Allan Gardens Christmas Flower Show 2013

evergreen-wreath-apples-bows

When December in the city is gloomy, there’s no snow on the ground, and the sun disappears at four o’clock, Allan Gardens is a favourite winter destination. The Christmas Flower Show at Allan Gardens Conservatory does more than get you in the holiday mood. As soon as you walk in the door, the scent of flowers and thousands of growing things soothes your spirit. As you walk through the winding paths, a non-stop display of greenery and flowers unfolds. 

Poinsettias and other greenery at Allan Gardens.

Poinsettias and other greenery at Allan Gardens.

Right now, the show boasts a sea of poinsettias, massed in bands of colour: pinks, white, scarlet red and deep wine. I’ve ever seen so many poinsettias in one location, there are absolute rivers of them. If you’ve ever been underwhelmed by a single “office poinsettia” in a pot, do yourself the favour of experiencing them this way:  They’re really at their best in this kind of abundance.

Pink cyclamen, scarlet fuchsia, and orange solanum pseudocapiscum

Pink cyclamen, scarlet fuchsia, and orange solanum pseudocapiscum

Other seasonal flowers brighten the space too. Delicate white, pink and red cyclamen flowers shimmer over whorls of patterned leaves. Paperwhite narcissus flowers perfume the air. Tiny orange globes of Solanum pseudo capsicum make an unexpected colour contrast with the pinks and reds. The way the floral designers combine plants is constantly surprising. I kept finding new colour and texture combinations everywhere I looked. 

Topiaries and obelisks in Victorian themes, and evening candlelight add to the charm of the show. In the main palm room, a special display of green people sporting gorgeous duds made of succulents and moss stand next to a grand piano. Come often, every time you visit it’s likely to be a bit different, with new plant varieties coming into bloom. Admission is free. The show runs till January 12th.

 



The Royal Winter Fair Starts Today

Piled squash with labels, just a peek at the food bounty at the Royal.

Piled squash with labels, just a peek at the food bounty at the Royal.

Today is the first day of the Royal Winter Fair, showing off Canada’s agricultural excellence. It’s more than just a horse competition, (although the horses are fantastic) this year the focus is on food, For the Love of Food, especially of the local variety, with lots of activities for kids and adults alike. It’s a perfect family destination for its 10 day run. For kids, there is the petting zoo, a playground (and rest area for parents) called Ag-tivity Central, and a really cool looking interactive exhibit called the aMAZEing Food Journey, showing how food travels from farm to table, with gigantic hanging vegetables at the entrance.

Continue »



Spend 30 Minutes in Nature, Every Day

Nature in the city is as close as your nearest park, or even a tree lined street.

David Suzuki is challenging us to mindfully spend 30 minutes every day in June to boost your brain and overall health, with his 30 X 30 Challenge. Trade that indoor treadmill for a path through a park. Eat your lunch outside instead of in front of the computer. Go outside with your kids and blow bubbles in the backyard.

Nature is the best medicine. A growing body of evidence has shown us that getting out into nature can reduce stress and boost your immunity. And experts say that exercising in natural settings is exercise squared — increasing your energy level and fitness.

The David Suzuki Foundation is adding to the challenge by asking for pictures and updates for anyone who is involved in the pledge, plus offering a $600 prize to sweeten the deal. It takes about 21 days to create a new habit in your life, and if you need a push towards better health and well being, sign up.



Garden, Art & Food Merge at Eigensinn Farm

I was lucky to attend a preview of The Singhampton Project—an intriguing food, art and garden extravaganza planned for August at Michael Stadtländer’s Eigensinn Farm outside of Toronto. (Eigensinn in German means ”single-mindedness” or ”obstinacy’) The farm is a completely surprising mix of the rustic, slightly odd, enchanting and practical. The rustic is a collection of seating and dining areas dotted throughout the property made entirely of reclaimed wood and pallets, the slightly odd is a massive barbeque sprouting antlers, and a grassy laneway festooned with long borders of countless wine bottles on either side. That’s a lot of wine. The enchanting is the mix of reclaimed pottery and rusted farm implements making up the sculptures, and outdoor cooking devices.  The practical is the tossed oyster shells on the roof of the dubbed Oyster Temple of Love, fat tree trunk stools in a wooded glen, a completely functioning kitchen with a wood fire in the middle of a forest, and simple boards and shells as serving dishes.

Continue »



3 Proofs of Coming Spring

tulips

This graceful bi-coloured Lily-flowered tulip is variety "Synaeda King".

If you are feeling as February-bedraggled as I am, these spring indicators may perk you up a bit: they tell us it won’t be much longer before we re-enter the world of Sweater Weather. 14C anyone? Even that sounds like luxury!

1. We are MORE than half way through February. It’s given us the worst this year, wind-chills and deep freezes followed by thaws, creating a icy, rippled-snow moonscape for us to pick our way through. All in all, a precarious mess. (Consider investing in a pair of traction enhancers like YakTrax for safety if you do a lot of walking about.) A good part of the worst is behind us, never to be repeated this year. Unless March is just as bad. Forget I said that!

Continue »