What’s On with GardenComm!

Hop into spring with GardenComm by submitting for the exciting opportunities we have to offer!

2020 GardenComm Director Nominations
Deadline Monday, March 30

The GardenComm Nominations Committee is soliciting nominations from members to be considered as candidates for director positions for GardenComm Leadership.

Serving as a GardenComm leader is both an honor and a commitment. To work with other distinguished members of our industry in leading and shaping this organization is a productive and immensely enjoyable experience. Please submit a self-nomination or recommend people whom you know will demonstrate the energy and innovative spirit we need to build on our momentum!

For more information, click here.

Deadline Tuesday, March 31
Click here to submit your entry today!


2020 GardenComm Honors Nominations
Deadline Monday, June 1

Each year, GardenComm recognizes industry excellence and service to the association with its Honors program in seven distinct honoree categories listed below. As the chairs of the Honors program, we encourage you to submit a nomination, which can be made by or on behalf of any qualified nominee. Self-nominations are also welcome.

For more information, click here.


Planting Opportunity

Your yoga classes, meetings and concerts are canceled. The kids are out of school and you’re being encouraged to stay home. In this time of #Covid-19, GardenComm members are thinking about how people can use this period to cultivate something good. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Take this time to groom or repot houseplants. Remove dead leaves, refresh the soil, take cuttings of favorites so that later you can share the wealth with friends.
  • Start some seeds. Nothing is more life-affirming than checking each morning to see if something spouted.
  • Plan a vegetable garden. Grow the veggies you love the most. Read about which varieties to plant from seeds and which ones are better if you purchase plants. Consult garden blogs and books.
  • Plan to grow flowers that make you happy. Suggestions: sunflowers, nasturtiums, zinnias or marigolds. These are #EasyFromSeeds and you can grow many plants for less money.
  • Create a new indoor display of plants. Make a row of small pots in bloom on your kitchen counter or the windowsill above your sink. Move an unused side table in front of a window or slider, creating a new place for plants.
  • Redesign the plantings in the front of your house. Research plants that grow well in your area, and make a plan for spring renewal.
  • Take an online class about plants or gardens, or watch some YouTube instruction videos. Learn about seed starting, taking cuttings, or how to grow vegetables.
  • Plan an herb garden. What herbs do you like to cook with? Which herbs make the best cocktails or tea? If you don’t have in-ground space, grow herbs in pots. #foodies #aromatherapy
  • Pull out the garden or plant books you bought in the past and read them…maybe for the first time! Revisit those copies with lovely garden photos and be newly inspired.
  • Take a walk in a nearby natural area: woods, field, desert, beach or park. Look closely at leaves, bark, mosses and flowers. Notice the number of plants that grow in a community. Look up, look down.
  • Go to on-line seed and plant companies and learn about varieties you’re not familiar with. Join plant or garden groups on social media. Search for posts about the flowers and plants you see listed.
  • Order a new book about plants or gardens. Once it arrives, hold a #GardenRetreat hour or afternoon. Sip your favorite beverage, read and make a list of garden inspirations.
  • What plants remind you of family members or friends? Write those memories down. Consider turning those recollections, along with photos of the plants and people, into a small book that can be passed to others in your family.
  • Decide to plant a tree. Research which varieties grow well in your area. Look to see where you have the right amount of space and sunlight.
  • Get a head start on the growing season by removing plants that died last season or over the winter. Prepare those spaces for planting, and research to find the perfect varieties for these spaces.
  • Plan a new group of containers for your deck, porch or patio. Flowers, herbs and vegetables await your creativity…go for color, fragrance and flavor.
  • Help to get a young person out into the natural world. Plan a garden for your kids or grandchildren. Donate supplies to a local children’s garden or school garden.
  • Plan a garden vacation. Decide on an area of the country, and research public gardens, national parks, and plant destinations that are in the region. (If you’re a garden communicator, come to GardenComm2020 in Williamsburg!)

View found time as a #PlantingOpportunity, keep it  #GardenStrong and #LifeAffirming.

Hort Support—It’s a Win/Win for GardenComm and the NWF&GF

Connect_Meeting_at_the_2019_Flower_Garden_Festival_in_Seattle.JPGby Mary-Kate Mackey & Anne Reeves

This year, we’re looking forward to Seattle’s Northwest Flower & Garden Festival, which runs from February 26-March 1, and celebrates once again the strong ties that have been forged between our GardenComm organization and the show during its 31-year history.

Over that time, the popular indoor extravaganza has always provided media passes to our members. More than half of the seminar speakers have been associated with our group. GardenComm Connect meetings have been regularly held at the show, and last year, for the first time, GardenComm sponsored an Outdoor Living Award. This was given to the display garden on the show floor that, as our award’s description goes, “exhibits the most beautiful, creative, and educational ideas for effective use of horticulture and design in functional outdoor living environments.”

So, in 2020, the media pre-show walk-through will take place before the judging on Tuesday, February 25. Our members are again well-represented among the seminar speakers and in other features, such as Container Wars and the Blooms and Bubbles workshops. This year, the Outdoor Living Award is sponsored by Brent & Becky’s Bulbs, and will be judged by Regional Director, Anne Held Reeves, writer Erica Browne Grivas, and photographer Mark Turner.

