Spring Flower and Garden Shows

Posted March 2013 by Helen Blakey Flowers

Here in Toronto, on this grey snowy day, it’s hard to believe it’s the 1st day of spring 2013.   I know I’m growing impatient for the snow and ice to vanish, the ground to thaw and the trees to bud.  That’s why Garden and Flower shows are a welcome diversion this time of year. Many impatient gardeners sought out the spring vibes and gardening inspiration at Canada Blooms last week.

Indoor Garden Show

There are many regional garden shows around the world. I have always dreamed of making it to the elegant and refined Chelsea Garden Show on the banks of the Thames in London. While 11 acres of show gardens sounds spectacular in comparison to our now combined Garden and “Home Show”, it is dwarfed compared to the 33 acres of exhibits and major display gardens of the Grand daddy of Garden shows,

the Philadelphia Flower Show.

2013 Philadelphia Flower Show

Billed as the oldest and largest indoor garden show, for 182 years, the Philadelphia Flower Show has enthralled visitors from around the globe with stunning displays celebrating the beauty of plants and the art of gardening.

2013 celebrates the theme “Brilliant”, capturing the majestic beauty and creative inspiration of Great Britain. Displays at this year’s Flower Show will pay tribute to centuries of inspiring, influential design of London.

Visitors will be greeted by the scent of thousands of English roses at the Royal palace gates, which open to the show’s grand centerpiece: a sculptural, digitally enhanced rendition of Big Ben, complete with an hourly light and sound show.

The main exhibits will focus on Britain’s heritage and culture including Royal events, the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, foggy London street scapes, Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes and Beatles inspired Gardens. Also on offer are internationally renowned speakers, informative demonstrations, music and dance performances, wine and spirits tastings and more than 150 vendors.

This spectacular event has definitely been added to my bucket list.

Flower growers and Importers

One of our most commonly asked questions at the flower shop is “Where do all the flowers we sell come from?”  Helen Blakey Flowers.com

Helen Blakey Flowers

The answer is too lengthy to properly cover but I’ll touch on some of the more interesting points. The flower growing industry has changed quite a bit in the past 30 years that I have been in the flower business.  While Holland is still the major supplier worldwide of cut flowers, there are new countries entering the market or increasing their share of it.

A shipment of fresh roses from Ecuador.

When I started most of the roses sold in Ontario were locally grown, now the vast majority come from Columbia and Ecuador with Africa starting to break into our market as well. The shift was mostly due to the expense of heating and cooling local greenhouses and the less than ideal quality of sunlight here. The result is that our roses now have much larger blooms and stronger stems producing a longer vase life.

In the 70’s Columbia was Ontario’s supplier of carnations, now they provide a selection of several other flowers as well. While it’s still a developing industry Columbia and Ecuador have benefited from assistance and investment from experienced growers in Holland. This has increased employment, especially for women, and most farms are trying quite hard to build, develop and invest in schools, daycare and health programs for their employees and their families and communities. Many have attained “fair trade” and sustainable practices accreditation.





Flowers arriving from Staalduinen

There is still a strong grower industry in Ontario. Our flower shop’s mandate is to buy local whenever a local product is available. We carry local gerberas, alstromeria, chrysanthemums and different types of lilies year round as well as many other seasonal flowers through out the year. We always carry locally grown tropical and flowering plants to support local growers and avoid problems caused by acclimatization.

Flowers arrive every Tues. and Fri. from Dick Ormel Inc.

You’ll find the growers who supply our shop in the Niagara, Grimsby and Vineland areas.




Many florists in the Toronto area shop at “the clock” in Mississauga .http://www.ontarioflowergrowers.ca   It is a much smaller version of the Aalsmeer flower auction in Holland. Local growers and importers sell their stock to florists at a reverse auction where the price goes down during bidding instead of up.

Receiving flowers from Dick Ormel Inc.

Our flower shop instead purchases our flowers from a variety of suppliers during the week. Debrimex, Staalduinen, Dick Ormel Inc, Vanderhout and Midland Flowers . We have standing orders with each supplier and can fill in with assorted other flowers as needed. Our shop chose this supply method because we can buy in more frequent, smaller batches, ensuring the freshest possible stock at all times. Having 2-3 different wholesalers delivering to our store every day provides the advantage of being able to get different flowers and colours throughout the day to fill last minute requests. The hard part is not buying too much, the selection is amazing, I wish we could buy them all.


Wild flower, Solidago or Goldenrod


One of my all time favourite accent flowers is the wildflower golden rod or, as most florists call It, solidago. Though it brings with it a bit of a feeling of fall approaching all too soon, I love seeing fields and wild areas currently covered in this bright yellow flower. I’m not the only one who enjoys seeing solidago on the horizon, this flower has been adopted as the state flower by Nebraska and Kentucky as well as the state wildflower for South Carolina. While solidago is considered a wildflower or even a weed by many in North America, it is actually a favourite garden flower in Europe.

