Canadian Shield Rose

Back in stock! Boasting silky, red blooms, the Canadian Shield Rose makes its debut this year, arriving just in time for Canada’s 150 Celebration. Planted in full sun, this shrub will flower for you all summer long.

Bred in Ontario, this rose is a true Canadian creation. And, as part of Canada’s Explorer Rose Series, the Canadian Shield Rose is amazingly hardy—even at temperatures as low as -35°C.

Find the Canadian Shield Rose, plus many other Canadian Explorer Roses, at Hole’s.

Hole's Top 10 Favourite Fruit & Vegetable Varieties

Each year at Hole's, we tweak and perfect the way we grow our crops, so that we can provide you with better choices and the best advice. Here is a list of our absolute favourite fruit & vegetable varieties, sold here, at Hole's Greenhouses.

1. Sweet 150 Tomato

A Canadian favourite, Sweet 150 Tomatoes can produce more than 150 tomatoes per season. Bursting with flavour, these cherry tomatoes are perfect for fresh eating, cooking, & even juicing. Pick up your Sweet 150 Tomato plant today to keep you snacking all season long.

2. Odyssey Apple Tree

If you don’t have an apple tree in your garden yet, what are you waiting for? Developed in Manitoba, Odyssey apples are yellow with red blush. Much like Gala apples, Odyssey apples are very sweet and great for fresh eating. These apples are ready to harvest in mid-September, and store for up to 3 months. 

3. Tumbling Tom Red & Tumbler Cherry Tomato Plants

A unique cherry tomato that is perfect for container growing. Try our Tumbling Tom Red or Tumbler Cherry tomato plants. Like the Minimato Tomato, these varieties are also determinate, meaning they are bred to grow at a compact height and don't need to be pruned. Perfect for container gardening! 

4. Scarlet Nantes Carrot

Because of their sweet and juicy qualities, Scarlet Nantes Carrots are our favourite for snacking, cooking, and topping salads. These carrots grow beautifully in cool weather and shrug-off frost with ease.

5. Cool Breeze Cucumber

Here’s a cucumber that is really different. Cool Breeze is bred to set perfect fruit without cross-pollination. No male pollen is needed, so even if bees are scarce you'll still get a great crop!

If you’re short on space, these cucumbers can also be grown on a fence or a trellis for uniform straight fruit.

6. Cylindra Beets

As its name suggests, Cylindra is a cylindrical beet. This Danish heirloom is smooth-skinned with dark purple-red flesh, and grows a dark red, elongated root.

Cylindra is a favourite in the kitchen due to it's uniform slices and ease of peeling.

Nearly two thirds of the length of the root will grow above ground, so some gardeners like to hill up soil around each plant as the root emerges. This will keep the skins of the root very tender and protect them from insects.

7. Ghost Chili Pepper

Hole's smoking hot garden favourite! Great things come in small packages. The Ghost Chili Pepper is considered one of the world's hottest peppers, measuring between 850,000 and 1 million Scoville units on the heat scale. When ripe, it turns a fiery red!

8. Goliath Tomato

Just as the name suggest, this plant produces enormous beefsteak tomatoes. With tomatoes this big, be sure to provide a cage for support. Great looking plant as well, with high yields—up to 70 tomatoes from a single plant! Great for sandwiches and burgers... if you can find a bun big enough.

9. Bodacious Sweet Corn

The trifecta of corn varieties: great for fresh eating, freezing and canning. High quality sweet corn that has large, mouth-watering kernels. A popular market variety that shows tolerance to common rust and tolerates cold weather conditions better than other varieties.

10. Green Arrow Peas

The best thing about this variety is the pea-pod length. These extra long pods mean a generous yield of sweet, tender peas. Each pod will contain between 9 and 11 peas! Happy picking.

Visit Hole's Greenhouses today for better choices, and the best advice.

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

Blind Luck

Sometimes, when I think about where I am today, I feel like I’m a million miles away from my childhood. Our lives can take so many crazy, unpredictable twists and turns that it almost seems as if we’re ruled by chance.

Luck has certainly played a role in my life’s journey. Yet in many ways, we make our own luck, by recognizing the right paths when we come to them. Looking at it that way, my real luck began with my parents. The outlook and ideals they instilled in me have helped me to make good choices throughout my life. For instance, when chance sent a young fellow named Ted Hole my way, I was able to sense that he was the man for me.

