the space between all the other plants.  The spillers include vines and trailing plants.

Most Important
Margot's most important bit of advice is to have fun creating and be proud of what you have made. To find out more about Margot and to see some of her stunning container garden designs visit her website Naturescapes and Gardens.

Still to come on the blog:  information about our annual Members' Garden Tour in July and an exciting update on the Rose Garden Restoration Project in Edwards' Gardens.  Please check back soon for the very latest.

Until next time, happy gardening.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

June Meeting: Conquering Your Container Garden Conundrums


June Meeting
Tuesday June 12th, 2012 at 7:30pm
Conquering Your Container Garden Conundrums
Speaker:  Margot Parker
Flower Show
Toronto Botanical Garden
777 Lawrence Ave. East (at Leslie)
Everyone Welcome!

Gardening in containers presents its own special challenges, culturally and artistically.  At our June meeting, award-winning designer Margot Parker will share some of her secrets for making and keeping your planters extraordinarily beautiful. Margot is a landscape contractor, private garden coach, and owner of Naturescapes and Gardens. She has a passion for pots and containers and has won multiple awards from the City of Toronto.

Transform your containers from "nice" to "WOW"

June is also the time for one of our biggest flower shows of the year.  Be sure to check your gardens for your best blooms and then show them off at the show.  The show categories are listed below and also available in your 2012 Show Guide.  

SECTION 1 CUT SPECIMENS 
CLASS DESCRIPTION 
Allium 1 stem 
Any other  summer flowering bulb, corm, tuber or rhizome not listed above, 1 stem
Aquilegia (columbine)  1 stem 
Clematis 1 stem or spray 
Dianthus 3 stems 
Herbs perennial - named - 3 different types – 1 stem of each 
Hosta 3 leaves – different cultivars – small – in exhibitor’s container 
Hosta 3 leaves – different cultivars – medium – exhibitor’s container 
Hosta 3 leaves – different cultivars – large – in exhibitor’s container 
10  Iris Siberian - 1 stalk 
11  Iris Siberian - any cultivar(s) - 3 stalks 
12  Iris bearded – purple – 1 stalk 
13  Iris bearded – any other colour – 1 stalk 
14  Iris any other type - not listed above - 1 stalk 
15  Oriental poppy  1 stem 
16  Pansy or viola 5 stems - in exhibitor's container
17  A collection of garden flowers 3 or more different types in exhibitor's single container
18 Any perennial not listed above - 1 stem
19  Any perennial not listed above - 3 stems 
20  Flowering branch  36" & under  -  in exhibitor’s container 
  
SECTION 2 PEONIES 
21  Peony - herbaceous  single - Japanese or anemone included - 1 stem 
22  Peony - herbaceous  semi-double - 1 stem 
23  Peony - herbaceous  fully double - 1 stem 

SECTION 3 Roses 
24  Hybrid tea  any colour - 1 specimen bloom 
25  Floribunda  1 stem or spray  
26  Grandiflora  1 stem or spray   
27  Miniature  1 stem or spray 
28  Miniature  1 specimen bloom  
29  Miniature  any colour(s) - 3 stems or sprays 
30  Climber  1 spray or lateral 
31  Rose Modern shrub - 1 stem or spray 
32  Rose selected for fragrance - 1 stem or spray 
33  Rose any other cultivar  - 1 stem or spray 
34  Rose miniature  without foliage - floating in exhibitor's clear glass container
35  Rose any other without foliage - floating in exhibitor's clear glass container
    
SECTION 4 FLORAL DESIGN KALEIDOSCOPE 
36  A-tisket a-tasket A design in a basket suitable for a flower girl 
37  A-tisket a-tasket (NOVICE) A design in a basket suitable for a flower girl 
38  Summer Trifle A design 
39  High Society A design incorporating a wine or champagne glass(es) 
40  The Rainbow Crescent design 
41  Ice Cream Extravaganza Modern Mass design 

Everyone is welcome to attend North Toronto meetings as a guest.  Just introduce yourself at the door and we will be sure to show you around.  

See you all at the June meeting.  Until then, happy gardening.


Monday, 28 May 2012

Discover "Through the Garden Gate"


by Margaret Bennet-Alder

Who ever would have thought that there could be a 3 1/2 acre private garden in the heart of Toronto? Well there is one and it's on table land, unlike so many large Toronto gardens on ravines. You can see this garden, wander around it, marvel at its beauty and think about the upkeep required. You can do all this on the Toronto Botanical Garden's 25th Anniversary Tour, Through the Garden Gate. 

Twenty-one resplendent gardens are yours  to visit and explore in Rosedale on Saturday, June 9 and on Sunday June 10 from 11 to 4pm. 

Six are in the south in the Cluny Drive area, an easy walk from each other, the Rosedale Subway and the Tour Headquarters at Rosedale Junior Public School. Free shuttle buses can pick you up at the subway, stop along the way and also take you north over the bridge to the 16 gardens on the Glen Road Route.

Buy your ticket early at torontobotanicalgarden.ca. With your wristband you can get the Garden Guide with centrefold map and full description of each garden. Guides are now available at the TBG shop and by 10am on tour days at the Tour Headquarters. They give you a heads-up of where the gardens are, so you won't be overwhelmed on the day of the tour as you try to get your bearings and decide where to go, let alone know what to look for in each garden. Or you may decide to just go with the flow.

A garden on the "Through the Garden Gate" tour

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Everything is Blooming at Loblaws


by Margaret Bennet-Alder

If you didn't get your heart's desire at our May plant sale, consider the ones in Loblaws as of Friday, May 11.  Garden writers previewed these at Loblaws' media lunch at the TBG in early May. While awaiting our meal Peter Cantley, Loblaws' gardening guru of 28 years, introduced us to their 2012 pristine plants. Although sourced from around the world, all are acclimatised by Canadian growers and made ready for our May temperatures. After the meal we were invited to take some home to trial.

