5 best garden ideas from Canada Blooms

Going fabulously fake. Super-sizing. Turning the practical into art. There are plenty of I-can-do-that garden ideas designed for maximum wow at Toronto’s Canada Blooms, the annual festival of all things horticultural in full swing all this week. Here are my top five ‘likes’. Click on any photo to start each slideshow for more details.

1. Try un-natural: Want an instant garden? Got a small space? No time for maintenance or just want to camouflage something necessary but ugly? Choosing fake materials rather than real can do the trick. (And who doesn’t love a little irony in the backyard?) I saw photo murals used to fabulous effect, for instance. Outdoor wall wrappings can disguise a cement block wall, the side of a garage or a garden shed, for instance. Fake grass is a no-brainer for high traffic areas but it works equally well when used as camouflage. I’ve seen a small shed, used to store garbage bins, virtually disappear when covered with the stuff. Strips of faux turf (or even green carpeting if you’re going full-on hippie recycler) stops weeds from springing up in the spaces between stepping stones.

2. Big is big: The new zen garden is still harmonious and tranquil, but twee it ain’t. In one display, stepping stones the size of small couches lead you past a stream of water rippling over a table-sized rock. The spaces between each boulder created mini ravines that sheltered delicate flowers. In another display, three kitchen sink-sized bowls were hung in a tiered formation to create a dramatic (yet surprisingly quiet) waterfall. Beyond them, not one but nine vessels, some waist-height, were arranged to create a multi-level cascade. Click on each photo for display and designer details.

3. Turning the simple into the sensational: Ontario-based sculptor and fine artist Floyd Elzinga has proven that the simplest and most practical of outdoor features can be shockingly beautiful. Never have downspouts looked so amazing. If you love this look, check out his giant fir and pine cone sculptures. They aren’t practical. They’re just very cool.

4. Old ways, new looks: Whether made of rock or wood, these walls elevated fencing to a whole new level. Traditional fieldstone work took on a sculptural quality with the addition of moss-filled slashes. The gabion, an ancient design (a cage filled with rocks) still used today, usually for erosion control and road building, shed its utilitarian image to form chic privacy screens and double-tiered moss gardens. And a barn board fence multi-tasked as plant container-slash-living art gallery with small shadow box-style frames.

5. Fairies living larger: The fairy garden trend is just getting bigger–literally. I’m not one to go in for teeny tiny gardens populated by teeny tiny figurines but seeing magical mushrooms the size of footstools and fairy condos towering upwards of four feet in height was refreshing. If you love this trend, why not really go for it?

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