June 7, 2010

Canada Blooms 2010 Opening Night Gala

March 16, 2010

This year, for the first time Canada Blooms was held at the Direct Energy Centre at the Canadian National Exhibition.

Direct Energy Centre

The opening night gala was very different than it used to be. I remember the first ones used to be black tie!

Perhaps one of the main reasons that I found it different was that I was there to do something specific. Usually I just attend to have a good time and socialize. This year I went to photograph interesting people.

Last year the Irish Ambassador attended. There were also national media figures like Seamus O'Regan and Sandie Renaldo. (I actually had a very nice conversation with Sandie last year. She's a dear!) There was also local TV personality, Susan Hay, (also amazingly sweet and down to earth.)

But this year the people were surprisingly different. One of the key differences occurred when they changed the price of the tickets. They used to be around $200.00 with an open bar, but this year they were $75.00 with a cash bar. Makes sense at first glance. Who can drink $125.00 worth of booze in 3 hours? The problem was that the VIPs were given an open bar in a restricted section.

So this year there was an invisible wall between those who have, and those who have not. This prevented the same kind of mixing of people as in the past.

One of the first people I ran into was the Director of Horticulture for the Toronto Botanical Gardens, Paul Zammit, seen below in the TBG garden instillation.

Paul Zammit

Even though, I had purchased my ticket I wanted to get in early to the VIP section, and striding in with Paul through the side entrance allowed me to avoid any problems.

Last year I got in early with “Super Model” Enza. No one is going to block a 6'4" transsexual with a huge camera and a press following.

One thing that I have learned is that if you look like you know what you are doing, and if people want press, then you can get in almost anywhere. PR people are usually there to make your job easy.

I also ran into Colomba Fuller, Canada Blooms Artistic Director.

Colomba Fuller

She showed me her garden design for the show, Forbidden Flora. It told the story of a love triangle. The use of mannequins gave it the impression of retail store windows. I think one of the sponsors was the new perfume 'Flora' by Gucci.

But it was beautiful and far more imaginative than most of the feature gardens. It reminded me of the gardens of South Beach, Miami, but that could be because all of the plant material was tropical.

Below, you can see the VIP section provided by Vincor.

Vincor

While in the bar I ran into Robert Adams, Lee Rozon and Charlie Dobbin. You can listen to Charlie's Garden Radio Show and many others on Saturday mornings at gardenradio.ca.

Robert Adams, Lee Rozon & Charlie Dobbin

It was nice to finally get a good picture of the new Executive Director of the Toronto Botanical Gardens, Aldona Satterthwaite.

Aldona Satterthwaite

We had communicated before but had never met face to face.

Carol Cowen, Sonia Day, Aldona Satterthwaite, & Lorraine Flanigan

There were a lot of garden writers in attendance. Above you can see (from left) Carol Cowan, Sonia Day, Aldona Satterthwaite, and Lorraine Flanigan. Below you can see garden writer and garden radio show host Marjorie Mason. She also has a new association with the Wee Tartan Shop, and you can tell by her skirt.

Marjorie Mason

Two familiar faces from previous shows were Joe Pantalone and Teresa Andaloro (below left). I had a very nice conversation with Teresa once, at the opening of Lord Of The Rings, The Musical. We had both decided we would really like to see Moulin Rouge as a musical stage production.

At last year's gala Joe was the deputy mayor. At this show he is a mayoralty candidate. He will be busy for months!

With them, you can see Laurie and Frankie Ferragine. Frank is a local gardening TV personality, on CITY TV. When are we going to see Laurie on TV?

Joe Pantalone, Teresa Andaloro, Laurie Ferragine & Frank Ferragine

At this point, I decided to venture out of the VIP section, to take a look at the rest of the show. Below you can see a YouTube video that Pick Ontario has posted of Member of Provincial Government and Minister of Agriculture, Carol Mitchell. It should give you a fair idea of what the atmosphere was like.

You can also view photos of the event from BizBash.com.

Below you can see Judith Hoersting and her Garden Writer husband, Jeff Lowenfels. They have a very exciting love story. Not many guys would take a bullet to the neck while protecting their girlfriend!

Judith Hoersting & Jeff Lowenfels

Jeff was at Canada Blooms as part of the lecture series. His book Teaming with Microbes is one that every serious gardener should have. You can't understand how things grow unless you understand the soil.

Teaming With Microbes

You can purchase this book from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.


Peter Guinane

Peter Guinane (above), of Oriole Landscaping, always sets the standard for quality with his feature garden instillations.

I caught Lance Brown (below), local sports anchor, checking out the greenery. I think he was surprised that the topiary was made of mesclun!

Lance Brown

Beth Edney (below) is a woman who deserves more credit than she gets.

Beth Edney

She not only designed the Landscape Ontario Green For Life garden instillation, but she was also instrumental in the creation of the Disney Magical World of Tinker Bell.

Fern Ridge Landscaping entered a garden instillation into the show for the very first time. Below you can see Tim Burt and proprietor, Sean James.

Tim Burt & Sean James

The show isn't entirely about landscaping. Much of it, arguably some of the best of it, is about flowers. There is horticultural and design competitions hosted by the Garden Club of Toronto. International floral design experts came from many parts of the world. Below you can see Ian Buxton, NAFAS, who came all the way from Nottingham England to compete.

Ian Buxton

As I was checking out the commercial area with my friend Laura Grant, we came across Jocelyn Bertand and Alain Johnson of artemisia daylilies. Their booth was fantastic and deserved the Best Booth Award for a space under 100 square feet.

Jocelyn Bertrand, Laura Grant and Alain Johnson

Here you can see Joe, Laura and Al. I think they can feel quite pleased with the way things turned out. Little did they know that in 4 days they would all be meeting Martha Stewart.

Jocelyn Bertrand, Laura Grant and Alain Johnson

When I had finished my tour I returned to the VIP section and found Fabiola Prins and Lorraine Pigeon-Ivanoff. Fabiola and her husband have a cut flower business, Prins Grow Inc, in the Niagara region.

Fabiola Prins & Lorraine Pigeon-Ivanoff

Lorraine brought me to see the New Product showcase that she worked to put together for the show. The set up for the show at the Direct Energy Centre took about a week, and from this night there was about another full week of work to keep the show running smoothly.

Lorraine Pigeon-Ivanoff

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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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