It's Still Just Dirt

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Penny Esseltine - It's Still Just Dirt

Garden festival season is coming up in our part of Ontario. First off the block is the Stratford Garden Festival which runs from March 5-8. Last year it was named the 2014 Festival of the Year by the Canadian Garden Tourism Council, so of course it’s a must see for local gardeners. The theme this year is Blooming Beautiful and that is what you will experience with their display gardens created by area landscape businesses. The event takes place at the Stratford Rotary Complex and you can find directions online at

Among the speakers lined up for Stratford are local favourites Brenda Sutherland and Judy Larkin (Lilies and Daylilies: Eye Candy for Your Garden), Beckie Fox (New Garden? What to do First) and David Hobson (Great Plants: Great Gardens).

David will also speak at the Tillsonburg Horticultural Society’s March 3 meeting and his presentation there is titled Plants to Impress Your Neighbours. Another must see! That’s Tuesday, March 3, starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Senior Centre Auditorium at the Tillsonburg Community Centre. All welcome.

Culture Tillsonburg is celebrating spring with a bus tour to Canada Blooms on Friday, March 20 (the first day of spring). The cost for a ticket is $60 plus HST and for Cultural Improvement Alliance members (which includes Historical Society and Horticultural Society members) the cost is $50 plus HST. This includes a ticket for the show plus the coach ride.

Started in 1997, Canada Blooms is Canada’s premier garden festival and altogether it runs from March 13 through March 22, this year at the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place in Toronto. Let’s Play is the focus for Canada Blooms and among the feature garden designs competing for space at the show are ones with themes like Pollinator Playground, Backyard Sanctuary, Tic-Tac-Toe, Outdoor Exercise Garden, and Fairy Frolic.

Well-known gardening speakers at the show include Mark Cullen, Denis Flanagan, and Frank Ferragine (aka Frankie Flowers). Speaker presentations are scheduled most days between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and for a complete schedule visit

In London on April 18 there’s a Carolinian Canada event called Go Wild Grow Wild with workshops, speakers and special exhibits for those who consider themselves native plant gardeners or birders, adventurers, backyard gardeners, seed savers - things like that. It’s at the Agriplex Arena in the Western Fair District. Workshop and speaker information is still being confirmed but for additional information you can visit

I’m writing this column on a day when snow is all around - filling backyards, front yards, sidewalks, and roadways. Temperatures (with the windchill factor) are expected to sink to minus 35 degrees. It’s hard to imagine that on the other side of winter, spring waits. Then we will be able to take our personal garden festival experiences and put them to work in our own gardening spaces. Hurrah!

The Tillsonburg Horticultural Society meets the first Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. in the Senior Centre Auditorium at the Tillsonburg Community Centre. An annual membership in our group costs $15 and comes with a number of great benefits (like a $10 discount on the Culture Tillsonburg Canada Blooms bus excursion). Check us out on line at


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