Growing up, we often spent time in the garden with my parents. A point of pride in our Sault Ste. Marie neighbourhood, gardens were a focal point and key source of friendly competition (especially when it came time to harvest zucchini!). We were surrounded by neighbours who had an obvious passion for their lush, abundant gardens – and the bounties of fruit, vegetables and flowers they produced. At our house, the garden was where the best conversations happened.
This passion for gardening is something I’m lucky enough to channel in my role as Senior Category Manager, Garden Centre at Walmart Canada. If you’ve ever wondered who decides which products come into the store, that’s a large part of my role. I’ve been with Walmart for 16 years, starting as an apparel buyer, and moved into my current role in 2018. As anyone at Walmart will tell you, there are so many opportunities here to go beyond what you know and to dive into something new. I knew the role would be a tremendous opportunity to blend passion and work in an area that would be challenging.
Something I’m most proud of is that over 95% of plants available in our Garden Centres are grown in Canada. This strong partnership with local suppliers across Canada allows us to bring in a wide assortment of plants to help Canadians enhance their own gardens. We’ve seen four years of steady year-over-year growth in Garden Centre, which makes me confident we’re delivering on the wants and needs of our customers and providing value.
A supplier once told me that we sell happiness in our Garden Centres from coast-to-coast and I couldn’t agree more. I see gardening as fashion for your house: it helps us to create moments of joy and spaces where we find comfort. It’s also the perfect, lower-cost activity to do with kids of all ages – especially during a pandemic! There’s nothing kids love more than digging in the dirt, playing with worms and experiencing the joy of watching a plant grow from seed. My own daughter is currently completing her masters in Landscape Architecture at UBC and I like to think all those years in the garden with me stoked her interest.
I often help friends and family – and our customers – create their own gardening plans. I always recommend approaching gardening like you approach learning to cook: start with a basic recipe and build off it as you become more comfortable.
If you’re looking to update your own garden this long weekend, I’d love to share some of my top tips with you.
Garden for good by choosing plants that help pollinators. These beautiful plants are clearly labeled in our Garden Centres to help you introduce blooms, bushes and more that attract and sustain pollinators.
Tip: leave dandelions to flourish on your lawn a bit longer this spring: they’re a first food source for bees fresh out of hibernation.
Go beyond traditional landscaping options and plant some herbs for a surprising, edible addition to your beds. Oregano and thyme are fragrant picks that give a big, fluffy look and currently have a home in my front yard flowerbeds. Garlic plants grow big spiky leaves and might surprise you with a beautiful bloom.
Kelly Heshka is a Senior Category Manager at Walmart Canada.