Hole's Greenhouse

Mom's Favourite Plant, By Jim Hole

When I think back to Mom and her Mother’s Day ritual, it revolved around ensuring that things went smoothly both in the greenhouses and in the vegetable field.

There really was precious little time for her to relax on Mother’s Day, and even if you were to suggest that she should take it easy on her special day, she couldn’t imagine not being out and about and chatting with customers in our greenhouses.

One question I still get asked regularly is, “What was your Mom’s favourite plant?” It seems like a pretty simple question, but she, like so many avid plant people, didn’t really have a favourite plant.

I did learn a lot about the plants that were dear to her when we walked around the greenhouses and fields. What she loved more than anything on these walkabouts was to graze on fruits and vegetables. She would grab a handful of raspberries, strawberries, currants, gooseberries, Nanking cherries and Saskatoons–among others–and pop them in her mouth. Peas and string beans were other favourites, along with some crunchy cucumbers.

Mom grew up in Buchanan, Saskatchewan and grazing was something that she did frequently in her parent’s garden–it was in her blood!  She also kept cherry tomatoes in containers on her patio so that she could grab a handful anytime she had a craving for some sweet, juicy fruit.

When it came to flowers, she always planted a wide variety of bedding plants because she loved the masses of gorgeous flowers throughout the year. She also planted several rows of gladiolus corms because she loved to use the flower spikes in vases. During the summer, she always had massive displays of ‘glads’ in her living room and kitchen.

Now, while Mom would say that she didn’t have a favourite flower, if you really tried hard, and told Mom to pick just one flower that was special to her, she would always say it was the marigold.

That answer caught a lot of people by surprise because while marigolds are handsome flowers, they aren’t spectacular. Mom chose the marigold because it was the first bedding plant that launched Mom and Dad into their greenhouse business. 


Today, whenever I am in the greenhouses and see the flats of marigolds growing in our greenhouses, I always think of Mom. For me, it’s as much symbolic as it is beautiful.


- Jim Hole

This year, Hole's Greenhouses is carrying the Chica Orange Marigold. Treat your gardens or commercial landscapes to colour all season long. Superior uniformity, early-to-flower, with excellent performance.

Hole's Guide To Mother's Day Gifts

Looking for that perfect Mother's Day gift? Look no further! Hole's has all the products you need to show Mom you care & to help her get into the garden!

Hanging Baskets

Pick up one of our famous hanging baskets for Mom and brighten up your yard, balcony or patio. Online ordering and scheduled delivery available!

Click here to order.


Floral Arrangements

The Floral Studio at Hole's has been hard at work creating an abundance of beautiful bouquets specifically for Mother's Day. Available in a variety of sizes, choose from our Canada 150 theme or Garden theme.

Click here to order.

Hummingbird Feeders

Pick up a hummingbird feeder for Mom and receive a FREE bag of nectar concentrate hummingbird food. A great way to decorate your yard and enjoy the wildlife all at once. With a variety of designs and colours to choose from, you can't go wrong with this gift!

Vicki Sawyer Gift Boxed Mugs

With beautiful graphics, and chip resistant porcelain, get creative with how you use them!

Brier Gardening Products

Hole's carries a wide range of Brier's beautiful kneelers, kneepads, boots and hand tools, offering attractive and practical products to get gardening tasks done in style.


LAFCO Candles & Diffusers

LAFCO products use natural essential oil based fragrances and blown art glass vessels, complimenting any space and creating the perfect ambiance.

Click here to order a LAFCO Candle.

LOVEBLOOM Blooming Tea

A masterpiece of hand-crafted blooming tea. Enjoy a gathering of fresh springtime tea in a heart-shaped tea. Let the heart sink within your teapot and attend the spectacle love has prepared for you.


Canada 150 Gloves

Celebrate Mom and Canada's 150th Birthday with these Hole's exclusive gardening gloves. Available in a variety of sizes, these red and white gloves are the best way to show your Canadian pride this spring. 

Click here to order a pair for Mom!


Kitras Art Glass

Give the gift of inspiration with these unique glass ornaments. Like trees in a forest, no two are alike. Each ornament has a special hang tag story with a sentiment for each theme. All ornaments come ready to give in a gift box.

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Home Decor

Add character to your home with any of our home decor pieces. Put a smile on Mom's face with one of these cheerful welcome signs.


