Having spent the last eight years in a multitude of roles at Calgary’s Spruce It Up Garden Centre, born and raised Calgarian Joanne Dafoe knows what it takes to get things growing in this city. Since graduating with a major in Horticulture and Landscape Design, Dafoe has served as landscape co-ordinator, green goods buyer and even store manager.
In addition to running her new consultation company, Dafoe also guest hosts on the Let’s Talk Gardening Radio Show on QR77. CREB®Now caught up with Dafoe before her appearance at this year’s Calgary Home + Garden Show to talk a bit about what makes gardening great.
CREB®>> How did you get into gardening and landscaping and what do you enjoy about it?
DAFOE>> Horticulture and landscaping was a late career choice for me. I plunged into correspondence courses through the University of Guelph and after graduating, started my own business. I am still amazed by the idea of making a living doing what I am passionate about.
CREB®>> What challenges does landscaping/gardening in Calgary’s rather unique climate present?
DAFOE>> Fluctuation in temperature is always a challenge when it comes to gardening. Having a 20-degree temperature variation within 24 hours can wreak havoc on our plants! What always surprises me, though, is the passion that Calgary gardeners have despite the challenges we are presented. There are many products and plants that thrive in our climate, so try to work with Mother Nature rather than daring to defy her, and you are assured success.
CREB®>> What’s the number one mistake people make when landscaping their own yards?
DAFOE>> The most common mistake when delving into a DIY project is not having a plan. Even if the landscape will be implemented in stages, creating an overall plan is essential for proper flow. A successful landscape is one that appears as though it was built simultaneously with the house, rather than an add-on.
CREB®>> What’s the easiest thing people can do to improve the look of their yards?
DAFOE>> Create a focal point in your landscape – something to anchor the viewer’s eye. A specimen tree, a birdbath, or a piece of statuary are all effective. I have often built entire landscapes starting with one focal point and building from that.
CREB®>> What’s the biggest trend(s) you’re seeing in landscaping right now?
DAFOE The addition of an outdoor gas fireplace, fire pit or fire bowl is the most requested outdoor element this year. There is something magical and serene about gathering around a fire.
CREB® If you could change one thing about Calgary, what would it be?
DAFOE>> I love Calgary with all of its gardening quirks and challenges, but if I could have just one wish, it would be to successfully grow a Japanese Maple Tree in my backyard. That would require Calgary switching climates with Vancouver, but it would make me a very happy girl!
CREB®>> What’s your favourite way to spend a day off in or around the city?
DAFOE>> An ideal day includes grabbing my daughter and our Labradoodle ‘Ivy’ for a run at Sandy Beach.
CREB® What’s Calgary’s best kept secret?
DAFOE>> The Reader Rock Garden on the north end of Cemetery Hill is an under utilized treasure. Meander at your leisure through some of the most beautiful gardens in Calgary. Rock pathways, bridges and benches make this a gorgeous walk – and it’s free!
CREB®>> In your opinion, what are the essential elements to a good community?
DAFOE>> Neighbourhood camaraderie is essential to good communities. It is time to reacquaint ourselves with our neighbours, so we can all look out for each other. Build a front yard sitting area (and actually use it!) or adopt a community vegetable garden, both giving us the opportunity to shake hands with old and new friends.
CREB®>> Do you have a favourite plant?
DAFOE>> I didn’t even hesitate with this answer! My favourite plant is the Hydrangea. The varieties I recommend for Calgary are Limelight and Quick Fire. Planted in groups or stand alone, Hydrangeas always scream ‘Look at me’!
Be sure to catch Joanne Dafoe’s presentation Pick, Plant and Harvest, sponsored by CREB®Now, at this year’s Home + Garden Show, taking place Feb. 28 to March 3 at the BMO Centre. For more information, visit Calgary Home + Garden Show