Canada Blooms is Canada’s largest home and garden exhibition.
Founded in 1996 by the Garden Club of Toronto and Landscape Ontario, Humber College students in the Floral Design program have watched it grow since day one.
Humber became involved when Floral Design instructor Albert Graves was asked personally by the founders to help design the main entrance of the venue.
“They were looking for people who could actually handle a project of that size, that also have creative capabilities,” said Graves, “It worked out so well that they’ve asked me ever since to decorate the main entrance.
“I get students involved because that’s where the strength comes in, to actually have students helping. That’s the whole point of teaching,” he said.
Graves also allows his students to have creative input in the floral designs he creates for the exhibition.
“(Students) come with really, really cool ideas that I try to incorporate as much as possible at Canada Blooms,” he said.
The Floral Design program runs for 15 weeks and is offered as a weekly evening course. The concept is students come in with little to no knowledge and finish with enough knowledge to start in the floral industry, said Graves.
Students enrolled in the Floral Design program are not required to participate in Canada Blooms but can volunteer their time.
This year, for the current edition of Canada Blooms which runs until Sunday on the CNE grounds, Graves and his students have set up floral displays that will highlight the festival’s theme “The Magic of Spring.”
Students collaborated with custom tent builders, Yurta, to create a simulated backyard paradise. They designed and created a garden oasis surrounding the tent.
Patrick Ladisa, a team member at Yurta said he didn’t work too closely with the students involved but was able to see the designs ahead of time and was impressed with the quality of work.
“We could see right away in the early design sketches that the students really understood what the Yurta was about,” said Ladisa. “This structure is really about bringing people close … we saw that in the designs which were very thoughtful and we really saw it in the execution here,” he said.
Humber’s Floral Design program has found an important professional opportunity in Canada Blooms, in a relationship that continues to deepen over two decades.
“Everybody in Canada knows Canada Blooms,” Graves said. “A lot of people have high expectations of what it should be.”
The exhibition is currently being held at the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place where more than 200,000 people have seen the creative designs of students come to life.