Everygreen Gazing Balls

Gazing balls make a unique sculptural accent for patios and gardens. They date back to 13th century Italy, and are historically thought to bring good luck. They're one of our most popular garden décor items.

DRAMM Watering Cans

Picking up a plant for Mom? Complete the gift with a DRAMM watering can! Available in a variety of sizes and colours, she'll be sure to appreciate the thoughtful gift.

Click here to order a colourful 2L DRAMM watering can for Mom.

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Faux Succulent Arrangements

Realistic and modern, these beautiful arrangements have been designed to add tranquility and bohemian flare to any space. Featuring high quality artificial succulents they are ideal for your home or office.

Study Better... Just Add Plants!

With final exams quickly approaching, Hole's Greenhouses is now offering students a 10% discount on indoor plants. With their air cleaning and oxygen producing capabilities, studies show that plants boost attention spans and increase productivity – making them your best study-buddy yet!

Check out these articles for more information on the benefits of plants:

House Plants Make You Smarter -Scientific American

Plants In Offices Increase Happiness & Productivity -The Guardian

Study better than every before... just add plants!

Dig In: St. Albert's Horticulinary Festival!

Dig-In, St. Albert’s Horticulinary Festival, is an exciting weekend of culinary adventure that will excite you with the possibilities and benefits of eating locally grown food.

Through celebrity hosted meals, along with a series of demonstrations and hands-on workshops, participants will learn how to grow food in an urban setting and to prepare and preserve their own produce. Additionally, those who take part will discover the delicious joy of food they've grown themselves.

Chef Desiree Nielsen, star of the Gusto TV show The Urban Vegetarian, teams up with the Glasshouse Bistro to prepare a special one-time brunch menu. Filled with healthy options and lots of fresh ingredients, this interactive multi-course brunch will allow you to put the finishing touches on some of your dishes and taste some amazing health-boosting brunch options.

Chef Corbin Tomaszeski, star of HGTV's Restaurant Makeover and The Food Network's Dinner Party Wars, teams up with the Glasshouse Bistro to prepare a special, one-time brunch and dinner menu. Flavourful, organic, and locally sourced, these interactive multi-course meals will allow you to taste some recipes right out of Chef Corbin’s kitchen.

Get your tickets today at: www.diginstalbert.ca

Spring Is Here!

OK, I might have jumped the gun just a bit, but I can’t help but get excited about spring because all of our garden seed has arrived and is on the floor. And there is nothing quite like shelves full of colourful seed packages for inciting a good dose of spring fever.
Now if you think that it is too early to buy seeds, you’re correct – well, sort of. True, there are only a select few varieties that should be started indoors in January, but the main problem with not buying seeds early is that some sell-out very quickly.

Every year, I talk to many gardeners who don’t start buying their seeds until March and April and are disappointed that some of their favourites are already sold-out.
And it seems that sold-out vegetables and fruits cause the greatest disappointment. For example, specific varieties of tomatoes like Mortgage Lifter, Stupice and Black Krim or "superfoods" like Kale or novelty vegetables like golden beets and corn salad (mache) top the list.

The strategy for avoiding disappointment is simple: Get the seeds early and hang on to them until you are ready to sow. All types of seed will store just fine provided you keep them in a dry spot that is not excessively warm.
I often get questions about whether or not seed is damaged if it is frozen. The quick answer is that seed – even seeds of hot weather crops like squash, cucumbers and melons – is not damaged by subzero temperatures.  But never store any seed in your refrigerator. It’s not cold that is a problem, rather it’s moisture inside the fridge that is not good for longevity and viability.
One last word on storing seed. Watch for rodents. Mice absolutely love corn and cucumber seed.
Years ago we overwintered a 50lb bag of corn seed and a 20lb bag of cucumber seed in our shed. Come spring, there wasn’t a single seed of either vegetable left to plant. We assumed the shed was well sealed and rodent-proof but the mice managed to ‘break-in’ and enjoy a delicious feast.
I’ve since learned to never underestimate the ingenuity and adaptability of hungry mice. Keep all of your seed in sealed containers wherever you are planning on storing it.

