June 15, 2018
By Denis Flanagan CLD
LO Manager of Membership and Public Relations
Denis FlanaganJune has always been known as a month for fresh beginnings and celebrations. One of the three most popular months for weddings, June also includes Father’s Day, Flag Day in the U.S., Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day in Quebec, and of course, the first day of summer.

The arrival of summer brings with it a sense of revival after the long winter months. This is especially true this year. With a prolonged cold spell well into spring, many gardeners (myself included) waited anxiously to see if the buds on our wisteria, red buds and buddleias would ever come to life — and at the same time, watched as our natural woodlands and ravines burst into activity.

Embracing the natural world

This sort of sums up how a new day is dawning in the world of landscaping and gardening. Homeowners still want to surround themselves with ornamental beauty, yet at the same time, they also want to embrace the natural world. A fine example of this can we witnessed with the ongoing expansion plans at the Toronto Botanical Garden (TBG).

I sit on the board of the TBG, and I am very excited to see how this unique green space located in the heart of the city will evolve; as will its partnership with the City of Toronto. Hopefully, many of our Landscape Ontario members will be involved to create a hub for excellence, exploration and education for a new breed of gardeners.

A new generation of gardeners

My good friend, Mark Cullen, describes these new gardeners quite nicely in his book, The New Canadian Gardener: “As I reflect on the gardeners’ priorities in the ‘90s, I am reminded that gardening will never be the same way again. First, because newer homes are being built on much smaller lots than they were 20 years ago. In fact, many “homes” are not even houses at all, but condos with intensely planned and planted balconies that present new opportunities and challenges. Second, and more importantly, the incoming generation of gardeners has challenged all of us to look at gardening from a different point of view.”

As an industry, I believe the green profession has an opportunity in the next couple of years to be the leader in this new movement. Your LO staff are already developing programs, meetings and information in partnership with our chapters and sector groups to embrace this new generation of homeowners and gardeners. We have already seen great examples through plant symposiums and the Fusion Landscaping program.

A renewed home office in Milton

At the same time, construction will begin shortly on the LO building in Milton, transforming and modernizing the offices of your membership services team. It’s interesting for me to watch the younger generation of staff give their input on how the association should be portrayed. As always, this portrayal is a true reflection of the pulse of our membership. The valuable information we gather while talking with members at events across the province allows us to not only shape the future of your association, but to also gather insight on how to best connect with potential members and their customers in an ever-changing world of instant communications and technologies.

If we get it right, we could seize the opportunity to provide well-crafted horticultural information, coupled with with a broader message about ecology, the environment and community, which could not only be a wonderful conduit between our members and the media, but in the grander scheme of things, could also help to paint a new image of our profession. This new image may also be part of the solution towards solving the number one issue for our members: attracting and retaining new, skilled staff for their growing companies.

By the way, the buddleia, redbud and wisteria all survived in my garden. Perhaps this is an indication that both ornamental and native plant material have room to grow and flourish in harmony, to provide an opportunity to share a story.
As we embark on this new day, we welcome any feedback, ideas or comments from LO members.

Denis Flanagan can be reached at dflanagan@landscapeontario.com or at 905-875-1805, ext. 2303.