Growing up in the tiny town of Buchanan, Saskatchewan, I often imagined the kind of man I would marry. Like any young girl, I continually changed my image of the perfect man, depending on how old I was or what movies I had seen that week. However, I knew exactly what I didn’t want in a husband. I always told my mother, “No matter what, I’ll never marry a farmer.”

To me, farms seemed like the lonliest places on earth. I much preferred the feeling of being surrounded by people and activity, even though Buchanan wasn’t exactly a bustling metropolis. Once, when a friend’s mother convinced me to come for a holiday at their farm, I ended up crying myself to sleep for four nights straight. I wasn’t invited back.

No, the husband of my dreams was definitely not wearing bib overalls. But then I met Ted.
In 1950, Ted was in the middle of his Bachelor of Agriculture program at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. I was involved with a person that my mother called “a good prospect,” a dashing, responsible young man who had a managerial position with Trans Canada Airlines. As far as my mother was concerned, I had it made. I was pretty happy with my young man, too. My future seemed set.

But fate intervened. My friend Sheila, a nurse, happened to be friends with Ted and had promised to be his date for a Faculty of Agriculture dance later that week. But she got called in to work at the last minute and couldn’t attend.

She didn’t want to leave Ted without a date, so she offered to set him up with one of her friends. Before Sheila could open her mouth to make a suggestion, Ted said, “Sure. How about that blonde one…Lois?” Ted had seen me a couple times in passing, although I have to admit that I hadn’t noticed him at all.

Sheila had been about to name another friend but she couldn’t see any graceful way to refuse Ted’s suggestion. “All right,” she replied, “I’ll ask her.” And so I received a phone call shortly afterward.

“Well, sure I’ll go,” I said agreeably.

Those simple words sealed my fate. Ted turned out to be a pretty handsome guy—I thought he looked like Charlton Heston. I could tell right away how sincere and honest he was.

After a few more dates, he told me that he wanted a farm as soon as he graduated, that even though he had a trade as a plumber, he felt a deep connection to the earth, that he couldn’t imagine a better life than on a farm. He spoke with such passion that I found myself being caught up in the romantic notion of marrying a handsome farmer—despite my childhood vow.
Ted brought me out to the property he had in mind, a small patch of land on the banks of the Sturgeon River.  Because the farm was so close to Edmonton, my childhood fears of isolation were crowded out by other, much happier memories.

As a girl, I spent countless helping my mother in the garden. Though I didn’t always realize it, they were some of the happiest times in my childhood. For my mother, gardening was more of a pleasure than a chore, and she instilled the same feeling in me. If I helped her weed the carrots or water the tomatoes, it wasn’t because she made me do it. I did it because I wanted to. As I looked at Ted, it suddenly seemed to make sense for me to build my future life around growing things.

My mother also gave me a love of music. She was an organist in our local church and played the piano at home almost every day. On days when I was less than enthusiastic about helping in the garden, she’d say to me, “Why don’t you go inside and practice the piano?” As a teenager, I became the church’s substitute organist, and eventually I earned a diploma from the Toronto Conservatory. Ted wasn’t a classical musician, but he loved to play the saxophone—and sometimes even got paid for it! If I ended up with him, I knew there would always be plenty of music in my life.

I also thought of my father. He was a strongly principled man, with deeply held convictions. He raised me to look at life with clear eyes: to judge for myself what was right and what was wrong and to act accordingly. He also showed me, through his example, the value of good, hard work. Standing next to Ted, I sensed the same kind of strength in him.

A few days later, I faced the awkward task of breaking up with my Trans Canada Boyfriend. Mom was not amused.

“Lois, Ted seems like a nice boy, but really, didn’t you always tell me you would never marry a farmer?”

“Well, yes, Mom, but…”

“You always said that farms were the loneliest places you knew.”

“I know, but…”

It went on that way for a while. Ted was hard to resist, though, and he won Mom over soon enough. Dad was even easier to convince: he’d always backed me in whatever (or whomever) I chose to pursue. “Marry the one you love, Lois, whoever that happens to be.”

Ted’s father, on the other hand, presented more of a challenge. Mr. Hole was an impressive figure, and I trembled a little the day he invited Ted and me home for a “chat” about our future plans.

