A Year of Garden Celebration

Gardens have never been a bigger part of Canadian life.

In the spring of 2020, we saw the largest growth in home vegetable gardening since World War II.

In the two years since, gardens have been a place of comfort in our quieted lives and, during the better moments, a safe space for gathering with friends and family.

According to the Canadian Garden Council, “over four in five Canadians expected to spend the same time (66%) or more time (21%) gardening in 2021 than 2020.”

It seems fitting that 2022 should officially be deemed Year of the Garden, as it was declared in the House of Commons last year and officially launching on March 20th. Led by the Canadian Garden Council, Year of the Garden is an opportunity to “Learn and Get Inspired”, “Do and Get Results”, and to “Experience and Enjoy” gardening.

Here are our suggestions for celebrating Canada’s Year of the Garden in 2022:

  • Plant red to show your Canadian pride. A sweep of ruby-red geraniums or petunias is one way to accomplish this effect or plant a native redbud tree to enjoy for years to come.
  • Join a horticulture society to strengthen bonds in your local gardening community. Ontario Horticultural Association is the non-profit established in 1906 that oversees chapters of passionate gardeners in this province. In our experience, Horticulture Societies play an outsized role in their communities for promoting the passion for gardening while in turn benefiting their members in spades with social connection and gardening fun. Find a chapter near you at https://gardenontario.org/about/
  • Plan a summer holiday on Canada’s Garden Route. Throughout the uncertainty of COVID, outdoor spaces have remained a relatively safe space and there is no better way to celebrate them than by visiting one of Canada’s great gardens. Canada’s Garden Route (https://gardenscanada.ca/canadas-garden-route/) can help you organize a road trip rich in horticultural experiences.  Plan to visit exceptional public gardens and Parks Canada heritage gardens.   It is all on the website.
  • Encourage your municipality to declare 2022 Year of the Garden and go one step further by joining up with Communities in Bloom (“CiB”) if they have not already. CiB is a friendly competition between communities where public green spaces and programming are assessed by judges in the spirit of improving green communities across Canada. www.communitiesinbloom.ca
  • Follow along by subscribing to the Year of the Garden newsletter https://livethegardenlife.gardenscanada.ca/ and share your gardening experiences on social media using the hashtags #yearofthegarden and #livethegardenlife.
  • Donate to a horticultural cause in your city. In Toronto, the Toronto Botanical Garden (TBG) is one of few botanical gardens in the world with free admission, making it accessible to all Torontonians. What better way to promote the joy of gardening than to donate to support it? Exciting times are afoot at the TBG, where newly appointed Executive Director Stephanie Jutila is overseeing an ambitious expansion plan for the garden which generates 99% of its own revenues from donors, foundations, memberships and earned revenues. There has never been a better time to support the TBG (disclosure: Ben is on the Board there). https://torontobotanicalgarden.ca/
  • Garden. We use this column every Saturday to encourage you to garden. However, this year we have added thrust to our message. So, if you have been holding off on building that raised bed or splurging on that specimen tree, tell yourself: it is the year the of the garden! If not now, then when? Before your garden blossoms into the fullness of its glory, sign-up your garden as a 2022 Celebration Garden https://livethegardenlife.gardenscanada.ca/

We have always felt that gardening in Canada is one of the great joys of this great country, and now we have been given a full year to celebrate.  We invite you to join us and make sure you make the most of the Year of the Garden.

Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author, broadcaster, tree advocate and Member of the Order of Canada. His son Ben is a fourth-generation urban gardener and graduate of University of Guelph and Dalhousie University in Halifax. Follow them at markcullen.com, @markcullengardening, and on Facebook.