October 13, 2010

Anna Pavord at Canada Blooms

(Photos - Canada Blooms, March 21, 2010)

I had the great pleasure of meeting garden writer Anna Pavord this year at Canada Blooms. What a sweat heart! No wonder Martha Stewart is crazy about her.

Anna Pavord

I already had Anna's book, Tulip, which is a mammoth volume on the history of the world's favourite flowering bulb. In her new book, Bulb, Anna broadens her scope with practical information on practically every ornamental bulb you could hope to have.

It is a delightful and useful reference book. Before you spend the money on garden plants, buy a book that will last a lifetime and help you make better choices with your bulb selections.

I met her with her publicist, Tracey Boisvert, and I took them on a tour of the show. I tried to introduce her to some local garden industry people. Everybody who knew she was there wanted a piece of her. It turns out that this quiet, unassuming, and charming woman is quite the international celebrity!

Eventually we sat down to take a good look at her new book.

Dugald Cameron and Anna Pavord

Here is an email interview I had with her a couple of months later.

Mark ⇒ How are things growing in your garden? How was the move from clay to sand?

Anna ⇒ Things are growing beautifully. Wonderful lilies this summer (though a long-drawn out fight against lily beetle - a new pest here, spreading rapidly). The move from clay to sand was heaven. Bulbs love their new growing space - well-drained and south-facing. What more could they (or I) ask?

Lorraine Pigeon, Anna Pavord, Lorraine Flanigan, and Dugald Cameron

What bulb do you think everyone should be growing? (What is good for beginners?)

Everyone should grow narcissus. They are such a joy to see after a long, locked-in winter.

Anna Pavord and Tracey Boisvert

What (bulb) will you be getting this fall? (Sometimes we can get really excited about something we have just learned about. Is there a new bulb or plant that is exciting you this year or this fall?)

I get more and more excited by new iris. This year (from Avon Bulbs) I am getting two kinds of English iris. They grow from bulbs like Dutch iris but flower a bit later, which is useful, and come in wonderful dark inky blues, which the Dutch iris can't match. I used to grow quite a lot of English iris. Then they disappeared from catalogues and have only just come back.

Are you ordering both varieties of the English iris, 'King of the Blues' and 'Mont Blonc'? I love the German rebloomers but iris borer is such a problem here. I purchased some Iris spuria cultivars hoping they may be less trouble like the Siberians.

Yes. I've ordered both. I'm growing quite a few of the spurias too. The tall foliage is good and stays clean, unlike that of the bearded iris, which always gets rust. The flowers come later too. It's not quite hot enough for them over here, but I'm glad to have them.

Bulb by Anna Pavord

What did you think about Canada Blooms?

I thought Canada blooms was fantastic. I had a wonderful day there, which I shan't forget. It was good to see so many excellent bulbs on sale.

Bulb by Anna Pavord
Bulb by Anna Pavord

Are there memories that stand out about your book tour? (A favourite city or event?)

I thoroughly enjoyed being in Toronto as I had great food and enough time off (a rare event) to walk around the city on a well signposted green route. I also, at a hairdresser near the hotel, had the best head massage I've ever had in my life!

What is next for you? Will you be lecturing at any big garden shows?

I have just returned from Edinburgh where I was asked to give the opening lecture at the start of the big new show at the National Gallery there. It's called Impressionist Gardens and is a wonderful exhibition of garden paintings by Impressionists such as Monet, Degas, Renoir and the rest. I have just broken my leg so getting up to Edinburgh was complicated. I shall remember it as the first (I hope also the last) talk I've ever given from a wheelchair.

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If you are hosting a garden related event in the GTA and would like it covered in gardentoronto.ca or would like to place an e-poster about it on our Events Calendar, just contact me. I am always delighted to promote anything gardening in Toronto.

Mark Disero

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