October 15, 2012
As part of the Celebrate Yonge event in Toronto, Landscape Ontario members took over the busiest section along the province’s longest street.

Over 150 planters were created to serve as barriers between pedestrian areas and lanes of traffic from Queen to Gerrard. Over 20 participants responded to the Live Green Planter Box Challenge to landscaping professionals from all over Ontario to build themed floral arrangements.

“The landscapers accepted the challenge (thanks to Landscape Ontario spreading the word) and created beautiful plantings that showcased throughout our event area,” said the project manager Susan Williston. “The amazing contest plantings made it difficult to choose just one and the judges named three arrangements as their overall favourites.”

Three members of Landscape Ontario were chosen as the top planters. They are Rembrandt Landscaping at Milton and Landscape Garten, Stouffville, and Green Valley Landscaping of Etobicoke. The winners were announced at the Celebrate Yonge VIP Cocktail Reception at the Massey Tower on Aug. 23.

A panel of judges consisting of Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, Lawson Oates from the City of Toronto Environment Office, Frank Ferragine from Breakfast Television and Christopher Hume from the Toronto Star were assigned the task of determining the Challenge’s overall winner. The judges based their decision on who best interpreted themes with bonus points being awarded for environmentally friendly plants, materials and practice.

“This was such a great experience. Everyone who participated in this one should be rightfully congratulated on a job well done!!” said Irene Belo owner of Green Valley Landscaping.

Linda Dauphinee, owner of Rembrandt Landscaping, said, “We used the challenge as a team building exercise. The entire group had a great time brainstorming ideas for the five planters we chose to enter in the challenge. Our theme was quaint waterfront. The lighthouse planter was the winner for us. We constructed the planters at our shop in Milton with materials from Putzer Nurseries and Terra Greenhouses. The team then transported and installed the planters at the corner of Edward St. and Yonge St.”

Dauphinee related the experience of receiving the award on Aug. 23, when she took her team out to dinner and then proceeded to Massey Tower for the reception. “The team was buzzing with excitement, and when it was announced that we were one of the winners, that excitement was over the top!”

Margarete Haefele CLD, owner of Landscape Garten, says, “I felt planter boxes in such an area need to have drive-by appeal. By winning the planter box challenge, I realized that my entry helped to bring people into the space to enjoy it as only pedestrians would. That was the whole point in Celebrate Yonge! The challenge pushed the boundaries for people up and down on Yonge Street. People enjoyed moving out in the open spaces afforded by the planter boxes. It was a joy to see people just being there…playing, relaxing, talking, sunning.”  

The floral arrangements were on display until festival’s end on Sept. 16. LO members taking part in the event were Allweather Landscaping of Toronto, Balfour Greenhouse of Fenwick, Cultivate Design of Toronto, Elm Landscaping of North York, Green Valley Landscaping, Landscape Garten, LawnSavers of Concord (entering on behalf of Project Evergreen/ Nursery Sod Growers Association), Neighbourhood Landscaping of Etobicoke, Oasis Landscaping of Maple, Rembrandt Landscaping, Silver Stone Landscaping of Concord and Summerhill Nurseries of Toronto. Other participants included Evergreen Garden Market, GGL Landscape Services, Janet Rosenberg and Associates, MBTW Group, Northend Gardens, Royal Botanical Gardens, Toronto Botanical Gardens and Young Urban Farmers.