Outdoors,  Goldenrods are also an attractive source of nectar for bees, flies, wasps, and butterflies.

Golden Rod Allergy Myth

Many people shy away from this particular flower because of its bad reputation of causing hay fever and other allergies, but actually ragweed is the culprit with a similar blooming time to solidago (golden rod). The pollen of solidago is too heavy to be wind-pollinated and must be carried by insects from plant to plant. Handling solidago may still cause problems to those with allergies, however.

Use In Floral Design 

Did you know golden rods (solidago) are a common filler flower used by florists? That’s right, in many designs florists use a hybrid version of the common golden rod to add bright yellow color and interest to a flower arrangement. They have been hybridized to bring out all the best qualities of solidago. Though now available year round, this fall-bloomer is a great addition to your seasonal decor.

Marion, Helen Blakey Flowers.


Blooms by the millions

white orchids

Walls of Phalaenopsis orchid blooms

The event, the Christian Dior fashion show in Paris showcasing the Autumn 2012 collection by designer Raf Simons.

 Thousands upon thousands of fresh flower blooms clipped and inserted into massive walls decorating each room in a different colour palette.


Mixed fresh roses cover the walls



The logistics of working with as perishable a product as fresh flowers combined with the massive amount of labour required to install this makes for an impressive feat.

Blue delphiniums clipped and picked in by the thousands



Thousands of tiny blue delphinium blooms are inserted by hand ( or many hands!). The walls were first covered with stacked bricks of flower foam, then covered in chicken wire to keep them in place.



This behind the scenes video shows a fascinating glimpse into the project as it was being prepped and installed.

The beautiful results are eye popping.

Behind the scenes, Flowers at Dior Paris 2012

Flowers in Modern Art

While flowers have been popular subject matter for painters and photographers for centuries, there are some interesting new takes on portraying flowers in art.

Jack Long, photographer

photographer, Jack Long



Photographer Jack Long creates stunning images by creating flowers for fractions of a second by splashing coloured liquids and capturing them on film.

See his work online at;

500px / Jack Long / Photos


Photographer, Jack Long

photographer, Jack Long

The amount of patience and effort that goes into each composition is unfathomable.







Another direction in capturing flowers on film is taken by photographer Ori Gersht.

Ori like to blow flowers up, literally.

photogrpher, Ori Gersht

Gersht’s photographs and films provide a meditation on life, loss, destiny and chance. Allusions to the catastrophic violence of the Spanish Civil War, the bombing of Hiroshima and the suicide bombs that Gersht anticipated during his childhood in Israel can all be found in this work. As such, it reminds us of our past, present, and future, and, above all, the fragility of life itself.

photographer, Ori Gersht

photograpgher, Ori Gersht



I have to admit watching the video on Youtube of the making of exploding flowers, I felt sad to see such beautiful arrangements destroyed, but then that is the nature of flowers, they are only here for a short while before they wilt and transform into something new.

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Helen Blakey Flowers



Mother’s Day Flowers and Gifts

No gift to your Mother can equal her gift to you – life

 Mother’s day, May 13th

Pink Potpourri Bouquet

Pink Potpourri Bouquet

The flower shop is gearing up for a busy week when so many sons, daughters, grandchildren, husbands and others turn to us to send flowers for Mother’s Day. A gift of flowers may seem like a cop out to some, but I can tell you in our experience, Moms LOVE getting flowers. I can’t count the times our delivery has brought tears to their eyes, especially from children who are far away.



Setting a good example for your children takes all the fun out of middle age“ 

Pink Tulips in a vase

Pink Tulips in a Vase

 The most common comment we florists hear when people learn of our job is “ I always wanted to work in a flower shop”. Customers are always commenting to us what a wonderful work environment we have and how we must love being surrounded by flowers every day, and they’re right.

Flowers make you feel happy.

They look great, they smell great and they make people feel great. Like they say “take time to smell the flowers”.

Red Roses Cup and Saucer

Red Roses Cup and Saucer


Mothers hold their childrens hand for only a short while, but their hearts forever

Our flower shop, Helen Blakey Flowers, has lots of flower arrangements,spring bouquets, flowering plants and dish gardens and even fruit, gourmet and goody baskets in stock. Visit our website or give us a call and we’ll set you up with the perfect  gift delivery. Beat the rush and order for delivery on or before May 9 and save $10.00 on a minimum $50.00 purchase.

Promo code “MD2012″

“Insanity is hereditary, you get it from your children”

Flower drying and preservation techniques


This time of year we get a lot of inquiries at our flower shop about preserving flowers. Prom corsages, wedding flowers or even leaves and flowers from the garden.