~Jim Hole

More Than A Gift

A nurse from the U of A Hospital came to see me about her orchid. This orchid was particularly special because it was a gift from my son and daughter-in-law one Christmas to thank her for the wonderful care my 3-year old grandson had received when he was in the hospital.
This same orchid, still thriving 15 years later, was growing well but desperately needed to be repotted. She was terrified to transplant it herself because she didn’t want to kill it.
As we talked some more, she told me that she cherished this particular plant because it was a reminder of the good she tries to do every day.
I remember a woman who brought in a tired looking peace lily that she wanted us to help her repot and clean up.  She had given it to her mother many years ago when her mom was moved into an assisted living home. Her mother had diligently cared for it every day. When mom passed away that peace lily became the one living memory of her mom and she desperately wanted to keep it.
Plants are unique gifts. They don't get put in closets, or eaten, or forgotten.
They can remain in a home or office for years, requiring only simple, regular care.
Plants can be more than just a gift. They can be symbols of love, affection and gratitude. They respond to care and nurture, and over the years, plants can become a cherished reminder of those special people that gave them to us, and the memories we associate with them.

-Lois Hole

"Bulb Empowering"

When I hear the term "forcing" bulbs, I usually envision someone holding a flower bulb over a compost bin and yelling, "This is your last chance dammit! Bloom or I’m dropping you in."
But the term "bulb forcing" really hasn’t arisen out of any ill feelings towards bulbs. It’s used simply to describe a technique where one schedules flower bulbs to bloom within a particular time frame.
Amaryllis, Narcissus and Hyacinth are examples of forced bulbs that are commonly grown in our homes. At the greenhouses, we have a bunch that are quite content to sit dormant in boxes on our store shelves and wait patiently for customers to pot them for forcing indoors.
Each variety of forcing bulbs has its own "weeks to flower" schedule, based largely on its genetic make-up. Bulbs like Narcissus bloom quickly once potted-up, while Hyacinth and Amaryllis take a bit longer to display their gorgeous flowers.
Flowering times can be sped-up or slowed-down, somewhat, by manipulating temperatures. Cool temperatures delay flowering while warm temperatures reduce the time to flower.

Beyond their beauty, what I really like about forced bulbs is that they require so little care. The growers who have carefully nurtured them have already done most of the work. All I that I have to do is drop them into pots, add water, and enjoy.
Come to think of it, given that potting up a bulb is such a gentle and nurturing activity, coupled with our modern sensitivity to labeling things, perhaps its time to replace the harsh term "bulb forcing" with something like "bulb empowering".
Maybe "bulb emancipation" is an even better phrase, since we liberate the bulbs from their dry packages and transplant them into warm, moist, potting soil. Or perhaps consider "Manipulation of florogenesis of geophytes" if plant science is your thing.
Hmm… with some sober second thought, I think "bulb forcing" sounds just fine.

~Jim Hole

Marvelous Mums


Fall mums are some of the most spectacular plants for our gardens. No other fall-flowering plant can match the colour of mums and they always arrive just when our gardens are looking a little brown and need a little brightening-up.
When it comes to fall mums there are roughly three categories based on flowering period: early, mid-season and late. Early varieties start blooming in August and into mid-September. Mid-season varieties bloom from late September and well into October, while the late varieties are for late October and November.
By now, anyone who purchased the early varieties (August-September bloomers) can see that they are well past their prime and have more dead blossoms than they do vibrant flowers. But, the mid-season types are just beginning to bloom. Mid-season types are, usually, bigger and more floriferous than their early season cousins and with cooler October temperatures, will last much longer than the early maturing varieties.
While garden mums won’t be killed by hard frosts, the blossoms can be damaged. What I like to do is leave the mums in their plastic pots and then just drop them into a slightly-larger, decorative pot so that they can be pulled out and placed in the garage should the night temperatures get really cold. Beyond giving them shelter when needed, mid-season mums just require some watering to keep them looking spectacular often until Halloween, and sometimes beyond.
If you are wondering about the late season mums keep in mind that, by November, we often get some pretty cold temperatures. Having said that, I have seen years where late season mums looked incredible well into the third week of November.

For me, the reward of seeing spectacular mums blooming in November outweighs the risk of damage from deep cold or heavy snowfalls!
Who knows, could this be the year of blooming garden mums in early December? I doubt it, but stranger things have happened!
Risk versus reward – everyone has their own formula.

~Jim Hole

Second Pruning Workshop Added!

