Home and garden shows combine forces

You may as well bring a sleeping bag – there’s so much home and garden stuff going on in March, you won’t want to waste time going home.

This year, two mega-shows – Canada Blooms and the National Home Show – are combining to create North America’s biggest home-plus-garden showcase. The shows run simultaneously for a full 10 days.

One ticket, two shows, promoters say. But don’t expect to see it all in one visit. If you’re really into this field, invest in a two-day pass.

This the first time the two events have joined forces, and some garden purists are sceptical of the outcome. Organizers deliberately avoid the M (for ‘merger’) word, instead calling it a “co-location” that benefits show-goers.

Keeping live plants fresh through the longer run will be a new challenge for Canada Blooms exhibitors. “They’ll be replacing spring-flowering bulbs half-way through the show,” says Denis Flanagan at Landscape Ontario. “Tuesday evening, a lot of people will be running around. From the beginning we’ve had a back-up plan in place, so there will be extra plants ready to fill in.”

Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place is the place where all the action will be happening. Roughly speaking, the home show will fill the centre and eastern parts of the building, with the Dream Home set off in the northern extension. Canada Blooms display gardens and floral/horticultural displays will be found at the west end of the building. The Heritage Court, between the two shows, will be the site of the Blooms Marketplace.

Each show has its own lineup of speakers on subjects ranging from bathroom renos and home styling tips to herb growing and container planting. Major speakers from both shows are sharing time on the big celebrity stage.

Experts appearing for the National Home Show include:
• Michael Upshaw and the Dream Home team, speaking on this year’s super-innovative Dream Home
• Bryan Baeumler (of Disaster DIY)
• Celebrity designer Glen Peloso on living large in a small space
• Lifestyle expert Janette Ewen with style tips for your home
• Designer Yanic Simard on successful bathroom design renos

The Dream Home is always a highlight of the home show. This year’s version, called R-House, focuses on today’s hot topics: energy efficiency, sustainable luxury and the latest home-building technology.

Visitors can also get up close and personal with contractors at the Destination Renovation hub and with interior designers at the What’s Your Design Dilemma centre.

At Canada Blooms, large and small feature gardens created by top designers are the ‘wow’ factor. There’s also a children’s activity garden and play area, and Juno rock gardens interpreting the personal styles of Jann Arden, Feist, Kesha Chante and Sarah Slean/ Royal Wood.

First-timers shouldn’t miss the morning orientation sessions by Mark Cullen and Denis Flanagan. Others appearing on the big stage include Frank Ferragine (TV’s ‘Frankie Flowers’), garden expert and broadcaster Charlie Dobbin, Marjorie Mason of Mason House Gardens and Paul Zammit of the Toronto Botanical Garden.

Smaller meeting room sessions will cover subjects such as easy-care native plants, roses, invasive plants, herbs and lots more.

There’s lots more, but I’m already tired. Wear comfy walking shoes and bring your camera, water, and money – there’s lots to buy, from fridges to ferns!

For more info or to purchase tickets visit canadablooms.com  or nationalhomeshow.com.

Mary Fran McQuade is a hobby gardener and freelance writer.

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