The Avant-Garden Shop: Your Garden & Bird Store

Garden Gate: Episode 28 – L’Immaginaria

cardialCHEX TV Air Date: Friday, Dec. 27, 2014

Click here to view this episode of The Garden Gate.

On this episode of The Garden Gate, I’m speaking with local artist Lisa Martini-Dunk about her wonderful scratch board art.

Lisa is inspired by nature and by her imagination to create her stunning works of art, and lives in East City (Peterborough).

Lisa begins with an idea and then a sketch. Once she’s happy with the image she begins to create her work. Using a special black paper board she scratches away the black parts to leave the image behind. Almost working in reverse. ?Then special paint is used to add colour. She will transfer the image to her computer where she is able to define or “punch up” the colours. ?She will print the card and then hand coat them with a product to bring out the sheen. ?You’d think she was done then, but no, she chooses a paper that specially matches the image or colours on the paper. What a wonderful and thoughtful gift.

We carry her beautiful cards. Each is a limited edition with only approx. 20 of each image being printed.


Garden Gate: Episode 27 – SolMate Socks

daffodilChex TV airdate, Fri. Dec. 13, 2013

Click here to view this episode of The Garden Gate.

On this episode of The Garden Gate I spoke about our wonderful socks! ?Yes, we sell socks! ?

A few years ago while travelling in the US, I found these socks in a little shop with American made crafts. ?I fell in love with them and wore them a lot! ?I loved coming home from work and pulling on my comfy socks each night. ?As the cold winter nights progressed I would stare at my cozy feet (on the coffee table-sorry mom!) and wonder if this would be something that my customers would also like…

So I did some research and found out where they were from and excitedly placed my first order. I was so happy when they arrived and snagged a couple more pairs for myself. ?Customers responded well and also fell in love with them. See them on our website here.

As I was doing research for this Garden Gate episode I found out more about this company that I didn’t know previously. ?Marianne Wakerlin started knitting at a young age making colourful socks and scarves for friends and family. ?Years and 100’s of socks later she decided to turn her craft into a business. ?She now has a family run knitting mill in Vermont making the socks for her.

They do their best to reduce waste during the production process. Some socks don’t come out quite right so they are reused and made into hats! So far they have made close to 5000 hats out of sock seconds! But, there are still scraps from the hat making process and these are given away for free for re-purposing. ?They also send knitting waste to a rug maker turning over 5000lbs of knitting waste into rugs! ?In addition they take advantage of a program run by UPS and Native Energy to purchase Carbon offsets.

As many of our customers will tell you, these socks make them happy when they wear them. (We’ve nicknamed them Happy Socks!) ?I now have 7 pairs and wear them everyday – so I’m always happy! ?I hope you’ll drop in soon to see our wonderful socks, because LIFE’S TOO SHORT FOR MATCHING SOCKS!


Customer Appreciation Night – Thursday Nov. 21st, 2013

2012 store frontFor quite a few years we’ve been hosting a Customer Appreciation Night in November. This year it’s from 5:30 to 8:30pm on Thursday November 21st.

Other shops on Sherbrooke also participate including The Pasta Shop. The Electric City Bread Company, Larry Electric and Green Street.

You’ll love the refreshments, door prizes, meet some of the artists who have their items in our shop and you’ll also enjoy NO TAX store wide!

We hope you’ll join us for the evening. It’s always a wonderful time! ?Bring a friend!!

I look forward to thanking you in person for your ongoing support of my business.

Sincerely, Brenda Ibey


Garden Gate: Episode 26 – Buy Canadian


CHEX TV airdate: Friday Nov. 29th, 2014

Click here to view this episode of The Garden Gate.?

Why is it important to buy gifts that are Made in Canada?

You hear about the 100 mile diet – how far did that item you just purchased have to travel to get to you?

Are the people making the item getting a fair wage for what they are creating? Do they have health care? Education???

Coasters ML (8)It’s sometimes impossible to know the answer to these questions, when the item has come from a container that was shipped half way around the world! ?When you buy Canadian and from someone who knows about the product, you can usually get the answer to your questions and feel good about your purchase. ?And once you know that information, you can decide where best to spend your hard earned dollars.

During this episode of The Garden Gate, you’ll learn a few facts about the many Canadian made items available at The Avant-Garden Shop, and answers to some of these questions. I hope you’ll tune in or drop by and ask some questions!



Garden Gate: Episode 25-Basic Spirit Pewter, Nova Scotia


CHEX air date: Friday Nov. 15th, 2013

Click here to view this episode of?The Garden Gate.

The folks from Basic Spirit love to design and create products that touch the heart and delight the spirit. All of their pewter is handcrafted in their seaside studio in Pugwash, Nova Scotia. They use the highest quality pewter alloys available and sell their products through many of the finest handcraft galleries and gift stores in North America (including The Avant-Garden Shop).

Pugwash, a small village of approximately 800 residents is located on the north shore of Nova Scotia, and is known for its heritage of pewtersmithing and peace. It is the birthplace of the internationally respected Pugwash Movement which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995. If you’re ever in Pugwash, you can visit their retail store.

CO-308Basic Spirit contribute 10% of profits to charitable organizations and programs. The ornaments are packaged so the recipient will see where the donations are going. ?For example when you purchase the “Plant-A-Tree” ornament, a donation is made to the Nature Conservancy of Canada to plant a tree! Others include an animal shelter, a food bank, Cancer society, a school in Kenya etc. A gift within a gift!