Thanks to everyone who attended last weekend’s pruning workshop. With close to 400 people attending, it was a little crowded and I thank everyone for their patience and a special thanks to those who helped move additional chairs into the greenhouse!
I apologize that I was unable to answer everyone’s questions on Sunday, so I thought it would be wise to have another pruning session on Saturday, October 15th at 1pm here at the greenhouses. If you missed last Sunday’s pruning workshop, or if you didn’t get your questions answered, please feel free to sign-up online or by phone for the workshop.
Also, thanks for so many great questions from the audience members. There was a lot of territory covered; everything from pruning raspberries and grapes to training apple trees into an espalier form. I suspect the next workshop will be a little smaller and a bit more intimate, however, it will be the last pruning event until early next year.
Now I know that some of you are probably thinking that I need to space out my pruning workshops for safety’s sake. This past spring I talked about the incredible sharpness of the "Corona Razortooth Pruning Saw" and no sooner had the words come out of my mouth, I then proceeded to cut my left index finger. On Sunday I, once again, talked about the sharpness of the pruning saw and managed to cut my left index finger in the same spot.

So whether you are coming to workshop to learn about pruning or just want to see if I will have a "threepeat" I look forward to seeing you on the 15th !

~Jim Hole

Autumn Tomatoes

The end of the 2016 tomato season is rapidly approaching. That doesn’t mean that you need to run out to the garden and strip every last fruit of off each plant, but you do want to keep a close eye on the weather. If frost threatens, keep some "Cloud Cover" fabric handy and drape it over the tomatoes. The fabric will provide a few degrees of frost protection for the foliage and fruit.
When it comes time for the final harvest both ripe and green fruit can be gathered. Green tomatoes will ripen inside your home provided it has reached the "breaker" stage. The breaker stage is the point where the fruit has reached sufficient maturity so that it will change colour once indoors. Fruit that hasn’t reached the breaker stage–indicated by a deep green colour–will not mature inside regardless of what treatments you provide. Light green tomatoes have excellent flavour but the deep green ones are, typically, inedible.
One technique that a lot of people love, is to cut-off the entire tomato plant at ground level–fruit intact–and hang the plants upside down in a heated shed or garage. The tomato plants continue to send sugars to the fruit–if only for a short period of time–allowing some of the fruit on the "fringe" to ripen. The other good thing is that hung tomatoes are less inclined to rot while hanging because of better air movement.

~Jim Hole

FREE Pruning Workshop with Jim Hole!

Over the years, I would say that the main reason people don’t prune their trees and shrubs is due to a fear that pruning of the irreparable damage it cause.
But while it’s true, that a bad pruning job can lead to some serious tree and shrub problems, doing nothing can be even worse. That is why I’m putting on a fall pruning workshop.
Given that the spring pruning workshops were so popular, and the fact that a lot of pruning can be done in the fall, I’m offering an hour long pruning session on Sunday, September 21st for everyone who would like to know more about the principles of tree and shrub pruning and the equipment required to get the job done safely and effectively. The session is free and all that you need to do is sign-up on line and pop out.
And don’t forget to bring along your questions on anything from fall raspberry pruning to pruning huge American Elms.
And, no, there won’t be any lessons on how to climb a 20 metre tall Elm with a chainsaw in hand – that’s for certified arborists – but I will talk about all of the pruning jobs that you can comfortably tackle yourselves and the essential tools needed for safe and effective pruning.
Looking forward to seeing you on the 21st!

~Jim Hol

Only 131 Days Left Until Christmas!

This week, our growing team is – wait for it – pinching poinsettias for the Christmas season!
This time of year, I much prefer thinking about summer barbeques and cycling, but poinsettias have their own agenda. They need a good four months in our growing range to attain their full glorious colour in time for the beginning of the holiday season, so scheduling them correctly is critical. Poinsettias need to "bulk up" before the nights become longer than the days in late September. Once the short days start, poinsettias are triggered to initiate flowers and there is little that can be done to increase their final size.

Now, while I have you thinking Christmas, however fleeting that thought is, now is the time to at least give your Christmas office party some thought. Danny Hooper and his gang are returning to Hole’s this December for their annual "Deck the Hall Ball" multi-company Christmas party. It’s a party that is not to be missed and was so popular last year that it Danny has added additional nights on the schedule (December 9th , 10th ,16th and 17th).

It’s easy to buy tickets online by going to Dannyhooper.com and clicking on events. There will be great food from our Glasshouse Bistro and the wonderful down home fun that only Danny can deliver.
 And, of course, there will be poinsettias adorning the tables if we stick to the schedule!