And be sure to join us for two fun events. First, we are getting together socially for a No-Host Happy Hour on Thursday, Feb 27 at 6 pm at the ground floor bar at the Sheraton Grand on 6th Street—directly down the hill from the Convention Center. Then the next afternoon, we will gather for a free GardenComm Connect Meeting on Friday Feb 28 at 1:00 pm in Room 309, next to the VIP/Media Room on the third floor in the Convention Center. A special thanks to Courtney Goetz, the show’s Operations Manager, for arranging that space. Come on down, members and friends, bring plenty of business cards, and expect to connect. Share your latest accomplishments, industry topics, and ideas for how GardenComm can support you. Please encourage anyone who would be interested to join us and learn what GardenComm now is all about.

Mary-Kate Mackey and Anne Reeves are the Region VI National and Regional Directors, respectively.

Instagram for Garden Communicators

Sign-up for Grace’s Webinar Today

Instagram is no longer the red-headed stepchild of Facebook, now fully acquired and integrated into the pantheon of social media platforms. With nearly 70% of Americans under 30 using Instagram (1,2) and as the second-most downloaded app in Apple’s App Store (after YouTube), it’s clear that Instagram is visual, mobile, and youthful.

But what if you are none of these things, content to compose your prose on your laptop, share to your favorite Facebook gardening groups, or maybe even tap out a twitter treatise? You have perfectly optimized blog posts for those who prefer to read quietly when they have time, but you may be missing out on a new generation of readers eager to learn.

An Instagram account can be grown organically, to share your written work beyond your usual audience.  If your ideal reader is new to gardening, they crave inspiration and how-tos and are finding it online using YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram as their visual search engines.

How on earth do you distill those perfect 1000 words to an Instagram caption or choose a passable picture from the blurry options on your phone? (And who even knows what’s up with What’s App and Snapchat? )  Sure, taking a photo with the intention to illustrate a point helps, but there are apps and filters that can turn any of us into Art Wolfe or Imogen Cunningham.

Although thumb-stopping content is ideal, the reality is that prose and keywords count far more for discoverability, especially when we’re squinting at tiny screens.  Hashtags help people searching for content to find new accounts and related ideas.  Purposeful prose grabs readers and invites interaction.  Instagram captions are short conversations, telling a story about you, your writing process, your successes (and failures) in the garden.  It’s an ongoing exchange of information and inspiration.  We each learn from each other and get ideas for new projects.

Gardening, being the slowest of the performing arts, is an unlikely candidate for success in the constant consumption whirl of social media.  The craft of writing and the slowness of editing is hard to portray in the instant of Instagram.  But by finding that perfect moment of dew on a petal, a well-crafted phrase about sowing seeds, we connect and grow, one by one.

Instagram is more than chasing likes and followers, it’s about making real connections with real people.

Remember, it’s Social media.

Let’s throw an online garden party, and invite everyone.

Sign-up for Grace’s Webinar Today




About Grace Hensley

Grace Hensley runs Fashion Plants, a business strategy and digital marketing company she founded to keep busy while raising two young sons, after a career in biotechnology.  As a professional photographer, she became interested in garden communication and social media trends to help you talk about your business on social. She is a Certified Professional Horticulturist and continues to work in seasonal container design to remain current with the hot new plants. Plus, she’s addicted to soil.

Garden Communications Considered

One Garden Geek’s Thoughts about GardenComm and the Green Industry

by C.L. Fornari

When I joined the organization that was called Garden Writers, the members were the main pipelines of information that flowed from those who grew plants or made garden products out to the public. We wrote the columns and books, hosted the radio or TV shows, provided the photographs and gave the lectures that promoted gardening and horticulture.

And then came the internet.

Now we’re in a world where anyone can put out information as they wish about plants and gardens. Companies can post on their own blogs and social media. An enthusiast with a large audience on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook can be hired as an influencer to promote plants and products to their followers. Because of the internet, everyone in the green industry has found himself or herself in a whole new world.

This uncharted area has proved to be compelling, fast changing and complicated for all. The public spends more than 11 hours a day focused on their screens, according to a 2018 Nielsen study. This means that those promoting horticulture need to find ways to make our interests compete with the virtual realm, a place that is constantly shifting. Just as we think there’s a clear path to reaching the public through social media, something alters and that route is no longer as clear. The recent move by Instagram to remove “likes” from the platform is an example of such a change.

It also becomes increasingly more difficult for the public to determine what online information is true and useful, what doesn’t pertain to them, and what is false or an outright scam. Is the advice given by a home gardener in Texas useful to the vegetable garden newbie in Minnesota? Does the ultra-vibrant perennial garden shared on Facebook really look so vivid and colorful in person? Can you really grow rainbow roses, where every petal is a different hue, from the seeds sold on Amazon?

