Loblaw’s – A Sneak Preview

by Veronica on May 10, 2010

Positively Perfect Plant Preview

Every year Loblaw’s hosts a sneak preview of their Lawn and Garden products for the media. This year we visited 2 of their top suppliers, Linwell Gardens for annuals and Freeman Herbs for herbs, of course.

Both these growers are family run businesses who take pride in their operation. The proof is in the quality of the plants. The greenhouses are immaculate. The nursery stock is superb. These growers are the reason that Loblaw’s continues to set itself apart from other “box” stores who market garden products.

Acres of Floral Heaven

I used to be a petunia snob. Translate…not in my garden please! I thought them to be common and old fashioned. I’ve changed my mind. I love the riot of colour that can be counted on for the whole growing season and I love their fragrance, especially in the evening. At Linwell there was a fire engine red one that would perfectly match my front door. I have to have it.

Bedding Plants at Linwell Gardens

The lime green in the photo are President’s Choice Gigantico Ipomea Sweet Georgia. We were assured that this variety is unlike other Sweet Potato Vines. This one behaves itself in a planter unlike most other varieties which tend to be thugs and take over.

I think this honey of a plant would make a great companion for my fire engine red petunias. It’s on my must-have list.

Water, Water Everywhere

Water Garden

I was impressed with what I think is a unique niche product that is going to do very well for Loblaw’s this year. Frank Ferragine introduced a little water garden in a 16-inch container. It held a water lily, two marginal plants  and an oxygenator plant.

So, cute and perfect for small spaces.

The only thing left to add is a goldfish. Accessorize with a kid. Kids love water and goldfish.

Chef’s Choice

Herbs de Provence

Growing your own food is gaining momentum these days and is the largest growing segment of the gardening market. You don’t need acreage to do it either. Loblaw’s featured themed herb pots grown by Freeman Herbs that make it easy for culinary adventurers.

I love making a nice French Pistou soup. The idea of being able to snip a few fresh Herbs de Provence is irresistible .

Other themes such as Asian and Mediterranean combos make it easy to experiment.


Dog Strangling Vine – A Plant to Kill

by Veronica on May 6, 2010

Dog Strangling Vine - a real thug

I feel like ranting.

I hate this plant.

I first encountered this vigorous vine a few years ago growing in a wooded area in a previous property we owned. There was tons of it. I had no idea what it was.

I have since found out it is called “Dog Strangling Vine (Cynanchum rossicum), though it is  harmless to dogs.  It gets  its name from its Latin species name, cynancho which is Greek for dog.

This is one  invasive thug of a plant  and grows anywhere happily. Once established it chokes everything out.  Unfortunately, it is trying to find a home on my new property. Everywhere I look the bloody thing is there.

It’s tough to get rid of. The roots are short, numerous and pulling the plant out just breaks the roots off causing the plant to spread like the crazy. They (the so-called weed experts at Agriculture Canada) say the  best way to get rid of DVS is to dig it up and keep on digging and digging until you weaken the roots so much that the pesky plant succumbs.

See the little ugly brown flowers?

And, do not let the plant go to seed after it flowers (they are ugly anyway) in June. It seeds itself with great abandon.

So  my newest hobby involves killing plants…


The Guild Inn

by Veronica on May 5, 2010

I grew up in Guildwood Village, a lovely little enclave in east Scarborough, Ontario. The Guild Inn, built in 1914 on top of the Scarborough Bluffs was the centrepiece of this neighbourhood. From the time I was a young child to when I left home as a young adult, I loved to wander the gardens. Last year I moved back to the old neighborhood after an absence of  40 years.  I can visit a lot more often now. But things have changed.

A grand lady in a dilapatated state

The story of  “the Guild” is both romantic and tragic. Rosa and Spencer Clark bought the property in 1932 and turned it into the Guild Of All Arts, a residence where in exchange for room and board, talented artists created and displayed their works on the property.

In the early 40s the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service were housed at the Guild,  followed by the  government turning it into a place where returning war veterans went to recuperate. In 1947 it became the Guild Inn once again, and for the next 35 years, the Clarks amassed a huge collection of art work including many ornate architectural fragments from Ontario buildings. These bits and pieces of buildings were sold to the Province of Ontario in 1978. In 1996 the City of Toronto took over stewardship of the Guild and its artifacts.  The hotel was closed in 2001 and the city approved the demolition of the building in January 2009.

A piece of the past

Crab apples in bloom with architectural artifact

Stately gate leading to the Scarborough Bluffs

The border beginning to wake up

What remains is a lovely park in a natural setting dotted with  beautiful and impressive facades. The original perennial border is still there, although I remember it as being much more grand.


What is Better than a Spring Pansy?

A winter pansy of course!
Icicle pansies are planted in the fall…and yes, they look wonderful until the snow flies.  But, I love them right now. They overwinter and are the first thing up in my garden. Right now I have a dozen plants that are lush and full and look like they [...]

Read the full article → April 23, 2010 by Veronica

When Science and Nature Meet

Last week I was in downtown Toronto wandering through the concrete jungle looking for signs of life, non-human that is, in the form of plants. What a pleasant surprise to find what looked like a leafy glade right smack dab in the middle of the enormous “foyer” of  Brookfield Place. Admittedly, I’ve seen far more [...]

Read the full article → April 20, 2010 by Veronica

“There are no Bananas in Havana”

I was in Cuba in mid-March, but not for the beautiful beaches that most Canadians go for. Instead, I took a bus tour of Cuba’s towns and villages hoping to get a feel for the real Cuba…the people and of course the plants.
I spent 4 days in Havana  before realizing that I had not  seen [...]

Read the full article → April 12, 2010 by Veronica

The Cymbids Have Delivered

I was doing a little travelling in February and had to leave my cymbids just when they were showing great promise. Single spikes on three of the plants had grown to about 2 1/2 feet and the little buds were swelling by the day. I hated to leave.
My husband who is a very reluctant gardener [...]

Read the full article → February 27, 2010 by Veronica

The Bargain Cymbids are about to Deliver

Back in March I wrote about snagging a few cymbidium orchids at Home Depot at a bargain basement price. True, they didn’t look good…some would say dead. My guess is another day or two and they were headed for the dumpster behind the plaza (hence the deep discounted price tag).
Although I’m not an orchid expert, [...]

Read the full article → January 8, 2010 by Veronica

Hong Kong…naturally

This past summer I spent 5 days in Hong Kong. I didn’t go for the shopping like most tourists do. Though, if I had been able to stay longer I’d certainly have been eager to immerse myself in some retail therapy. But, with a limited amount of time I wanted to see if there was [...]

Read the full article → January 4, 2010 by Veronica

Allan Gardens…a chance to come in out of the cold!

New Year’s day 2010 has come and gone, it’s minus 16 Celsius, I have a little cold and I’m semi-miserable (I usually have a sunny personality). My man (who is very wise) agreed take me out of my misery and transport me to a place that always lifts my spirits and hence is sure to [...]

Read the full article → January 2, 2010 by Veronica