Eight Varieties, Two Trees

If you’re a bit indecisive or simply like the idea of having a number of different apple varieties on one tree, multi-grafted apples are the answer. 

Just by planting two multi-grafted apples you can harvest 8 different apple varieties and have a continuous supply of fruit beginning in August and continuing right through into October – weather permitting, of course.

One suggestion that I would make is to use metal tags to label the trees, or at the very least, take some notes and photographs of your apples so that you know which apple varieties are which. Most of us believe that we will remember the names of the apples and where they are located on the tree, but – if you are like me – your memory might not be quite as sharp as you think it is from one year to the next!

Multigraft Tree #1

•    Compact variety with yellowish-green fruit that is washed with red. Good for both fresh eating and cooking. Usually ready to eat in August.
•    Light green fruit with red stripes. Discovered in Manitoba and super cold hardy. Great fresh and cooked.
•    Smaller fruit. Pale green striped with red. Good for fresh eating and cooking. From Battleford Saskatchewan
•    Yellowish-green skin with bright red blush and stripes. Mildly sweet fruit. Very good for fresh eating. Matures in late August.

Multigraft Tree #2

•    One of the very best tasting apples. Honeycrisp are juicy, crispy and grown commercially. They are often found on grocery store shelves.
•    This is a hardier cousin of the venerable ‘MacIntosh’ apple. It shares much of the same delicious flavour of the MacIntosh but is tends to be smaller.
•    See above!
•    One of my favourite apples, Norkent is crispy with a great balance of sugar and tartness and is one of the best dessert apples for the prairies.
Heyer 12
•    Heyer 12 originated as a seedling from Russia and serves as the rootstock. It is very tough and produces yellow fruit that is a bit. Excellent for juice and sauce but its main attribute is cold hardiness.

What Lies Below

Over the years, I’ve received thousands of leaf, stem, and soil samples from gardeners who need help figuring out why their plants aren’t growing the way they should, and how to get them back on track.

Often, the diagnostics are pretty straight-forward and simple. If the problem is a large insect - like a cabbageworm - identification is pretty easy and there are a number of good products available for control. 

But many plant problems are more complex than voracious cabbageworms, and a lot of background information is critical when performing the "Plant Forensics”. Good samples of plant parts, lots of good photographs, soil samples, and historical data are really valuable tools for solving the really difficult plant problems. 

Since trees are some of most high-priced and expensive garden plants, they comprise the majority of the plant samples that I receive and they are often the toughest problems to solve. 

The one tip that I will offer those who have tree problems is to spend as much time looking "down" as you do looking "up". Trees are analogous to icebergs in a way. Just as about 90% of an iceberg’s mass is below the sea surface, 90% of the serious problems that I see with trees originate below the soil surface.

And neither ships nor trees fare well when due consideration is not given to what lies below.

~Jim Hole

Words To Live By

The “Golden Rule” might be the most important sentence ever written. It’s such a simple thought, so eloquently stated: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If we could just root our society in that good soil, the world would be a much better place.

But the golden rule isn’t much good if you apply it only to your friends and family. It goes for everyone. Likewise, in business, you should treat the newest member of the staff with the same respect you treat the CEO.

Whenever there’s a complaint at our greenhouse, we tell our staff to err on the side of the customer. As a result, almost every problem gets dealt with quickly and pleasantly. Every once in a while, however, there’s an exception.

Early in our gardening days, a neighbour named Laura Henry came to work for me. At first, she’d just stop by once in a while and say, “Can I give you a hand?” She’d help out for an hour or two, and I’d go off to eat my lunch. Gradually, I came to rely on her so much that I hired her permanently.

Laura was a great person to have around when things got busy. She could really handle customers well. When she was in a hurry, however, she did make the occasional mistake—which was easy to do on those old dial scales.

Once, after she had sold a fellow a bag of cucumbers, he came back to her terribly annoyed. He threw the bag onto the scale and snapped, “Weigh that!” She weighed it and was so far out it was terrible. She apologized and gave the man his refund.

Even though I felt bad about the blunder, my sympathies were with Laura. The situation could have been just as easily resolved without anger. “Excuse me,” he could have said, “I think there’s been an error.” The saddest part is that the man knew Laura. It was an honest mistake, yet he treated her like a criminal.

In the vegetable business, scales are finicky things and are continually out, but we lost more often than the customers. We’ve always tried our best to fix the mistakes, but in the end my staff is there to serve, not to be subservient.

