February 15, 2009
By Charlie Dobbin
Horticultural director, Canada Blooms

With all the snow and cold temperatures, not to mention shrinking discretionary dollars, I’m convinced that Canada Blooms will attract even more of those keen hobby gardeners who this year will more than ready to see what’s new in landscape design and horticulture.

The festival runs from Mar. 18-22, during spring break. And we believe many homeowners will forgo exotic vacations this year, and go back to that ‘cocooning’ concept made famous by Faith Popcorn in the early 1980s. With the hard work of all participants, we’ll be ready with lots to do for all family members. See an updated list of participants and the floor plan at www.canadablooms.com.

We believe Canada Blooms has always provided an excellent opportunity for horticultural companies to expand business. To clarify who visits Canada Blooms, we hired Enigma Research last year to conduct on-site interviews with 600 show-goers. Some of the findings were astonishing. It turns out the average visitor stays at the show for five hours. And, even better, more than half of them were at the festival to learn about gardening and landscaping. Anyone who visits the festival already knows she’s a woman between the ages of 35 and 50 years. She also owns her own home, and has an annual income over $100,000. And guess where the first place she goes upon arrival to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre? You got it – the feature garden area. The gardens, the flower show within the Garden Hall, and the marketplace are all thoroughly toured by close to everyone who enters the show. And they seem to completely enjoy the experience too. Just over 96 per cent of respondents revealed they would recommend Canada Blooms to their family and friends without hesitation. All of this is consistent with what we believed anecdotally. However, those same women weren’t completely happy about all aspects of the show – both the parking and admission price did not provide complete satisfaction to all our visitors.

Providing more value

This year we can’t do much about the parking, but we are doing our best to provide more value for the cost of entry. For the first time all show-goers will receive the Canada Blooms show guide free of charge. With the help of the Landscape Ontario’s publishing department, we are amalgamating the Source guide with LO’s annual magazine Garden Inspiration. The quantity published this year is 45,000 copies – a phenomenal increase from last year’s 5,000. As well, visit  www.canadablooms.com before attending the show to take advantage of our new, real-time, information-packed floor plan.

Canada Blooms, now in its 13th year of celebrating the best in Canadian gardening and floral design, was never blessed with a very sustainable business model. Enthusiasm, donations and volunteerism carried the show for the first five years. Huge support from the industry and keen hobby gardeners meant that Canada Blooms, a non-profit organization, made money, and lots of it. Over $600,000 was provided as a donation to horticultural projects, as diverse as botanical gardens, hospitals, museums and universities. But in the last few years there have been no profits to donate. As a matter of a fact, since we have such a strong reliance on solid support from the industry, it’s become imperative that we expand our financial horizons. Donations and sponsorship will support a large portion of the show this year, but at the end of the day, ticket sales are super important to supporting our bottom line. If you haven’t already purchased tickets to the show, you may do so through Landscape Ontario. Our members may purchase discounted tickets to Canada Blooms by calling Kathleen at 1-800-265-5656, ext. 309.

Those of you not yet involved with Canada Blooms may want to contact LO or the CB office to see how you too can be: active, supportive, networking, and using the opportunity to market your company to over 90,000 keen gardening homeowners.