Our flower shop,  Helen Blakey Flowers, does not offer any flower preserving services, however we can point you in a few different directions to explore.

If you would like to preserve flowers from a wedding you must plan for this well in advance of the day. If you want to try the do it yourself approach, a few practice runs will avoid future disappointment. Also, why not take a picture or two of the flowers while they are still fresh?

To preserve flowers yourself, Try one of these 3 methods. Not all flowers work in all methods so again experimenting ahead will be necessary.

1)      You can simply air dry the flowers. This is the least effective, but by far the easiest, approach. Hang the flowers facing down in a dry, dark area and allow them to dry out on their own. They will shrivel and change colour. Some will not dry well, like alstromeria, others may dry but the colour will change a lot, red roses go blacker, white roses turn brownish.

2)      You can press the individual blooms and frame them in the shape of your bouquetframed for display or create any number of decorative items, cards etc. You can always try the old approach of pressing the flowers under a heavy book, leaving it for several days. Much better results can be achieved with  Microwave flower presses that can be used in the microwave to instantly dry and press flowers. They are easy to use and work well on most types of flowers, retaining their colours quite well. I’ve bought them online at Lee Valley or you can visit their stores at 1275 Morningside or 590 King St W. You can find  many project ideas online and there are books about how to make wonderful keepsakes this way.

3)     To keep the colour and quality but retain the flowers dimensions you can dry whole blooms in silica gel. This technique is a lot more work and is much trickier but well worth the effort. Silica is a powdery substance that draws the moisture from the flowers. The results are quite good on most types of flowers. You must remove the stem and bury each bloom completely in the sand. It can then be left for days/weeks to dry, or the process can be sped up with the microwave, however I’ve found this to be VERY tricky to not overcook the flowers. The sand can be dried out and reused repeatedly. It can be purchased at any craft store like Michael’s and also Lee Valley sells it.

 The internet is full of projects and simple ideas for putting together a lovely keepsake, especially of your wedding day. Plan ahead and have fun. 

 For professional preservation services you must arrange well in advance to have the flower bouquet shipped immediately after the wedding ceremony. The costs are very high, a 16” X 20” framed dried bouquet starts at $1,000. $500 for corsage size flowers with an invitation or similar design.

floralpreservations.com is a local company that offers these services. Even if you don’t want to use their services, check out their website. It shows you what framed finished products can look like and is great inspiration for your own projects.

Wedding Flowers

Wedding Flowers, Helen Blakey Flowers

So you’re planning a wedding…
have you checked out these websites yet?

To see the available range of cut flower varieties and colours, visit the website of these  grower / importers that supply flowers locally.They offer Eco certified flower options as well.


Check this one out, an amazing site for organizing and making things easier for yourself and out of town guests. Enter the locations of your ceremony, reception, hotels even local entertainment and it maps everything out. It’s also full of profiles of local weddings, upcoming industry events and lots of reviews of local vendors. It’s a great way to share and communicate after the event as well.

Another site that profiles weddings and vendors isBridal bouquet

The most popular wedding industry sites are still

And of course our flower shop website has a wedding section too

Valentine’s Day Flowers

Happy Valentine’s Day

Sweet ThoughtsJust like people, flowers come in hundreds of shapes and sizes.

When it comes to Valentine’s Day gifts, carefully selecting the flower varieties and colours you send will result in a thoughtful customized gift your sweetheart will treasure. The first step is to consider your sweetheart’s preferences.

  • · What colours does she (or he) like? Men respond well to crisp and vivid colours such as reds, oranges or purple. Women tend to relish pastel tones of pinks, peaches and lavenders.
  • · Does she have any favourite flowers? What are his hobbies? Our expert designers at Helen Blakey Flowers can create arrangements that revolve around your sweetheart’s favourite hobby, sport or past time.

Ask yourself the message you wish to convey. Consult with us, your florist, we can explain the assortment of possibilities available. To get the best selection and ensure prompt delivery, call the week before Valentines Day. When you call, have the necessary information handy. Recipient’s name, full address, phone number, what you wish to send, your card message, and method of payment.

Field of RosesCelebrate Valentines Day All Weekend
With Valentine’s Day falling on a Tuesday this year, it is a perfect opportunity to celebrate all weekend long.

  • · Send flowers to your sweetheart at work on Friday Feb. 10th with a note saying “Looking forward to a romantic weekend” or “I couldn’t wait to say I love you.” She will be the first to receive Valentine’s Day flowers.
  • · Surprise your sweetheart by having flowers delivered to her at home on Saturday Feb. 11th.
  • · Send her flowers at work on Monday Feb.                                                                     13th with a note that says “I couldn’t wait                                                                        another day to tell you how much I love                                                                          you.” She will be amazed.