PC Tropicals Hibiscus Tricolour


Do you love tropicals?  How about three plants growing together with intertwining trunks: mandevilla, gardenia, and hibiscus! Only at Loblaws. I saw one of my favourite garden writers carrying out this tall plant for his indoor winter garden.


Haskap Berries

Would you like shrubs bearing fruit earlier than strawberries and with more antioxidants than blueberries? Consider the hardy Haskap berry, a cross between blueberry, a raspberry and a Saskatoon berry.  Buy two Shrubs to ensure cross-pollination.  They need full sun, so I'll have to plant mine on my city-owned! sunny boulevard.  These very hardy 1-2 meter plants will bear fruit next year.

PC Gigantico Wasabi Coleus

Other plants that caught my fancy, but that I didn't necessarily bring home: Wasabi Green Coleus, a lovely chartreuse.
PC Super Gigantico Calliope Geranium

Calliope, a big red geranium. It tries to set seed, but can't. Ever hopeful it produces big red blooms all summer.

Kwik Combos Burgundy Blues

The Lanai Verbena, Twister Pink, is part of a Kwik Kombo exclusive to Loblaws. The two-toned pink and white flowers combined with burgundy petunias and blue lobelia, all in one ball, are a quick-to-make eye-catching window box or planter.

Dahlia Dahlinova Hypnotica Cotton Candy

Dahlia Dahlinova Hypnotica Cotton Candy, is an abundant big bloomer with purply mauve petals outside and a hint of yellow inside.

Honey Bee Petunia

If your taste tends toward orange and even black, check out these dazzlers featuring the New Honey Bee Petunia:

Bee Happy Confetti Garden

Solar-Powered Illuminated Planter

These were my favourite containers and solar-powered, but I wasn't quick enough to take one home. Darn! Lovely in the evening, they can be filled with ice and bottled drinks. Choose a white glow or seven alternating colours for pizzaz. I guess if I really want one, I'll just have to buy it at Loblaws but first where will I put it?

Our own Dorothea Thompson will be giving horticultural advice for Loblaws on Saturdays and Sundays during May and June at their Bayview and Moore supermarket.  In this capacity she is one of the longest-serving members of an OHA society. For her horticultural expertise, North Toronto and the OHA each receive $50 from Loblaws; likewise for other participating OHA societies.

For more of their well-chosen and cared for plants, many unique to Loblaws, see their colourful PC Lawn & Garden Insider's Report, available until June 8; plants until early July. All in all Loblaws is showcasing more than 50 different plants, as well as soils, fertilizers, and containers, with their banner store garden centres having the most choice.

Go early in the season for the best choice and late in the season for the best price.





Thursday, 10 May 2012

Garden Bang for Your Buck: May Meeting

Kate Seaver
The May meeting was a lesson in how to get real garden bang for your buck, and in more ways than one.

First, our guest speaker Kate Seaver showed members how to turn $30 worth of grocery store flowers into five different arrangements. She also shared some great advice on how to make your flowers last longer. You can start by getting the freshest flowers possible. Did you know, for example, that most flowers in the GTA are shipped on Wednesdays? If you need fresh flowers, you'll get the freshest selection on a Thursday.

Before you begin designing your arrangement be sure to condition your flowers. This will make them last even longer. Here are a few of Kate's conditioning tips:

#1. Get your flowers into lukewarm water right away. Don't leave them on the kitchen counter. For every 15 minutes out of water, you will lose a day of flower life. Let your flowers drink.  Lukewarm water is best for oxygenating the flower head.

#2. Get rid of excess foliage. Foliage robs the flower of nutrients. Make sure no foliage sits below the water line in your vase. Foliage in water decays rapidly creating bacteria that will shorten the life span of your blooms.

#3. Give every stem a slanted cut. This helps each stem absorb more water. If you can, cut your stems under water.  This reduces the chance of air bubbles. Be sure to reserve a special set of shears just for this job and keep them clean.  Again, this reduces the risk of introducing bacteria that can shorten the life of a bloom.  

#4. Use floral food. Floral food is essentially a mix of bleach and sugar.  The bleach keeps the water clean.  The sugar feeds the flower.

#5. Change the water and floral food and re-cut stems on an angle every two days to extend the life of your blooms.

Thanks to Kate for her excellent advice and her most enjoyable presentation.  If you'd like to learn more, be sure to visit the Kate's Garden website for information on workshops.

An inside-out arrangement by Kate Seaver

After the presentation, it was time for our much-anticipated North Toronto Horticultural Society Annual Plant and Garage Sale.  This event is always an excellent opportunity to get great plant selections at great prices. Several fern-leaf peonies were snapped up at the bargain price of just $20.  They sell for double that at some larger garden centres.  

Members check out the wide selection of plants
Rocky Mei is all smiles over his new plants

The Plant and Garage Sale is our biggest fundraiser of the year.  Proceeds help the North Toronto Horticultural Society cover costs including space rentals and speaker fees.  Thank you to everyone who donated a plant or garage sale item and to everyone who came out to the sale.  A special thank you as well to the Plant & Garage Sale team who organized such a successful event.  Both our speaker and our sale helped members stretch their garden dollar just a little further.

Coming up on June 12, 2012:  Conquering Your Container Conundrums with guest speaker Margot Parker followed by the June Flower Show, one of the biggest and best of the year.  Check back soon for more details of this exciting night.

Until then, happy gardening.