If you think your street is the best “garden street” in Canada there is an opportunity to win that title for 2014. Mark Cullen discusses how that is possible in this week’s column.
Think about this: here in Canada there is a National Ice Cream Day [the third Sunday in July] and a National Blueberry Muffin Day [July 11]. Isn't it time to celebrate our horticultural heritage with National Garden Days? The answer, clearly, is 'yes.'
On April 8 of this year, a private members’ bill was passed in Ottawa that establishes National Garden Days as the three days of Father’s Day weekend, including the Friday. M.P. Malcolm Allen of Welland, Ontario, proposed the bill. As a representative from the Niagara fruit and wine belt, he is closely connected to the world of agriculture and [I might add] a thriving industry of nursery stock production.
"National Garden Day[s] is an opportunity for gardening enthusiasts, families and schools to share their knowledge and passion for gardening and the outdoors," said Allan. "Canadians could enjoy their home gardens or favourite community garden, visit their local garden retailer or travel to other communities to experience gardens there."
The idea is to sequester a weekend for the purpose of raising Canadian awareness to the benefits of both working in and viewing the great gardens that we have here.
The next logical question might be, “So, what? How is a designated weekend going to spark a greater interest in gardening?"
So glad you asked! You can hear the executive director of the Canadian Garden Council respond breathlessly. Michel Gauthier has been working hard behind the scenes creating the perfect horticultural storm.
"I realized that we do not take the time to acknowledge the importance of gardens as they relate to our wellbeing. National Garden Days provide the perfect opportunity for all of us to celebrate the role that gardens and gardening play in our lives. We need this opportunity to promote the social, economic and environmental benefits of gardens."
Canada's best garden street
To help kick things off, the Canadian Garden Council is sponsoring a contest to find 'Canada's Best Garden Street.' Here is how it works: in 150 words or less explain why your street, road or avenue is Canada's best garden street. Explain how gardens, private and/or public, contribute to the quality of life on your street and in your neighbourhood. Be sure to include pictures. A letter of endorsement from your local Member of Parliament, your Communities in Bloom committee, or the local horticultural club will not hurt your chances.
If your street is awarded this honour you will win: The ‘bragging rights’ of being named Canada’s 2014 ‘Best Garden Street’ and $1,000 worth of Mark’s Choice Lawn and Garden products from Home Hardware. Details at www.markcullen.com and www.gardendays.ca.
I am pleased to be named the 'national spokesperson' for this new endeavour and I am delighted that my friend and fellow garden writer, Larry Hodgson, is the Quebec rep. He says, "There are extraordinary gardens in Canada, in all regions, and they really are worth discovering. By becoming a spokesperson for Garden Days, I hope to help further stimulate more people to go out and visit the beautiful gardens of Canada." He should know something about it: he has been writing and broadcasting the gardening message for longer than I have. And that is saying something.
It is time that we stopped for a moment to observe and absorb the many great gardens that we enjoy and reflect on their national significance. National Garden Days is a new idea that that has been sown on fertile soil. I have no doubt that the ideas and principles behind the concept will sprout and grow into national significance over time. And the sooner the better.
Special note regarding impatiens: According to my research, downy mildew is an issue in every part of Canada, but based on reports from some readers the devastation is not everywhere. More accurately it did not devastate impatiens everywhere in Canada last year. But we do know that it is coming. I would warn anyone that is planting impatiens this spring that downy mildew MAY be a problem come mid-summer. When it hits, you will know, as your impatiens plants will collapse in a matter of days.
Credit line: “Mark Cullen appears on Canada AM every Wednesday morning at 8:40. He is spokesperson for Home Hardware Lawn and Garden. Sign up for his free monthly newsletter at www.markcullen.com.”