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St.James 48 hr makeover!

8 Dec

From Protest-drab, to central-park chic, St. James has been transformed over the past 48 hours by a fleet of volunteers from Landscape Ontario and the Ontario Sod Growers Association.  You may recall that St.James Park was home to the Occupy Toronto group for 5 weeks which trampled the gardens and lawn, leaving behind a muddy-mess.

With $60,000, over 100 volunteers (+35 Toronto Staff) and 11, 000 square feet of sod, St.James park has never looked more beautiful! As a resident of a condo overlooking this park, I created a short time-lapse video that shows the transformation of St.James Park as OccupyTO grew and the leaves fell throughout November. Check it out!

Thank you volunteers for revitalizing this important city green space!


In Flanders Fields… the stoic poppy grows

11 Nov

Poppies (the plastic version) are everywhere today in support  of our fallen heroes and stoic veterans.  These lipstick colour badges are in fact inspired by a gorgeous, though short-blooming,  flower which you can enjoy in your garden.  NOW is actually the best time to plant them and this one is easier than 1-2-3!

But it’s November… how is that possible??? Well, the Remembrance Day poppy, Papaver rhoeas, is an annual flower whose seeds need a cold period to germinate.  So simply sprinkle the coffee-ground-like seeds  right on top of the soil.  Then, amazingly, they’ll just sit there patiently all winter and burst into a swathe of uplifting and bold red in early July.

Add a patch to your garden so you can provide yourself and your neighbours and uplifting sign of hope and reminder of the hardships endured by those before us.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
~ Lieutenant Colonel John McCraie, May 3 1915

A natural touch at the Royal Wedding

29 Apr

Savvy Kate chose Shane  Connolly, an English  floral designer,  whose is known for using seasonal, organic flowers and employing a sustainable approach by using as much growing, rather than cut, plants and trees in his floral arrangements.

Kate’s Bouquet

The bouquet personified Kate – classically beautiful, thoroughly English and reserved with purpose.  Containing all organic, freshly cut flowers, each were selected based on their significance to the Royal Family, the Middleton Family and the Language of Flowers.

  • Sweet William means gallantry (how appropriate!!!)
  • Lily-of-the-valley symbolizes the return of happiness
  • Hyacinth signifies the constancy of love
  • Ivy signifies fidelity, marriage, wedded love, friendship and affection.
  • Myrtle is the emblem of marriage and love

Kate herself requested that all the cut flowers will be donated to local charities BUT  what ever will happen to her bouquet?  Personally, I would’ve loved to see Kate toss it over her shoulder following the romantic balcony kiss!

The Abbey

The dramatically simple floral displays in Westminster Abbey featured all locally grown flowers from the Royal Estates and other growers in the country including azaleas, rhododendron, euphoria, wisteria and lilac.

The most impressive feature were the six 20 feet-high English Field Maples and two Hornbeams that lined the dramatic aisle.  Thankfully much care as been taken with these trees as they were planted in large custom designed containers.  Following one week of public viewing in the Abbey, they will taken to private royal family gardens  (Highgrove Gardens) to be replanted.  Now that’s a wedding keepsake that will grow and flourish as they do!

Save $$$ and Live Green

14 Apr

Get the one card that will keep money in your pocket as you Go Green!  The Live Green Toronto Membership Card is available to people who live, work, and shop in the city of Toronto – and it’s FREE!

You can easily save between 5-15% on many of  the organic and eco-minded products that you already buy in Toronto.

For example, enjoy discounts at over 84 restaurants and cafes such as my favorites:
Gilead Cafe & Bistro: 5% off any retail & deli items
The Healthy Butcher:  Save 10% on whole Certified Organic, Locally Raised Chicken
Balzacs Coffee: 10% off Fair Trade coffee.

But there is more than just food, you can save on travel, fashion, home decor etc.  For example:
Grassroots: save 10% on tons of great organic home items such as sheets, towels; natural personal care products; cleaning products and organic baby products.
Zipcar: Save $55 when you sign-up as a member

Sign-up is fast and free! Within 2-3 weeks your card will arrive in the mail and you can start saving.
Click here to get yours!

Beyond the Hour

26 Mar

TONIGHT @ 8:30
Let’s be honest… turning the lights off for one hour is not the goal nor does it make a significant impact.  Earth Hour is the opportunity for everyone  to commit to specific actions that will help us tread more lightly on our delicate Home.
So, whether or not you turn off the lights tonight… please commit to one change today that helps our planet. Here are 3 no-brainer ‘pledges’ that will help the earth and save you money!
1.  Drink tap, not bottled water.
2.  Run the dishwasher only when full and when finished, leave the door open to air-dry.
3.  Wash only in cold water (85 to 90% of energy used is to heat water). And guess what? Your clothes will last longer!

What will you do “beyond the hour?”

Garden Metamorphosis – Behind the Scenes @ Canada Blooms

18 Mar
Verkade Design had tons of fun supporting  Sander Designs  to create a sexy garden for Juno award-winning Jully Black.  Our garden planting garnered us the award for (drum roll please) …. “Best Use of Tulips”   No too surprising… I am dutch afterall 🙂 
Sexy takes work!

Putting on my marketing hat, a video montage was created to showcase her philosophy and philanthropic work with CARE Canada and also invited people to interact with Jully on Twitter.   Check out the Jully Black garden experience this weekend at Canada Blooms.

To see some behind the scenes (and not so flattering pics of me) click here.

In the media:
Toronto Star Article 1
Toronto Star Article 2

Spring is around the corner!

10 Mar

It may not feel like it but spring is definitely around the corner!
The weather outside may be confusing but the definite sign is the upcoming Canada Blooms Festival at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto.  This year, I’m getting my hands dirty and helping out Sander Designs complete a stunning garden inspired by Juno award-winning artist Jully Black

Come visit and breathe in the fresh aromas of spring a few weeks early. 
Festival runs March 15-20.