February 15, 2018
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director

At the beginning of each year, LO staff choose a new word to act as a filter for all of our activities. Last year the word was “purpose.” This year it is “listen.”

It is remarkable how this simple concept works. Our brains are constantly filtering information: simplifying, categorizing, focusing and attempting to find clarity. Have you ever noticed when you purchase a new car all of sudden you then notice the same brand everywhere? In essence, this is how our word filtering works.

At Congress this year I purposely spent a lot of time listening. It was an uplifting and humbling experience. The more I listened the conversations became deeper, more thoughtful and more enriching. Listening from someone else’s perspective in a way allows you to become a little bit of the person you are listening to. Listening is like a window into someone else’s life. Their experiences become yours.

Each person I listened to had a story. Some shared information about deaths, births and celebrations. Many were wondering how to find good workers. Some wondered about finding a new job focus or retiring. Others were energized about new opportunities and new products. A few talked passionately about how to change the world for the better.

I heard about goals, aspirations, challenges, fears and business successes. The family connections were very strong as l listened to fathers, daughters, sons, grandparents, grandchildren, cousins and uncles spanning up to three generations. Congress felt like an extended family reunion. Many wanted to volunteer to feel a part of the profession they love.

One particularly touching story came from Jim Mosher, owner of Landscape Plus. Landscape Plus won the prestigious Dunington-Grubb Award. Directly after the Awards of Excellence ceremony, I received this text from Jim.

“Hello Tony,
We were very pleased to receive the Dunington-Grubb Award the other evening. Both my sisters, Lynn and Betty Ann said it was a lovely evening and a very special moment. I live in B.C. during the winters and was walking with my mom that afternoon. I wrote about it and thought you might find it interesting. I have posted it. Best Regards Jim.”

Here is the touching story Jim wrote:
“Life is a wonderful thing. My mother, Betty Mosher (Holiday), grew up in a home provided by my grandfathers’ employer, Sheridan Nurseries. My grandparents would live in that company home from 1932 until my grandfather’s passing in 1962.

In the late 1930s, Betty would work in the Sheridan Nursery fields and later after attending business school, the main office.

Yesterday afternoon, January 9, 2018 while out on a walk, mom, now in her 91st year, began talking about a bell on the side of the main barn next to the office. When it rang it meant that there was a call for the boss. It would fall to my mom to run out and fetch Mr. Dunington-Grubb.

Howard Burlingham Dunington-Grubb (1881-1965) was an English Landscape Architect. Often cited as the “Father of Canadian Landscape Architecture,” Mr. Dunington-Grubb was an industrious man. In 1914, he founded Sheridan Nurseries with Lorrie Alfreda Dunington-Grubb (1877-1945), his wife, business partner and fellow Landscape Architect.

He was a special speaker and prolific writer in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Toronto, a staunch fan and supporter of Canadian Artists (Arthur Lismer of the Group of Seven and sculptor Frances Loring for example) and the creative force behind numerous architectural landmarks in and around the city of Toronto such as University Avenue.

Last evening, Landscape Plus was the honoured recipient of the very prestigious Dunington-Grubb Award for landscape construction at Landscape Ontario Congress. The list of firms that have received this award over the years is truly impressive. Our team is honoured to be in such company.

But while the feelings of pride and validation were wonderful, hands down the best part of the evening was telling mom.

She was well pleased... what a pleasure.


The article touched me. There is a profound thread of care and passion that connects generations to each other. I told Jim I sent his article to Karl and Bill Stensson at Sheridan Nurseries. Jim wrote back: “Thanks for sharing the article with Bill and Karl. Mom spoke of the Stenssons that afternoon as well, and how kind they were to my grandparents. My grandfather, Robert Holiday was unable to work the last two years of his life... the company home remained theirs to live in and he was retained at his full salary until he passed. I can’t help but be inspired when I hear of that kind of compassion and respect.”

Listening is enriching. Imagine if all of us decided to listen more carefully to our customers, employees, suppliers and families?

Tony DiGiovanni may be reached at tony@landscapeontario.com.