Brian Minter: B.C. Home + Garden Show changes with the times

B.C. Home + Garden Show

When: Feb. 21- Feb. 25

Where: B.C. Place

Tickets and info: bchomeandgardenshow.com

Many years ago, the B.C. Home + Garden Show was truly a home and garden show in the traditional sense.

I know because we used to be there, creating large inspiring floral and garden displays, as were many other great folks in our industry. Times change.

Gardening was at its peak in the 1970s, 1980s and even into the 1990s. It levelled out in the early 2000s, followed by a worldwide decline, especially in North America. The contributing factors were more high-density living, smaller outdoor spaces and changing demographics — the Boomer generation was beginning to downsize, retire and travel, and the Xs, Ys and Millennials were busily engaged with the evolving world of technology.

While all things garden became less important, the advancement in the home renovation industry — adding value, comfort and technology to our living spaces — expanded dramatically. Home and garden shows reflected that reality.

Today, people living in these high-density, restricted spaces are experiencing a need to reconnect with the green living world. Younger gardeners want to grow unique foods safely and organically. They’re also beginning to appreciate using green plants indoors to clean toxins out of the air and to create a more livable and inviting space.

Another interesting twist is that living spaces are now moving outside, with outdoor kitchens and living rooms, with plants in containers being essential elements.

Each year the B.C. Home + Garden Show celebrates these changes. As part of the show, the very popular Vancouver Sun’s Garden School, coordinated by Steve and Loraine Whysall, features many innovative and informative speakers who share ideas on how to recreate green spaces in our surroundings, whether they be large or small.

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The HGTV Canada folks also have a strong presence at the show, bringing together a variety of elements, including home renovations, adding value, and the new green initiatives that are redefining our day-to-day activities.

This year, the “garden guy” Carson Arthur, one of the featured speakers from HGTV Canada, will be appearing at both the Main Stage and The Vancouver Sun’s Garden School.

This enthusiastic young man recognizes the changing dynamics of today’s lifestyles. He’s a strong advocate of adding the essence of wildflowers, honeybees and even chickens to outdoor living spaces. He clearly understands that, while Generation X folks are not into gardening, they really do love the benefits, and are looking to other people or companies to create and deliver the goods.

He’s also delighted that Millennials, who are focused on life balance and the natural world, now want to get into the garden to grow their own food and other plants that are beneficial to themselves and to the environment.

As part of his presentations, Arthur will be talking about the integration of plants with hardscape elements, the importance of creating privacy, and the need to plan outdoor living that fits your lifestyle.

“Anybody can grow stuff. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, but you must understand the fundamentals. So, I’m trying to get it across in a way that works for a new generation,” he says.

Arthur takes the growing process full circle by talking about the basics of harvesting and canning the things you grow, and he even shares recipes. He’s a refreshing new voice, and one not to be missed.

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In the displays, No Limit Landscaping is designing an outdoor oasis. Spokesman Josh Weaver, said the company is creating a small spa with a stream and pond to showcase how water can add value to an outdoor living space. In addition, they are incorporating a water wall, and a new product called cultured stone. All this is staged on a 30 x 35 foot area to inspire ideas for everyone, but especially those who have limited outdoor spaces.

Chris O’Donahue, spokesman for The Great Canadian Landscaping Company, says they are creating a modern outdoor kitchen area and integrating a metal pergola which opens and closes. They are also featuring a green wall, one design element now gaining traction in homes and commercial properties. The company is taking a minimalist approach, and featuring colours of white, purple and green.

“What we are doing should appeal to both traditional homeowners, and to folks who have small backyards,” O’Donahue says.

The B.C. Landscape and Nursery Association also has a presence with their Bee-Friendly Gardening program. It’s an opportunity to learn about plants that add beauty to your garden while providing nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinators.

It is great to see the garden world coming back in a much different but important way. If you want to experience the many new approaches to add value to your home and garden, be sure to visit the B.C. Home + Garden Show. I’ll be speaking there on Feb. 22 at 3 p.m. and again on Feb. 24 at 5:30 p.m. Hope to see you there.

• Vancouver Sun gardening columnist Brian Minter will be a speaker on the Garden Stage at the 2018 B.C. Home and Garden Show happening Feb. 21-25. To learn more, visit bchomeandgardenshow.com.

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