“How are you going to handle farm life, Lois? You know it’s not easy. How are you going to help make ends meet? Are you prepared for a lot of backbreaking work?” The questions came thick and fast. Mr. Hole paused only occasionally to take a puff from his pipe.

To this day, I wonder whether he simply didn’t think a city girl was up to the challenge or whether he was trying, in his own gruff way, to warn me about the hardships that might lie ahead. Was he remarkably insightful about the important role that women play on the farm or simply chauvinistic? Still, I found it ironic that I was getting grilled, even though Ted was the one who wanted to pursue this whole notion of farming.

It was quite an ordeal, but I kept my composure and answered honestly, determined to prove that I was “right for the job.” At the end of the interview, Ted’s father seemed reasonably satisfied. Ted and I breathed a sigh of relief. With parental barriers hurdled, all that remained was the wedding.

When the big event arrived, it was the happiest day of my life. Everything went exactly according to plan—until after the service.

Rather than a car, Ted and I were to drive off in a horse-drawn carriage. We were sitting at the back of the cart on a couple of bales of hay when something startled the horses, causing them to leap forward suddenly. I lost my balance and felt myself tipping over backwards, my feet flying into the air. Several people gasped, sure I was going to crack my head open on the pavement.

But like a knight in shining armour, Ted came to my rescue. He scooped me up in one arm and kissed me, as everyone applauded and cheered.

After the wedding, Ted’s mother came up to me and said, “Lois, you’re very lucky to have married my son.” I could only smile and nod. “You’re right…Mother.”

Thanks to luck and good judgement, not only did I marry a farmer, I became one.

And together, Ted and I have been growing great things ever since. 

-Lois Hole I'll Never Marry A Farmer


Garden Surprise

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of speaking in Buffalo, Alberta. Buffalo is off the beaten path in south central Alberta but I loved driving through the wide-open prairie surrounded by endless sky. And the people of the Buffalo region are fabulous! They were eager to chat and to share their gardening experiences with me.

The one "thing" that I thought was particularly interesting about gardening in the buffalo region is something that must be in the back of the minds of local gardeners, and has to do with a sign that I saw on the highway to buffalo.

 The sign alerts drivers both to the fact that snakes occasionally find there way onto the highways in the region and the importance of drivers watching out for these incredible reptiles.

Now, I’m betting that snakes are an extremely rare find in Buffalo region gardens, but the possibility exists! I just think it would be pretty cool to see these amazing reptiles…at a very comfortable distance, of course.

~Jim Hole

The Dog And The Turkey

Sometimes it’s wise to keep your mistakes to yourself.

One June, the daughter of one of our close friends was getting married. When there’s an occasion like that in a farming community, everybody naturally pitches in. Her family was planning to hold the gift opening on the day after the wedding, and I offered to roast the turkey.

I must say I was pleased with myself when I took it out of the oven. I’d never seen such a glorious-looking bird: it had to be 35 pounds if it was an ounce.

I transported my creation out to the Laurentian, opened the passenger door, and set it onto the floor. As I ran back to the house to grab my purse, the heavenly aroma of the roast turkey wafted through the air.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought it smelled good. As I came back out, I saw our dog’s backside sticking out the door of the car. And boy, was her tail wagging! When I screamed blue murder, she took off, a drumstick clamped defiantly in her mouth.

I was filled with dread as I ran to the car to assess the damage. My heart sank at the thought of all those guests trying to make due with nothing more than rolls and potato salad. But thankfully, the rest of the bird was untouched.

What else could I do? I carefully sliced away the damaged part, climbed into the car, and drove to the reception. By the time I arrived, I had my story straight. “Ted just loves a leg of turkey,” I explained, “and I thought you wouldn’t miss it.”

Ted has laughed about the story ever since. But do me a favour: if you happen to bump into my neighbours, don’t tell on me!

-Lois Hole I'll Never Marry A Farmer

Location, Location, Location

This past week, I chatted with a group of ladies who were all frustrated with their failure to get tulips to grow in their yards. All of them were great gardeners, but none of them could get a single tulip to poke out of the soil, let alone bloom. 

After I asked the ladies the standard tulip questions, it was quite apparent that they had done everything correctly, and there was no apparent reason why they shouldn’t have had a glorious bed of tulip flowers.

Finally, I asked where they were growing their tulips thinking, perhaps, that they were growing them in a container and that the bulbs were freezing solid during the winter.

