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Digging In — Frank “Frankie Flowers” Ferragine

April 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Celebrity


Frank FerragineComing home from school one summer, Frank Ferragine realized something very simple yet extraordinarily important about himself. For years, he had his sights firmly planted on becoming a lawyer with dreams of judicial grandeur dancing through his mind. He fast-tracked through university to speed up the process while also gaining acceptance to Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. But something was amiss. Something just didn’t feel right.

Ferragine took the year off to help his parents open their new garden centre in Barrie, Ont., – his hands in the dirt and the fragrance of fresh foliage wafting through his nose. It was during those days that he came to a blunt and obvious conclusion: “I really don’t like paperwork.” In that single moment of existential epiphany, Ferragine’s true passion began to actualize and low-and-behold, his true calling was budding right before his eyes: gardening.

Today, Frank “Frankie Flowers” Ferragine has cultivated his blossoming passion and sewn his love for greenery to become Breakfast Television’s gardening and weather expert. His rosy demeanour and positive outlook has yielded a following of regular viewers who enjoy his sunny disposition and simple yet effective gardening advice. Indeed, ever since his brother passed away from Ewing’s sarcoma, Ferragine takes nothing for granted. As he explains, “I live for two because I feel honoured to be here and I always want to make sure his memory is strong, and also, what I do is try to live with a smile and try to see the good in all.”

And why shouldn’t he? He has a career that nurtures his fondness for flora – a love that has roots stemming from his family tree. Since first arriving in Canada in the 1950s, Ferragine’s family has been in the greenhouse and agricultural industry. Even to this day, the smell of a resilient and pleasant flower brings fond memories of sunny afternoons digging in the soil with his grandfather. “My favourite flower of all time is a pansy,” says Ferragine. “Pansies remind me of my grandfather because we grew a lot of them.”

My grandparents used to grow geraniums, and I too still picture my grandfather whenever I see them. Unfortunately, unlike Ferragine, my impatience and eventual loss of interest was the cause of several vacant spots in my grandparent’s garden, uprooting any gardening pipedream I may have had. But unlike my seven-year-old self, you shouldn’t call it quits when tangled in a floral fix. In fact, Ferragine feels failure is a crucial part of the gardening process. “Every gardener out there has killed a plant, that’s what new gardeners need to know – we’ve all done it. But what we do is we try to adapt,” explains Ferragine, whose recently released first book, Get Growing (HarperCollins Canada), went Number 1 on

Gardening is all about trial and error, so novice gardeners shouldn’t get discouraged so quickly. “The best thing for first-time gardeners is container gardening. Basically, a container is a small little landscape in a pot. If you just got your home and this year you don’t have a big budget but you want it to look pretty, you can just do a few large containers.”

There are a variety of vegetables Ferragine also suggests to ease beginners into horticulture. Tomatoes and beans, for example, are easy to tend, require little space and can be grown indoors. “If you have sun, you can grow tomatoes,” explains Ferragine.

Soil is also extremely important. If you fertilize early in spring, your soil will retain essential minerals that will help maintain plants during the summer. “Your plants use the soil to gain nutrients from, that’s where they get their water from, that’s where they get their fertilizer from and that’s where they also support themselves,” continues Ferragine. But even before you dig in, make sure your soil isn’t spongy under your feet – if it’s spongy, it’s too wet. Mulch is also an asset for your garden – it retains moisture and will also reduce weeding.

For the more ambitious landscapers, Ferragine feels evergreens are essential. Their durable nature provides shelter for your nursery, protection for perennials and will see your garden flourish for years to come.

“Once you get confident with gardening, you’ll be amazed at what you can do: there are no limitations, you can have so much fun.”

For more great gardening tips, pick up Get Growing, published by HarperCollins Canada. Catch Frankie Flowers on Breakfast Television and CityLine (Citytv).


5 Responses to “Digging In — Frank “Frankie Flowers” Ferragine”

  1. Rita on June 11th, 2011 7:43 pm

    Frankie recently discussed the pruning of “Mums” but I can’t remember exactly what he said. I’d be ever so grateful if he could tell me again. Something about cutting them down to half their size but I’m not sure when he said to do it.

    Thanks so much.


  2. frank ferragine on July 4th, 2011 8:42 am

    Pinching or pruning of Garden mums should be done in Mid July, by cutting the plant back up to half the size you will increase bloom while creating a nice firm plant. Happy Gardening!!


  3. Nancy Lee-Colibaba on November 30th, 2011 5:24 pm

    Hello Frankie
    I’m just inquiring to see if it might be possible to have you come to the RBG to talk.
    Please let me know your cost, availability etc…..
    I think it would be fun to get you out of Toronto for awhile.
    My number is 905-527-1158 Ext. 510
    Looking forward to your reply.

  4. Kim on March 28th, 2012 4:05 pm

    Hi Frankie, I have a pink saucer cup magnolia , for the first time in 5 years it had beautiful flowering buds. We had a few night of -5 temps and all the bud went brown and soft. There are more little buds on it , should i cover the tree at night, I just hope it will still have some flowers , that the cold has not killed.

  5. Ruth on May 2nd, 2012 3:35 pm

    Frank….what was the name of that new or early orange and black butterfly that people have been seeing..?? Thanks..

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