Gearing up for spring with gardening shows – Waterloo Record

Waterloo Region Record

I’m sure the depth of snow this winter correlates directly to the pent up desire of gardeners to see something, anything, green. I know I do because, after a couple of weeks of the Olympics, snow blindness is setting in. Fortunately, relief is in sight with garden shows promising a return to colour are coming up fast.

Next Thursday is the start of the Stratford Garden Festival, the fourteenth year already, and I don’t believe I’ve missed a single one. It runs from Feb. 27 through March 2 at the Stratford Rotary Complex, and I don’t plan to miss this one, either.

The theme this year is Beyond the Garden Gate, captured in an image by artist Lasha Mutual that has inspired designers to create eight beautiful display gardens that will entice visitors to discover what secrets lay beyond the garden gate.

There’s always something new to see at the show, and always plenty to buy. I usually pick up a few seeds and summer flowering bulbs, but I’ve run out of space for garden statuary, so I won’t be coming home with gnomes or anything else that won’t grow. I don’t sit much, even though I have benches, so I don’t need a new one.

My tool shed is fully equipped, too, and that means those nifty new pruners, trowels and hoes will have to stay at the show, unless I have a weak moment, and the atmosphere at a garden show does have a way of inducing those moments. The challenge will be coming home without something from a marketplace filled with enough to satisfy every garden need.

It might be the perfect place for garden shopping at this time of year, and I love the fact that it’s such a short drive away, but there’s also a strong lineup of great speakers with informative, entertaining topics.

If your water bill for summer is higher than your gas bill, you won’t want to miss Water-wise Gardening with Paul Zammit, Friday at 12:30 p.m. He’s a delight whatever he’s talking about.

If you’re planning to add ornamental grasses in your garden, I recommend taking in the presentation that follows by expert Martin Quinn.

On Saturday morning Frank Ferragine (a.k.a. “Frankie Flowers”) of Breakfast Television will reveal his top ten plants you can grow for your health, and at lunchtime, Garden Making Magazine’s Beckie Fox will be there to help you with a presentation called Plant and Design Ideas for Beautiful Efficient Landscapes.

These are just a few of the learning opportunities at the show. Check out the website for a complete schedule:

The show will be held at the Stratford Rotary Complex, 353 McCarthy Rd., Stratford. Hours are Thursday, noon to 5 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $9 at the door; children 12 and under free.

If you can’t wait that long for snow relief and really need a head start on spring, there may still be last-minute tickets available for Guelph and Wellington County Master Gardeners 18th annual A Day in the Garden event. It takes place tomorrow, Sunday, at the Victoria Park East Golf Club in Guelph, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

For $45 you’ll get a great lunch, see demonstrations, have a chance to buy stuff, and hear expert speakers Frank Kershaw, Sean James, and Robert Pavlis. They’ll be speaking on lesser known perennials, small urban garden design, and English cottage gardens. To register call the Master Gardener hotline at 519-824-4120 ext. 56714 or e-mail

David Hobson gardens in Waterloo and is happy to answer garden questions, preferably by email: . Reach him by mail c/o Etcetera, The Record, 160 King St. E. Kitchener, Ont. N2G 4E5.


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