City dwellers with a green thumb are often frustrated by the lack of growing space at their disposal, yet they still crave the beauty and wellness benefits of gardening.
As studies have shown, tending to your own – even small – patch of earth is linked to a wide range of positive health outcomes, including reduced depression and anxiety, a lower body-mass index, increased quality of life and a greater sense of community. So while you may not have the room for a Versailles-scale refuge, there are still ways to transform even the smallest condo balcony into a restorative botanical oasis.
David Turnbull is the horticultural director at Canada Blooms, a gardening and flower festival held annually in Toronto since 1996. He suggests taking stock before you start planting seeds by first considering your garden’s viewing perspective. “Is the view for you from the inside of your condo or apartment, from the outside when enjoying your space, or for someone from the outside of your property?” Turnbull says.
Your answer will inform your final design, as well as address any privacy issues, a common concern in tight urban quarters. “You may want to install some basic screens to provide some seclusion via bamboo stems, folding walls or other types of metal or wood screens,” says Turnbull.
The next step is choosing planters that maximize and beautify your space. Turnbull suggests incorporating a variety of pots that appeal to you, but recommends keeping to no more than three different shapes and colours, as such simplicity can be visually relaxing. “There is therapy in being able to follow a pattern of design,” he says.
There is, however, no need to limit where you find your selection of home-garden accesories. “You can get creative with containers you may find at thrift stores, and if they’re not waterproof, you can seal them with a plastic liner.”
Choosing the plants to best fit to your pots depends on climate and sun exposure, and Turnbull recommends a mix of drought-tolerant succulents as a good starting point. He also suggests using aloe as the dominant plant, due to its large size, and add in things such as agave, sempervivum and sedum. “Mix up types, colours, sizes and have fun,” he says.
For a more traditional floral garden, Turnbull says flowering perennials thrive in potted environments. Some of his top flower picks include asclepias, or butterfly weed, which will be a food source for bees and butterflies, some poppies for intense colour and lavender for its aroma. Add in some comfortable, weatherproof seating and settle in for the next four months of patio season.
From May 31 to June 3, Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto (IFWTO), a festival of the country’s significant Indigenous-made fashion, craft and textiles, lands at Harbourfront Centre. In addition to fashion presentations, more than 40 exhibitors will showcase their work at a trade and consumer marketplace on June 2 and 3. For more information, visit ifwtoronto.com.
Toronto’s Yorkville Village is celebrating Italian Heritage Month with 60 Years of Made in Italy, a travelling fashion and design exhibition on display throughout the month of June. Presented in partnership with the Consulate General of Italy and the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, it pays homage to Italy’s most famous fashion houses including Prada, Valentino, Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo and Gucci. For more information, visit yorkvillevillage.com.
Toronto-based brand OneMeth has partnered with MTV on a capsule collection celebrating the relationship between music and fashion, with elements of sound and style taken from the years between 1981, when MTV was founded, and present day. Find the collection at a pop-up space at 277 Queen St. W. in Toronto until June 18. For more information, visit onemeth.com.
Department store Nordstrom is appealing to foodies with Eats More, the latest initiative in its Pop-In@Nordstrom series. Curated by Olivia Kim, VP of creative projects, Eats More highlights cooking essentials, appliances, dining décor and food, both on the Nordstrom website and and at its downtown Toronto and Vancouver locations. The focus will be on items from such notable lifestyle brands as Staub, Goop and Sandoval, until July 8. For more information, visit nordstrom.com.
Vancouver’s sneaker heads have a new place to get their footwear fix. Grail is a 3,100-square-foot concept shop located at 2867 Granville St. which will stock brands for casual and serious footwear fans alike, including Vans and Puma. For more information, visit grailshop.ca.