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April 02, 2008

No place like gnome

Unearthing deals for your digs a garden centre—or several—away

Meg de Jong

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With the gardening season just around the corner, Calgary stores are starting to stock up. It won’t be long until it’s time to get your hands dirty—so scope out some of the best places in the city to give your garden or deck a fresh look this spring.

Golden Acre Garden Sentre
prides itself on being one of the biggest and the best in the city. “If you can’t find it here, you won’t find it anywhere in the city,” asserts proprietor Andrew Haus. The independently owned, family-run business spans over 13 acres, and has been around for 40 years. “It’s a complete garden centre from start to finish,” says Haus, isolating annual plant sales as the biggest department in the store. They also stock around 30,000 square-feet of indoor houseplants, with between 50 and 70 varieties to choose from, if you want to garden but have little outdoor space. “With small space gardening, the emphasis is on container gardening,” says Haus. “Planters are becoming a big thing for condos in the city,” he adds, recommending Golden Acre’s custom planters. The planters themselves are available in ceramic, wood and plastic, and are custom designed for sun or shade.
Haus says they sell about 12,000 of the planters (which are made in-house) and guarantees that you’ll find a colour to tickle your fancy. The other big area for Golden Acre is their bistro set section—garden or patio furniture that can be found to fit any size of deck. Bought in for the first time last season to huge popularity, Haus also imports a variety of statues—some life size and larger—in bronze and marble from Thailand and China respectively.

Cobblestone Garden Centre

sits right on the Calgary’s southeast city limits—but is well worth the drive. The garden centre and gift store, owned by John and Tricia Ingram, is a relaxed homey experience, with outstandingly friendly and personal service. While the Ingrams have been in the retail garden business for 17 years now, Cobblestone is in its fifth season. Beyond the gardening supplies and giftware, the Ingrams also grow from greenhouses they have at home—something they say gives more latitude in what they produce. Their stock items include outdoor plants, bedding plants, perennials and shrubs. “A lot of people are looking for outdoor art,” notes John, citing statues, ponds and water features. Cobblestone carries a wide variety of decor to cater to any taste—including a number of fair trade items. One particular trend he notes is a growing demand for outdoor clocks. “People are treating their backyards as an outdoor room,” he observes. Another popular area is birding.  Beyond a colourful assortment of houses, feeders and baths for birds, Cobblestone also carries accessories for butterflies and bats, to attract the full scope of nature onto your porch or garden area. “Bats catch a tonne of mosquitoes,” adds John. For small-space gardening, John has also observed a growth in balcony and container gardening, and sells all shapes and sizes of pots and planters, including window boxes that can be hung on railings. He also recommends tier gardening for limited spaces, and wall-hung containers, which “come in all sizes to make use of a really small space,” he says.

Quick Grow Indoor Garden Center

is a great place to get a deal if you know what you’re looking for. The store deals chiefly with aeroponics and hydroponics systems and products, and is simple and functional. “We’re more about results than appearances,” says Vincent, who helps run the store. Quick Grow stocks a wide variety of the lighting used to grow plants indoors—although Vincent Duncan also advocates it if you’re trying to achieve natural lighting in a darker space in your home. They also carry things like fertilizers, pumps, and crossover with aquarium equipment which Duncan assures that they have at the best price in town. They have an assortment of gadgets if you’re trying to grow something finicky—thermometers, automatic watering systems, heaters and humidity gauges amongst other things.

Lee Valley Tools Ltd.

has lots of practical stuff to kit you up for gardening, in addition to impressive woodworking and hardware sections.  “We do all sorts of things,” says store manager Larry Diegel. “We do everything from clothing to lawn care, to seed propagation, to hand tools.” For a condo gardener, Diegel recommends self-watering containers. “They’re great for decks because it’s sealed at the bottom,” he says. He also recommends the store’s ‘how-to’ book section if you’d like a few ideas on what to do with your space. Lee Valley carries several small-space gardening books, including a practical guide to container gardening. Another hot item Diegel recommends for condo owners are glass-paned Wardian cases, used for indoor herb growing.
Not Just the Iron Design Ltd.
will give your outdoors a really unique flair. The store does custom ornamental ironwork, functional metal art and home and garden decor. They do a lot of custom stuff to make people’s visions into a reality, says store owner Joanna Klein. Using mostly recycled materials like steel and copper, products include indoor-outdoor sculptures, birdbaths and feeders, water features, custom railings and gates and furniture. Klein says furniture incorporating pottery has been especially popular, and is in and out of the store in a flash. Her “crazy bird” garden decorations are really popular, along with other whimsical fairies, ladybugs, dragonflies and cowboys.
Iron Design has a lot in store for the coming season too: they’re working on kinetic sculptures that move with the wind and incorporating agates into garden decor and furniture. “I’m excited about my work,” says Klein.

Sacred Journey Home  and Garden Boutique

also has unique decorative items from around the world to give your space that special touch. The family business “brings a little bit of the world here,” says store manager Vicky Atkins. When in season, she says they will stock flowers and plenty patio furniture—and they always try to get condo-friendly smaller pieces. The furniture is really something different—majestic pieces of teak-root fashioned into huge outdoor pieces. The wares will set you back anything between $179 for a side table to $10,000 for a full desk and throne.
From Indonesia, are limestone and lava stone hand-carved statues, many of which double as planters or water features. Stained-glass stakes and soon-to-come water features by a local artist are something Atkins is getting really excited about for the new season. Other unique pieces to pop on a patio or nestle in the garden are stone water features from Brazil. They often feature a bit of quartz and amethyst, with a light shining from behind to give a magical, mystical atmosphere. The pieces are in the $500 range. Other items include ceramic planters from Indonesia, an assortment of lanterns for the deck, double hammocks to relax in the summer sun, and if you have a bit more space, pagodas made to order.

Artesano Galleria
If you’re looking for a gargoyle or gnome to watch over your flowerbeds, Artesano Galleria should be your first port of call. The store stocks mostly whimsical one-of-a-kinds and collectable home and garden decor, says owner Wendy Bach. She recommends resin pieces for outdoors, as they don’t take in water where concrete does. Popular garden ornaments from frogs, and pigs to turtles are available between $29 and $200, along with novelty planters, outdoor wall fixtures and life-sized body casts.

Greengate Garden Centres Ltd.

look at the big picture of gardening, and prides itself of giving you the support you need to create the effect you’re going for. The store stocks the full spectrum of necessities and accessories, from birds and bugs, to container gardening, watering, fertilizing and lawns. Sunnyside Greenhouses Ltd. prides itself on its selection of trees, shrubs, perennials, bedding plants and herbs. The family-run business also brings in decor items and accessories, patio furniture, rock, gravel and sands.


Down the garden path
Artesano Galleria
1218 C 9 Avenue S.E.

Cobblestone Garden Centre
17 Ave & Garden Road S.E.
www.cobblestonegarden.ca

Golden Acre Garden Sentres
620 Goddard Avenue N.E.
www.goldenacregarden.com

Greengate Garden Centres Ltd.
1411 Macleod Trail South
www.greengate.ca

Lee Valley Tools
7261 - 11 Street S.E.

Not Just the Iron Design Ltd.
1218 B 9 Avenue S.E.

Sacred Journey Home & Garden Boutique
1404 9 Avenue S.E.
www.sacredjourney.ca

Sunnyside Greenhouses Ltd.
3439 - 69 Street N.W.
www.sunnysidehomeandgarden.com

Quick Grow – Indoor Garden Center
North Location
#1, 1204 Edmonton Trail N.E.

South Location
#102, 7500 Macleod Trail South
 http://quickgrow.com

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