Treat people the way you expect to be treated: let your example say it all.

-Lois Hole I'll Never Marry A Farmer

Something Almost Magical

We once planted a large patch of tomatoes right next to our house, on a south-facing wall. As usual, we planted extra, since it wasn’t unusual for only a portion of the crop to come to fruition. Wouldn’t you know it—the season turned out to be perfect! The summer was long and hot, with just the right amount of moisture. As a result, we wound up with tons of tomatoes, more than we could ever hope to use or sell.

One day, a friendly Italian man was driving by and spotted the tomato motherlode. With a grin, he offered to take away any extras we had. Well, we filled the box of his 1958 Chevy half-ton right to the brim. He told us he was going to make the load into sauce—surely enough to last a lifetime! A tomato or two bounced out of the back of the truck as he drove off with a happy wave. 

I’ve always believed that no other vegetable can produce such spontaneous joy in people; there’s just something magical about tomatoes.

A Good Start

Tomatoes need a lot of care, and choosing a location for them is just the first step. I always make sure to give them one of the garden “hot spots,” along our south-facing wall. With our climate, I put transplants into the garden, and I always use top-quality plants. Buying poor plants never makes sense; use good quality plants that are sure to bear lots of fruit rather than poor plants that won’t yield well. I always ensure that the plants have been “hardened off,” that is, acclimatized to the harsher conditions they face outdoors. Plants that haven’t been properly hardened off will be set back.

I’m alert to cool night-time temperatures and ready to run to the rescue when necessary. If there is any threat of frost, I cover the plants with blankets or towels: tomatoes simply can’t take the cold.

I use cages for my determinate (bush) tomato plants. Although it isn’t strictly necessary, I find these plants benefit from the use of cages, since bush tomato plants tend to spread across the ground. The foliage becomes quite thick and bushy, protecting the fruit from sun scald, but fruit often lay on the ground. Cages hold the fruit of the soil, decreasing the threat of slugs and soil-borne diseases. Tall-growing indeterminate tomato plants, of course, must be staked and pruned.

Caring for tomatoes may be demanding work, but biting into the sweet, red fruit makes it all worthwhile.

-Lois Hole I'll Never Marry A Farmer

The Seedling Boogie Woogie

Dad loved to sow bedding plant seeds. His first "sowing machine" was a hair clipper that Mom used to cut Dad’s hair. Dad attached a V-shaped piece of aluminum to the cutter end and would simply dump some seeds onto the "V", turn on the clipper, and the seeds would jump and separate so that they could be evenly distributed into the seedling flats. Dad had a really good eye for getting the seeds spaced just right in the flats, and he would check them every day to see how they were growing.

For the most part, Dad had great success growing seedlings with his "high tech" seeder and steady hand, but I remember one day when things got out of hand.

It was a March morning many years ago, when Dad decided that four flats of seedlings had grown to just the right stage for transplanting, so he gathered them up – two balanced on each arm – and was moving them to the transplanting area. He looked proud of the great job he had done – and justifiably so – because the germination was near perfect and the seedlings were tough and stocky. 

But as Dad was cautiously carrying the seedling flats to the transplanting area where Mom was waiting, he inadvertently stepped onto a greenhouse floor drain that should have had a metal grate over it, but for whatever reason, didn’t. The moment his foot hit the drain, Dad did a kind of, how shall I say, "boogie woogie" move somewhat reminiscent of a young lady trying to balance on impossibly tall high heels.

 The flats went flying in all directions and hundreds of valuable seedlings were scattered everywhere! Dad was unhurt but he was so angry with himself at the devastation that when Mom tried to calm him down he just got more angry. 

However, when Dad noticed that one seedling flat had escaped most of the damage by landing right side up on the floor I could see Dad’s demeanor change from rage to complete calm. He walked over to the unscathed flat, gently picked it up with his thumb and index finger on each side of the plastic flat. I thought, wow, what great composure Dad had after losing so many valuable seedlings. 

But then Dad did something that I didn’t see coming. He delicately threw the remaining good flat into the air much like a professional punter would do with a football, and kicked the flat as hard as he could. For a brief moment I was in shock, but within seconds we were all laughing at the absurdity of watching the flat spiral through the greenhouse.

