August 15, 2009
By Kristen McIntyre CHT
Project and event coordinator

Many times, when the days are long at this time of year, it seems like there is no end in sight, and you begin wondering if anyone really notices the extra hours put into re-designing your end cap displays, facing the stone, or positioning every shrub and tree exactly in place. If you submit a project into LO’s Awards of Excellence program, it’s guaranteed that the judges will notice.

As a member of LO, you belong to an association that allows your company to market itself as a professional. LO’s Awards of Excellence program gives members the opportunity to showcase those professional talents. This industry is alive with creative, skilled and enthusiastic people, and the awards program proves that each and every year. It is an opportunity to showcase the ‘best of our best.’  

LO manages several award programs, including retail garden centre with 14 categories, growers with 11 categories and construction, maintenance and design with an astounding 39 categories.

New to the construction, maintenance and design programs this year, the judges will also be awarding Green for Life stamps to projects that qualify. They will look for green practices, and the quality of construction, maintenance and design in sustainable landscapes. Features such as permeable paving, native plantings, water conservation and re-use, best practices and green roof technology, etc., will be  considered.

“Seeing the winners impresses me more every year,” says Denis Flanagan, Landscape Ontario’s director of public relations. “Award-winning projects consistently show outstanding design sophistication and horticultural knowledge. Our members continue to reach new levels of craftsmanship. To back it all up, these companies are also leaders in areas ranging from safety to new technology.”

Winning entries are viewed each year by thousands of people, including both consumers and the trade. Award winning projects have been featured on HGTV, in Garden Inspiration magazine, dozens of newspapers and media publications, at Canada Blooms and LO Congress. Photographs have also been used to illustrate articles on numerous websites and in The Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, London Free Press, Toronto Sun, and many more, not to mention trade publications including Landscape Trades and Horticulture Review. Award-winning projects and companies are also frequently profiled in Horticulture Review.

Taking great photos that showcase the true depths of your landscape takes time and practice. Did you know that most landscape photography experts say that an overcast day is prime for taking vivid landscape shots? A bright sunny day does not capture the hues and deeper shades in a landscape. Also recommended is keeping shadows in mind, as they detract from your picture. And remember, take more shots than you need. That way you have more to choose from when you compile your entry.

For more tips, and to learn more about how to maximize the visual potential of your own creativity and gain a greater understanding of the elements that make a powerful photograph, register for the Grassroots Photography seminar being offered at LO’s home office in Milton on August 12. Spaces are limited, so register today at

Best wishes to everyone for a great season, and remember to take lots of photos on your job sites and at your retail operations this summer. Before shots really help to sell your work. For more information on the Landscape Ontario Awards of Excellence programs, contact me directly, or visit