But the answer to that question was the last one I had expected. One of the ladies looked me in the eyes and simply said: Jamaica. 

Jamaica? This one word answer instantly solved the problem.

Since tulips require several weeks of near freezing temperatures before they have the capacity to bloom, tropical Jamaica cannot provide the chilling required to transform a bulb to a flower. Since chilly weather in Jamaica is anything below, say, 20C, the bulbs were simply incapable of flowering. 

In countries that lack cold weather, aficionados of plants like tulips have few choices but to place the bulbs in refrigerators for a number of weeks so that the chilling requirement of the bulbs is met. Once the bulbs are placed outside after their big chill, they will develop leaves and flowers as they would in more northerly climates. However, while the pre-chilled bulbs in growing in tropical climates emerge from the soil, the tropical heat shortens the blooming period and they never last as long as they do in more northerly climates.

I explained to the ladies – with tongue firmly in cheek - that, unfortunately, Jamaica didn’t have a very good climate. 

Funny, they didn’t share my point of view.

~Jim Hole

Mark About Town

Mom had a tremendous love not only for gardening but also for politics, current affairs, symphony and opera. As a result, I grew up listening to CBC radio because its programming closely matched Mom’s areas of interest. Even though I had a love for Heavy Metal music – which definitely wasn’t a part of the CBC’s programming - I soon grew to appreciate the programming that CBC offered. I later realized that Mom’s love of CBC radio was coupled with her desire to get me to love Handel as I did Hendrix!

Well she succeeded – for the most part. At home, my radio is always tuned to CBC and I do like classical music, but Hendrix will always be a part of my music library.

This Thursday, October 1st CBC will really be hitting close to home because CBC’s Edmonton AM show will be broadcasting from our Glasshouse Bistro. Host Mark Connolly will be doing his monthly ‘Mark about Town’ right in the bistro and we will be providing free Iconoclast coffee and delicious amandine croissants and cinnamon Brioche buns (sponsored by our friends in the Enjoy Centre – Averton Homes) which will be available from 6am -8:30am so pop on down and say high to Mark Connolly and me. 

There will also be draws for Bob Dale gardening gloves, Mom’s Bulb Books and a complete Microgreen, mini-greenhouse growing kit.  And please join me on a tour of our greenhouses. You can see how we grow poinsettias with water captured from our roof.

See you Thursday!

~Jim Hole 

Happy Canada Day!


Every Canada Day, I'm reminded of the rows of maple trees that lined the dirt road on the hillside across the road from our farmhouse.
Dad planted them both for their inherent beauty and because they provided a bit of a windbreak for our strawberry and cucumber patches.
Our maples were Amur maples, not the huge sugar maples whose leaves are featured on the Canadian flag. And while the leaves of our Amur maples lacked the outline of the more stately sugar maples, they were equal to the sugars in developing blazingly red foliage in the fall.
Sugar maples are hardy in our region although they rarely reach the magnificent height of the eastern Canadian maples thanks to our drier and colder climate. However, at maturity, sugar maples are far too large for most yards, while Amur maples are suitable for even the "postage stamp" yards.
Although Amur maple is not an indigenous plant, it is tough, resilient and beautiful. Sounds pretty Canadian to me.
 Happy Canada Day!


~Jim Hole

Rain Barrels


When my brother and I were kids, we loved to jump into the old, 45 gallon, metal rain barrel that sat at the southwest corner of our farmhouse. The water was a bit rusty (because of the corroding metal!) but it was always nice and warm thanks to the barrel’s sunny location.

Since our well water was high in sodium, and therefore not suitable for use on our plants, the slightly rusty, rain barrel water was great to have on hand, and Mom used it on her flowerbeds during dry spells. Of course, one needs rainfall for a rain barrel to be of any use, but even fairly brief showers filled up the barrel rather quickly.

If you plan on getting a rain barrel for you home, don’t go with the rusty type that we had as kids. High quality, UV resistant Gardenware Canada plastic barrels that have a quality brass spigot at the bottom and overflow hose at the top are best. They also come with a mosquito-proof, and more importantly, kid-proof lid.

Yes, I know that I confessed to playing in a barrel when I was a kid, but the danger of drowning was minimal because the top of the barrel came up to my chest. 

Let’s just say that my emotional maturity and physical maturity weren’t separated by a great span of time.

~Jim Hole