Dad’s philosophy was that if you are going to do a job, do it to the best of your ability, but if you’re going to screw it up, then you might as well really screw it up! Whenever, I screw something up – which is not a rare as I would like it to be – the imagery of Dad and the flats always comes to mind. It is, strangely enough, very comforting.

~Jim Hole

A Life Well Lived

People sometimes marvel at my busy schedule and ask me how I find the energy to manage it. I don’t think I’m some kind of superwoman. I pretty much take things as they come and deal with them one at a time. If life starts to get a little crazy, there’s no reason to go crazy along with it. Stay calm, keep moving, and you’ll always find a way to work things through.

My mother-in-law was a much busier woman than I’ll ever be, and I never heard her complain, not once.  Grandma Hole knew what it was to work. In an era where child-rearing was largely the job of the mother, she raised nine children—seven boys and two girls—and she was there for each of them. And this was a woman who didn’t even have a washing machine until after her fifth child was born!

She always found a way to make every minute of her day count. If a friend dropped by for coffee, Grandma Hole always had her mending bag handy, so she could darn socks while she chatted.

Likewise, she never wasted a single speck of food. She fed nine children on a very limited budget. But nobody cooked a better meal. Nothing fancy, but always very tasty. She prepared the big meal at noon, and in the evening it was a salad, some cold meat, some nice bread, and lots of tea. She was great at making bread pudding and other puddings with sauces. Those puddings taught me that there’s something to be said for English cuisine after all!

From todays’ perspective, Grandma Hole’s life might seem overly traditional and confining. I know she never felt that way, though. She took great pride in running a comfortable, supportive, efficient household. Although she was never involved in her husband’s plumbing business, they both recognized the indirect role she played in its success. If she hadn’t been able to handle things so well at home, that business wouldn’t have stood much of a chance.

She also saw her own success reflected in the lives of her children. She was determined that all of her children would be educated—including her daughters, an attitude not shared by everyone in those days. If she found one of her girls doing housework, she would say, “Don’t bother with that. I can do the housework, but I can’t do your studying for you.”

As a result, all nine of her children graduated from the University of Alberta. At the time, this was an astonishing achievement. The Edmonton Journal published the story, complete with a picture, and that clipping remained a treasured keepsake for the rest of her life.

If I do one thing differently form Grandma Hole, it’s that I try to take time to truly relax. I remember her telling me once, “I always felt guilty if I was reading a book, because I thought I should be doing something more productive.” If she was reading when her husband came home, she quickly put the book away and got busy doing something else. When she got older and could afford to relax a little, she realized she really didn’t know how.

Just the same, she has always remained an inspiration to me. She taught me that by caring for others, and helping them succeed, you can create a truly successful and fulfilling life for yourself. Anytime I feel I’m under too much pressure, or have too much to do, I take a deep breath and ask myself, “How would Grandma Hole have dealt with this?”

Thanks, Grandma Hole.

-Lois Hole I'll Never Marry A Farmer

Thoughtful Husband

This past weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to sold-out sessions on one of my favourite topics: vegetable gardening.

Given, the large number of people who attended the weekend sessions, I think 2016 will be the "year of vegetable gardening" in Canada. Let’s face it, with vegetable prices sky high in grocery stores, there is a pretty good chance that lawns may be sharing a portion of their real estate with lettuce!

If you missed last weekend’s talks, don’t worry. We are running them again in the upcoming weeks. The sessions are free but you do need to register. And keep in mind that even if you don’t have a penchant for vegetable gardening, I always leave plenty of time at the end for answering any gardening questions from turf to trees. It's always a favourite among attendees. 

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. And I must confess here and now that I couldn’t put together an attractive flower arrangement if my life depended on it. I might have peaked early - in grade 1, I think - when I gave my Mom a bouquet of dandelions!

Now-a-days, I rely on our skilled Floral Studio to assemble beautiful Valentine bouquets for my wife, and I’ve even gone one step further. I am on the "Unforgettable Bouquet" program that, essentially means our Floral Studio puts together a floral arrangement for me every month that I can take home. The flowers are spectacular, brighten our home and, for the most part, keep me in the "thoughtful" husband category without me having to remember to bring flowers home. Monthly bouquets are fabulous, but at the very least, they are terrific for the important dates that you can’t afford to miss like birthdays, anniversaries and, of course, Valentine’s Day.  

~Jim Hole


For more information on our Unforgettable Bouquet program,
please give us a call at 780 419 6800