While April icy showers bring May flowers, it’s not just tulips and peonies in bloom.
Toronto’s only flower market itself is booming as it expands to its maximum of dates this season.
Now in its sixth year, the Toronto Flower Market will hold its largest market ever on Mother’s Day weekend with 18 vendors on May 12 in the park space across from CAMH on Queen St. W.
This is the first of nine dates through October 20, featuring 30 vendors from across Southwestern Ontario, from fields and greenhouses of Grimsby and Dundas to Creemore and Prince Edward County.
This season, founder Natasa Kajganic and the team are expanding the date market from six to nine. Visitors can listen to live music, sample homemade popsicles at the Pop Stand, and purchase branded tote bags for $25. Still, the flowers are the main event, with all the seasonal favorites like daffodils, orchids and lilacs. But as the market continues to cement its place in the city’s spring and summer landscape, vendors are getting more creative with unique varieties of flowers and foliage.
“Because we’ve been around for so long, everyone tries to test new ideas and offer new products,” says Kajganic. “Everyone has learned what the consumer likes and wants.”
Sarah Nixon’s My Luscious Backyard, which grows in Roncesvalles Home Gardens, will offer seedlings for the first time so guests can start their own gardens and watch them grow instead of just placing cut flowers in vases.
A new seller, garden party has the city’s condo dwellers in mind with some balcony planter offerings. One of the greenhouse growers on the market The Van Geest brothers is also expanding its offerings – literally, venturing outside its Grimsby greenhouse to grow flowers in the field to offer field-grown wild varieties in addition to greenhouse-grown gerberas.
by Jessica Gale Gentle Wind Gardens, based in Flamborough, has been in the market from the start and has seen her own business grow along with it. This year is the first that she employs a team of four people to help with growth and sales. She estimates that she will browse up to 10,000 stems by the end of the season, mainly thanks to the Toronto flower market, which is her biggest source of income each year. This year, she is also trying new varieties.
“More and more farmers are experimenting with different plants that could have been used more traditionally in gardens,” she says.
For Gale, that means the flowering plant of bee balm, also known as bee balm or bergamot, which she says has a “stunning” smell similar to Earl Gray tea.
In keeping with the trend-loving green hand’s fondness for wildflowers and non-traditional flowers, Joanne Feddes, with La Primavera Farms in Dundas, will expand its collection of green foliage and flowering branches in addition to its usual business of pre-made bouquets of peonies and sunflowers.
Feddes has been in the market for year one and assumes his operation is selling up to 50-200 bunches a day and will likely grow to around 40,000 stems by the end of the season.
For Feddes and other vendors, the Toronto Flower Market is the only opportunity to reach a crowd of loyal flower lovers in the region. There are other markets in the city, but none just for plants and flowers.
“It’s a farmers market where you’re not competing with vegetables,” says Feddes. “The crowd is the good crowd. They love flowers, they love local, they love watching people create things out of whatever is in season.
That’s why Kajganic felt the market was ready, with its growing fan base and dedicated sellers, to expand to nine dates.
“Slow and steady wins the race,” she says. “If we’re looking for a 75-year tradition in the city, we have to make decisions based on longevity.”
As the Toronto flower market becomes more established this year, Kajganic’s vision comes into full swing.
“It’s not just ‘you come and you buy,’ but it’s an experience,” she says. “We are a community of growers, florists, gardeners who love to transform our city with plants and flowers.”
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