Garden Gate: Episode 24 – Bella Luz studio


CHEX TV air date: Friday Nov. 1st, 2013

Click here to view this episode of?The Garden Gate.

This summer, my husband and I traveled to the West Coast to visit the Bella Luz studio just outside of Seattle, Washington. ?

Artist Joline El-Hai has been creating her beautiful works for many years and welcomed us into her studio.

We currently carry her beautiful copper night lights called “Luminettes” and her “Tri-Corner Lanterns” which reflect beautiful light in all directions.

While we couldn’t take CHEX TV with us to Seattle, we did take some photos which are posted on our Facebook page.?

Garden Gate: Episode 23 – Sea Buckthorn ( Wonder product)

SoapCHEX TV airdate: Fri. Oct. 18th, 2013

Click this link to view this episode of?The Garden Gate.

Sea Buckthorn creams, soaps and body wash now available at The Avant-Garden Shop.

This product is Made in Canada by Bee by the Sea. Even the shrubs are grown in Ontario!

If you haven’t heard of Sea Buckthorn yet, you will soon! ?

Sea Buckthorn is known to combat dry skin, fade age spots and help prevent and treat wrinkles. ?Sea Buckthorn aids in the healing of rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, burns (radiation and sun), and damage due to laser surgery.

The fruit and plant oils are ideal for skin and hair health due to high levels of the following nutrients:

-Rich in Omega 3-6-9 and 7!

-15 times the vitamin C of oranges per volume

-Second highest source of vitamin E in the plant world

-Loaded with Beta Carotene

-Plus 18 amino acids, corticoids, tocopherols & falvenoids

Bee by the Sea’s skin care line is specially formulated with Sea Buckthorn fruit, seed and pulp oils in combination with honey, royal jelly and other healthy ingredients to nourish your skin. The products are paraben-free, petroleum-free and not tested on animals.



Garden Gate: Episode 22 – Toad houses and Slug Pubs!


CHEX TV airdate: Fri. Oct. 4th, 2013

Click here to view this episode of?The Garden Gate.

Local Artist Heathyr Francis was my guest this week.? Heathyr is a potter who calls her business

This is her first year in business and I was honoured to be asked to mentor her through the Summer Company Program?.?? Place in Nature Studio.? As the name suggests she creates works that find their Place in Nature!

Heathyr is very creative and seems to come up with new ideas almost weekly. We carry her beautiful toad houses and slug pubs! These make very special and unique gifts for the gardener in the family. Each piece is one of a kind and stunning.?


Garden Gate: Episode 21-Suet and Peanut Feeders

fatball-feeder-ring-bCHEX TV air date: Fri. Sep. 20th, 2013

Click here to view this episode of ?The Garden Gate.

Blue Jays, woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches and many other birds love peanuts and suet.? Even cardinals! The peanuts and suet give them the extra carbohydrates they need to stay warm through the long winter nights.

There are a variety of feeders in which you can offer peanuts. Peanuts in the shell work nicely in the wreath feeders or other feeders with large openings.? These feeders offer some challenge to the bird, making them take some extra time to get the seed out. This means you get a great look at the bird while he is struggling to pull the seed out or peck at it until the delicious kernel is retrieved.? You can also offer shelled peanuts which birds peck at through a mesh and get little kernels which they gobble down quickly.? Shelled peanuts are actually more cost effective and also less messy. No shells left behind to clean up!

Please buy fresh peanuts!? Old stale peanuts can go rancid and the bird will not eat them. Our seeds are the freshest you can get. Your birds will love them!

Suet can also be offered year round, providing that you choose good quality suet.? Poor quality suet will melt in the summer heat and also contains many types of filler that the birds don?t enjoy and will leave behind.? At The Avant-Garden Shop, we offer Millcreek bird food and also suet.? All of their suet is double rendered, which means it is very dense and doesn’t melt or fall apart easily. The Summer Nut suet is even thicker and will not melt even in our summer heat.

We also offer pure suet, which grackles and starlings tend to shy away from. It is their least favourite. It is a softer suet and will melt in high heat, so should only be offered late in the season and through the winter.

Upside down suet feederThere are a variety of suet feeders that hold the suet blocks. We have upside down suet feeders (Starlings dislike this style), feeders with tail props (which the Hairy woodpecker loves) and also the regular square cages. We have the cages for single suet cakes, two or even four suet cakes. ?We also have a suet log feeder which has holes in which you can push a special “peanut butter” type suet.

For the Christmas season we also offer solid seed wreaths, suet ?acorns? and other fun items that you can give as a gift to the person who wants little or nothing.? It?s a ?gift for the birds!?


Garden Gate Episode 20 – Wasp traps and deterrents

Wasp be gone unitCHEX TV air date: Fri. Sept. 6th, 2013

Click here to view this episode of ?The Garden Gate.

Wasps have been extra aggressive this year mostly due to lack of rain. Normally we get people into the shop looking for wasp traps and deterrents in August, but this year the requests began in June already!

We have a variety of options to deal with wasps including fake wasp nests to deter wasps from building new nests. Wasps are very territorial and if they see an existing nest they won’t build another within 200 feet of it.

We also carry wasp traps which attract and trap the wasps?and yellow jackets. These do not attract our beneficial bees! That’s a good thing. ?

Add some sweet liquid such as pop or sugar water to the traps and the wasps get up inside and can’t figure out how to get out eventually getting stuck in the sweet liquid. ?Hang them in a tree or place them on a table 10 to 15 feet away from where you sit outdoors. The trap will draw them away from you. Very wasp catcher?

The Avant-Garden Shop