Happy in LoveValentine’s Day Colours
Red is a traditional Valentine’s Day colour. Other combinations also will WOW your sweetheart. Here are some popular colours and combinations for this Valentine’s Day.

  • Red, pinks and purple.
  • Hot pink, orange and lime.
  • Mixed purple shades accented with lime green.
  • Orange and red for a hot and spicy combination.
  • Hot pink, chartreuse green and orange sherbert tones are appealing to the young at heart.
  • Vibrant hot pinks.
  • Monochromatic (flowers all in the same colour family).

Send flowers to your Man

  •  Birds of Paradise paired with orange carnations and purple statice.
  • Tropical flowers with orange roses and a single red rose. Ask for them to be arranged in a contemporary vase with some bold foliage.
  • Plants such as Anthuriums, Bromelaids or other succulents.
  • Phalaenopsis Orchid plants.

Send flowers to your Mom

  • A lovely mix of blooms, such as lilies, alstromeria, roses and gerbs with beautiful foliages for texture and contrast.
  • For a “hip” mom, send something bright and spirited, such as orange or hot pink roses and tulips.
  • Flowers in her favourite colour.

Call the expert staff at Helen Blakey Flowers to arrange for a stunning display of your affections for all the people you love!
Our direct phone number is (416) 291-2117.
Our secure website is www.helenblakeyflowers.com.
Order early to avoid disappointment.

Flowers, the gift of happiness

What I believe: Flowers open hearts

When you receive flowers, the doors of your heart swing open. When you give flowers, the doors swing open in response.

Expressing love and kindness through flowers to a friend, family members or lover – is faster and less complicated than words and communicates so much about you. Research proves, as I have always believed, that flower givers are thought of as caring and loving people who appreciate beauty.

Love yourself. Treat yourself to flowers. I am also a firm believer that the amount of love you have in your life starts with the amount of love you have for yourself. So, in addition to giving flowers to others, remember to give flowers to yourself too. Research shows that flowers make people happier. Make yourself happy and include flowers as a part of your daily self-love practice!

Your Florist is your BFF!!!

What follows is my advice for building loving relationships. Send flowers to spontaneously and instantly improve the mood of a friend or a loved one. Also here is your Florist, who is like that friend in the know, who has the best advice and the hottest tips, who you can always rely on to help you add that special touch.

One of the best-kept secrets is that a gift of flowers from one friend to another is the perfect fit and the flower power can be immense. Pick a flower or flowers that remind you of your friend’s unique spirit and include a note linking the flower to them. One of the greatest gifts you can give a person is the gift of really seeing them, especially at the times that matter the most.

There is something magical about sharing your life’s path with a friend for those important milestones…marking special times with flowers will keep you in their memories forever. Congratulate them on a professional achievement, a baby, a birthday or send a big dose of love when they need it the most. The time to build a friendship is when it’s strong, so one of my favourite times to express my appreciation is when they are least expecting it.

Sending flowers to a romantic partner is a natural way to express your emotions – with an added bonus. Flowers show how special and caring you are too. The truth is that great relationships take love and care, not hard work. If you step out of your busy life and take a moment to be spontaneous with the simple gift of flowers, you’ll be surprised with how much love you get in return.

Smart lovers know that flowers are like bursts of love you can give any day of the year to create a deeper intimacy with the people you love. No matter how busy life gets or what challenges you face, remember, the bond between you, is what matters the most. Think beyond tradition and send her (or him) flowers that remind you of a memory only the two of you have. Did you meet in the spring? Fresh tulips or a mix of spring blooms might be the key. Does she have a sunny personality? Sunflowers or flowers in bright cheerful colours will make her take notice. You get the idea. Flowers can signify so much – it’s up to you to make your move.

Let’s face it. Moms deserve a floral reward just about every day of the year. And what moms want more than anything is to feel their kids love. So, how easy is this? Pick a day, any day and send her the kind of flowers that express your love. Choose the flowers that say something about her. Does she love purple? Did she carry roses at her wedding? On her birthday, tuck an old photo of her and you into the card with a note saying “another year younger.” For many of us, an aunt, a godmother, an in law or even a family friend has been a mom to us. Return the love with a gift of flowers saying “Thank you for the impact you’ve made on my life.”

Finally, when you order flowers,tell your florist what statement you want the flowers to make. From a tender“You’re sweet” to a more direct “I think you’re hot” and anywhere in between. A floral arrangement can be designed to communicate your feelings and your florist can be your cupid any time, all the time! For easy and secure website orders visit helenblakeyflowers or call us at (416) 291-2117 or toll free (888) 425-0375.