By Mary FRAN McQUADE
Usually, right around now, gardeners would be thinking about what we want to grow this year. But nothing’s usual about this March and April of 2020.
Garden centres and nurseries are closed for in-person visits. They aren’t included on the list of essential businesses the province released on March 24.
But many plant/seed sources are still taking orders by phone, e-mail and online. And if you need a lift while you’re self-distancing, I’ve rounded up a few websites where you can indulge your garden craving.
Note that while COVID-19 is around, things change quickly. This info was correct as of March 25. Please, everyone in the gardening business is scrambling right now, so try contacting them online first.
Here are some suggestions for Toronto:
East End Garden Centre, is right here in the neighbourhood at Queen Street East and Greenwood Avenue. They’ve locked their doors to protect the health of their staff and customers, but they’ll happily take your phone order and deliver all kinds of soil, fertilizer, mulch, seeds and selected plants. No website, but their Facebook page has photos of what they have in stock. Call 416-469-4925 or direct message through Facebook.
Beachwood Flower Shop, near Queen Street East and Woodbine Avenue, is taking orders for delivery of flowers and small container plantings. (Their tabletop plantings of mixed spring bulbs are fabulous – and you can take them apart and plant them outside when the flowers fade.) Phone 416-416-691-8185.
Plants in the City is a new business here in Toronto offering online ordering of perennials – including a great selection of native plants. They’re also considering expanding their selection to include started vegetables. They can be reached at www.plantsinthecity.ca, e-mail email@example.com, or phone at 647-893-7946.
Here are some suggestions farther afield:
Botanus is a premium online nursery selling perennials, roses and bulbs for summer and fall planting. Local gardener and textile artist Lucille Crighton tells me, “The plants and bulbs are top quality, and they have some unusual ones that I haven’t seen elsewhere.” Their website and customer service is exceptional, she adds.They can be reached at www.botanus.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 1-800-672-3413.
Canning Perennials features a wide selection of ornamental grasses, hostas, daylilies, clematis and groundcovers in their online catalogue. One gardener friend tells me, “Their selection is excellent, their prices fair and their service outstanding. Each plant I’ve received has been larger than expected and very healthy.” They can be reached at www.canningperennials.com, phone 519-458-4271
OSC has been around for years offering a huge selection of seeds for veggies, herbs, annuals, perennials, native plants, groundcovers and trees. Their online catalogue is amazingly well-organized and informative. They can be reached at www.oscseeds.com , email email@example.com or by phone at 1-800-465-5849.
Richters Herbs has grown from a couple of greenhouses in Pickering to an internationally known business. You can buy seeds and started plants for hundreds of herbs and many veggies from their online catalogue. They also sell herbal oils, dried herbs and books on herbs. They can be reached at www.richtersherbs.com, phone 1-800-668-4372.
Veseys is another old-time catalogue business that’s made the jump to online shopping. Their website includes seeds/plants of vegetables, herbs, fruits, berries and flowers. Also bulbs and even tools and accessories are listed. They can be reached at www.veseys.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 1-800-363-7333.
Just for fun
Longing to visit some gardens while you’re social distancing? Try these:
www.tvo.org/video/documentaries/the-gardener gives you a glorious tour of the famous Les Quatre Vents garden in Quebec. It’s a huge place, designed for personal interest by wealthy garden-lover Frank Cabot, that includes Chinese elements, classic French gardens, woodland gardens and much more.
www.housebeautiful.com/lifestyle/g31746949/gardens-you-can-virtually-tour takes you to five fabulous gardens – including Kew and Giverney – in England, France and the U.S.
www.web.extension.illinois.edu can help if your little ones (Grade 4 suggested) want to have some hands-on fun learning how to garden. The site is called My First Garden and starts with the basics, through to planting and harvesting. Lively writing and plenty of fun pictures make this one a winner. (Created by the University of Illinois Extension department, which offers free online information to the public)