Jan 12, 2015

Believe it or not, the BC Home + Garden Show is only five weeks away, and we can’t wait for the excitement to begin! From February 18-22, 2015, expert advice and unlimited inspiration will be under one roof at BC Place Stadium. Steve Whysall, garden columnist for The Vancouver Sun, tops our list as one of the presenters we’re most excited to welcome back to The Vancouver Sun Gardening School stage.

If you haven’t caught one of his seminars before, allow us to introduce you to Steve. Steve has been covering gardening for the Vancouver Sun for over twenty years and has written more than 2,600 stories for the paper. During that time, he’s published five gardening books, four of which quickly became number-one bestsellers in BC. Steve has also written for various magazines, including Canadian Gardening and Gardens Illustrated in the UK.

We caught up with this garden guru to find out what to expect from him this spring. 

Marketplace Events (MPE): What are you most excited about discussing at the 2015 BC Home + Garden Show?
  • Steve Whysall (Steve): "I will be showcasing some of the world’s most original gardens and unique horticulture creations that have had a huge impact on the gardening world and revolutionized the way we think about gardens and landscapes. I plan to show images of gardens I have visited on my travels throughout England, France and Holland, to Japan, Italy and South America, as well as some key gardens here in North America. I am hoping these lectures will not only be entertaining and informative, but full of inspirational ideas that people can take away and put to good use in their own garden."
MPE: Which gardening and plant trends are you most looking forward to for spring 2015?
  • Steve: "Container gardening is going to be big again, especially for people with limited space, such as apartment and townhouse homeowners with compact balconies, patios and courtyards. I love growing everything from trees and shrubs to perennials, bulbs, annuals and tender tropical plants in containers, so I will be looking forward to trying out more creative container gardening solutions."
MPE: Are you planning any additions to your own garden this season?
  • Steve: "My goal for the past couple of years has been to convert my perennial garden to a green-on-green garden, with layers of different shades of green foliage. This was inspired by the various Dutch, French and Italian gardens I’ve visited over the years, where this green-on-green style has been perfected with magnificently sculptural yews and clipped boxwoods. I suspect I will be growing more food plants as well, such as strawberries and blueberries, but I’m looking to combine them with a strong flower element such as dwarf lilies."
MPE: Which gardening techniques and types of plants would you recommend for homeowners with minimal garden space?
  • Steve: "In a small space, it’s important to be more selective about the plants you use. Each one needs to not only look beautiful but also be relatively tidy and easy to maintain while offering a long growing season. For this reason, I recommend structural perennials such as euphorbia, hosta, salvia, astilbe and sedum and low-fuss grasses such as Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, Carex ‘Ice Dance’ and Festuca glauca along with easy-care shrubs such as Sorbaria sorbifolia ‘Sem,’ dwarf nandina and dwarf rhododendrons and azaleas. With a window box, double impatiens is a favourite breed of mine, because they resemble miniature roses, as well as double begonias such as the gorgeous pink ‘Belleconia and yellow ‘Lemon Glory’. For sunnier spots, I love calibrachoa as well as sun-tolerant coleus and the wonderful new varieties of cascading petunia and verbena. The goal is to plant densely but as carefully and intelligently (shape and colour-wise) as if you were planting a full-length border."
MPE: What suggestions do you have for homeowners that want a garden, but find it hard to keep even a cactus alive? Are there any particular plants that they should lean towards or avoid?
  • Steve: "There’s no such thing as a no-maintenance garden. However, there are plants that will survive in spite of neglect. Succulents, for instance, such as echeveria, aeonium, senecio, sempervivum, and sedum can tolerate being left out in the sunshine without water for long periods. Pelargoniums are pretty much foolproof and won’t die if they are not watered every day. The key to success is always to think carefully about putting the plant in the right location. Don’t put impatiens or ligularias in full sun, for instance – they will fry. Equally, don’t try to grow roses and petunias and pelargoniums in the shade – they will sulk and die. Get the location right and your plant has a 100% better chance of surviving and thriving, even with neglect."
Interested in learning more? Find Steve on The Vancouver Sun Gardening School Stage on Thursday, February 19 at 7pm; Friday, February 20 at 4pm; Saturday, February 21 at 2pm; and Sunday, February 22 at 1pm. We can't wait to hear all Steve has to say! Don't miss out, buy your tickets online today. Right now you can get 2-for-1 tickets on our Facebook Ticket Deals.