Association memberships are also challenged, whether it’s a garden communication group or not. Back in the day special interest or professional groups were the main place where people could gather around shared passions. Their meetings were a prime vehicle for networking and sharing information. Now interests and knowledge are online and no one has to leave home to connect.

Despite the advantages of online connections, I believe that an association such as GardenComm is even more important to the green industry than ever before.

  • The More Seeds Sown: Let’s face it. The internet is a black hole for distraction. People are bombarded by images, information and click-bait that demand their attention. It stands to reason then that a few mentions of a plant or product can easily get lost. So, the more people you have writing, photographing and speaking about plants and horticultural products, the more likely it is that they will be noticed. More seeds sown result in greater germination.
  • Regional Reinforcement: You’ve probably heard the saying that “all gardening is regional” and there is a great deal of truth there. The plant-buying public comes to quickly understand that some plants might thrive in their area while others do not. So, even when a plant is promoted and sold nationally, people want to know that it will do well in their yard and garden. Having garden communicators who assure regional consumers that a plant or product will work for them is invaluable, to the business and to the public.
  • Relationships and Trust: Good garden communicators do far more than pass on facts about plants and products. They build a strong rapport with their audiences so that the information they disseminate carries much more weight than casual comments or even online reviews. A garden communicator who has worked to establish an affinity with the public is trusted. They are stronger than any crowd-sourced review site and valued as a source of accurate information.
  • United We Stand:  Human beings like to gather in groups and feel that they belong. People have a drive to be part of the tribe, to work toward meaningful goals, and we don’t want to be left out. So when those in horticulture rise together to talk about the benefits of plants and gardens, or to show the wonder and beauty that can be grown, we create something positive that people want to be a part of.  GardenComm members sum this up with two hashtags: #TeamHorticulture and #GardenStrong.

Meet the Author

C.L. Fornari is Treasurer of GardenComm.NCrx7L6A.jpeg



#gardenstrong Sows Seeds of Enthusiasm Wisdom


by C.L. Fornari

The beauty of a hashtag is that it’s much like poetry. It indicates what it says, yet contains multiple levels of meaning that go beyond what comes after the #. Like a poem, a hashtag can be a perfect little puzzle that provides commentary or emotional resonance that extends and deepens the topic at hand.

The GardenComm Communications Committee thought #gardenstrong would be a fitting hashtag for our organization. Many are familiar with the use of strong in a slogan. It originates with the Livestrong cancer support campaign in 2004, and later as the U.S. Army’s Army Strong slogan in 2006. In the northeast people remember #BostonStrong as it was used after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. At the first Boston Red Sox game after the bombing, the announcer told the crowd, “We are one. We are strong. We are Boston. We are Boston strong.”GARDEN STRONG

For me, #gardenstrong exemplifies the significance that cultivating plants has for all people. Gardens boost our emotional and physical wellbeing. The plants we raise nourish our bodies and keep our planet healthy. Flowers make us happy. Plants enhance our landscapes and the interior of our homes. And we are constantly learning new and amazing information about how plants sustain all life on this planet.

As GardenComm members we are dedicated to spreading information and joy about plants and gardens. We want the green industry, those who grow plants or produce garden products, to be ever more robust. Our work is all about sowing seeds of knowledge and enthusiasm with the goal of creating a verdant world.

We are one. We are strong. We love gardens and believe in the importance of horticulture and awareness about plants. We are #gardenstrong.

#gardenstrong: What does it mean to you?

Meet the Author


C.L. Fornari is treasurer of GardenComm. She’s a writer, speaker, radio host, and garden geek; she and Ellen Zachos received the 2019 Gold Award from GardenComm for their Plantrama podcast.

Finding A Garden Communicator

illustration blog2

by C.L. Fornari

Changes in the GardenComm Directory

The expression “the more things change, the more they stay the same” might be true in many areas of life, but not in garden communications. In the 21st century the ways people understand and engage with plants and gardens has been rapidly evolving. A mere 30 years ago only a handful of people were familiar with the word “permaculture,” and if you spoke of a “green roof,” you were most likely referring to a traditional, sod-covered building in Scandinavia.illustration blog 1

Up until the turn of the last century, a garden communicator was a writer, speaker, photographer, or broadcaster. Bloggers and podcasters didn’t exist, and no one was spreading information through social media. The internet has changed everything, and we’re constantly adapting while we discover together where this digital world will take us. Today, a more accurate saying might be “the more things change, the more we are called to change with them.”

As individual members of GardenComm move forward in this rapidly transforming new world, our organization is doing the same. One of the best examples of this growth is in the directory on our website. The link on the homepage that says “find a garden communicator” leads to our Connect page where anyone can find members based on the type of communications they do and their area of expertise. For many years there were six types of communicators…now there are 12.  Under “areas of expertise” there used to be 40 options, yet now there are 61.

Thirty years ago we didn’t envision our members blogging, podcasting or as social media influencers, and we never expected that we’d be communicating about climate change, green infrastructure, or Xeriscaping. From foraging to phytoremediation, or urban agriculture to outdoor living spaces, our members have expanded into unexpected areas of expertise as the world changes.

We are #TeamHorticulture. The more things change, the more we grow.