Winter is the time when much of the landscape goes dormant, settling under a blanket of snow for a months-long snooze. For landscapers, though, winter looks quite a bit different.
In fact, January and February can be extremely busy months at Water’s Edge: it’s the time when we get to dig deep into training, learning new techniques and approaches to every aspect of landscape care.
One of the highlights of the learning season is the annual conference held by Landscape Ontario. With over 2,500 members, Landscape Ontario is one of the largest and most vibrant organizations of its kind, and Water’s Edge has long taken an active role in it.
Like all good conferences, this one both informs and inspires, with workshops and seminars on every conceivable aspect of landscaping. It’s a powerful few days for our team: landscaping is complex and ever-changing, and it’s wonderful to immerse yourself in creative and innovative ideas from around the world.
Even though we have decades of experience in designing and implementing fantastic landscapes, you’re never too good to learn more. And every year, we come away with ideas and concepts that we look forward to bringing to our clients’ landscapes. Here are just a few of the highlights.
Serenity by design
Owner Karen Tolton attended a workshop with Jan Johnssen, the author of Heaven is a Garden. Jan has spent years studying the design details that make gardens feel relaxing and refreshing.
Her work draws on everything from physics to psychology to metaphysics in order to answer questions like “why do certain shapes or patterns feel more relaxing than others?” or “why does purple feel like a more energetic colour than blue?” or “why does a view to the east feel different than a view to the west?”
Much of her work focuses on things that designers like Karen have long known, either instinctively or through training and experience. But it’s remarkable to discover the scientific basis that underlies much of our experience.
Integrated Pest Management
IPM is the industry term for something that Water’s Edge has long taken pride in. It refers to a wide range of tools that work together to battle diseases and insect pests, offering a powerful alternative to pesticides.
Pat Reynolds, one of our project leaders, spent the day getting updates on new techniques and approaches. IPM involves creating conditions that are ideal for beneficial insects and microbes, and ensuring that plants are healthy so that they can resist and repel any diseases and pests that come along, without the need for chemical spray. It’s a complex set of variables that need to factored in, and there are always new things to learn in this field.
Pat also attended a workshop on The Art of Growing Food.
This session focused on ways to create gardens that are both beautiful and edible – something we’ve been advocating for many years now. Pat picked up some great tips from a landscape designer who is also a cook, which lets her approach her garden designs with all of the senses in mind.
If you don’t currently have edibles growing at the cottage, talk to us. There are so many fun and creative ways to incorporate herbs and vegetables into planters, or garden beds, and it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to prepare for dinner by taking a stroll through the garden.
Shade and bees and more
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Our team also attended workshops on new perennial varieties for shade, on new flowers that benefit birds and pollinators, on colour theory and colour selection in the garden, and more.
And that’s just one conference! We’ll also have people spending a week learning new techniques for property maintenance, and attending other workshops and conferences.
It’s a fun and busy way to spend the winter, and we’re looking forward to implementing this new information when the season gets underway in a couple of months.