April 15, 2012
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director

If you visited Canada Blooms, you saw the spectacular gardens created by Landscape Ontario members. The talent, creativity, craftsmanship, passion and professionalism of the garden builders and growers infected the crowd of over 100,000 people with enthusiasm, delight and even joy.

It is enjoyable to witness the looks of awe, pleasure and inspiration on people’s faces when they experience something special. Almost everyone had their cameras ready to capture the beauty, feeling, mood and ideas.  Many were imagining their own garden retreats. You could tell that their garden dreams would soon become a reality.     

A few of my Canada Blooms memories

As Lee Ann Knudsen, LO’s director of publications and communications, and I were standing in the Landscape Ontario garden, she told one of our visitors about how the garden was created through the collaboration of competitors.

I think it’s a unique trait of LO members. You see this characteristic very clearly during the Canada Blooms build. Members readily and enthusiastically share equipment, ideas and supplies. If someone is behind, they receive help. You also see this attribute in the community projects undertaken by every Chapter. LO attracts members who readily work with each other to give back to their community.

One Canada Blooms visitor made a point of telling me she really appreciated reading about the community contributions in the latest issue of Garden Inspiration magazine. The magazine was distributed to 60,000 visitors during the ten days that the show was open.

Another related story took place during the build. Kyle Tobin, Alan White and Steve Tschanz were busy installing turf vignettes when a reporter from CTV recognized them from the St. James Park restoration project. Alan was asked to go to the CTV studio to be interviewed. The interviewer wanted to talk about the St. James project rather than Canada Blooms. It is interesting how sometimes acts of goodwill are newsworthy.   

Gardening on TV

Later in the week, I was speaking to a TV producer, lamenting about the lack of garden TV programs. I asked her, why? She told me that statistics show a lack of viewers. In fact, there is a general trend for fewer viewers in many different programs outside of gardening. The Internet is having a profound effect on television production and no one quite knows what the future of television will look like.

We then talked about the huge public and media reaction to the St. James restoration project. I asked her, “Perhaps a new type of program featuring our members’ contribution-oriented projects might be viable?” She told me that she would explore this possibility.   

During the show, I visited with Albert Graves. He is a world class floral designer who attracts a huge audience to his energetic appearances on the Canada Blooms stage. During his entertaining presentations, he has the ability to engage his audience in unique ways. He has them dancing and jumping on their feet. Click on this You-Tube video to see what I mean; http://bit.ly/agraves.

Amazing moment

Albert told me about an amazing moment he experienced during his Friday night presentation. At the end of his session, Albert gives away the bouquets of flowers he has created. Usually it’s to the person who has the most outrageous dance moves. This time it was to the oldest person in the audience. It turned out there was one woman who was 100 years of age. As she slowly walked to the stage (accompanied by her caregiver), glowing with pride at having won the arrangement, the audience spontaneously erupted in applause with a standing ovation. There were tears all-round.   

One day a mother in a wheelchair accompanied by her daughter visited the Landscape Ontario garden. When she saw the roses, her face lit up. At the same time, her eyes welled with tears. She explained that years ago she planted a very special rose garden. She had used rose-of-the-year varieties that corresponded with the birth years of her four children. It was her special children’s garden. She lamented the fact she had to sell her home because she was no longer able to maintain it. She hoped the new owners would maintain the garden.   

A woman from the Philippines was in awe of the Medinilla magnifica in the entrance planter of the LO garden. She asked, “Where it is from?” Having just researched its origin, because hundreds of people asked the same question, I answered, “The plant is from North Philippines.” She enthusiastically rushed out to find her family, so she could proudly show them a memory from their home country.   

Family affair

The Landscape Ontario garden build was a family affair in more ways than one. Many members were involved in the design, pre-build and takedown.  Each person brought his unique ability to the project. Members learned from each other. The specific companies and individuals involved are highlighted elsewhere, but I want to personally thank all those involved.  Their hard work benefited all of us. Their willingness to work together to showcase the industry is inspirational and reflects goodwill. I have always observed that the membership is like a family. It was also heartening to see sons, daughters and friends participating.

There were literally thousands of conversations, interactions and stories told during the ten days of the show. I can only imagine the memories and positive impressions that were made during that time.  

Showcases values

Our industry has a special character. The fruits of our work make deep emotional connections. Our industry enhances lives and leaves a legacy of benefit for generations. Canada Blooms allows us to showcase these values.   

This issue of Landscape Ontario magazine will reach you in the middle of the spring rush. I imagine most of you will put it aside until you can catch your breath later on in the season. However, your Landscape Ontario staff family wishes you a prosperous, fruitful and happy spring season.   
Tony DiGiovanni may be reached at tonydigiovanni@landscapeontario.com.