Every year, around the end of January, I keep a close eye on my inbox for the annual invite to the GWA Region VII luncheon held at Canada Blooms, Canada’s largest flower and garden show. This event generally sells out, so I always make sure I register right away.
The day started bright with a tour for GWA attendees through all the display gardens before the doors open to the public. It’s a great opportunity to take pictures without a ton of people in them. Helen Battersby of Toronto Gardens led the group through each space, providing lots of interesting information and anecdotes about the designs and plants.
This year I had the pleasure of being one of the speakers at the Chicago Flower & Garden Show. My talk scheduled for Thursday morning was “Cultivating Your Green Thumb – Indoors.”
After my presentation I proceeded to the show. There were so many beautiful gardens to see. I especially loved the topiaries that were done by the Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo. They were a huge hit with the kids and adults alike, and brought attention to pollinators. Yay!
In a world where everyone’s eyes are focused down on the screen of their cell phone, calling attention to plants is increasingly a challenge. But we gardeners don’t shrink from getting down and dirty. We are always willing to do whatever it takes to grow something beautiful, tasty, or intriguing…am I right?
Those of us who want to promote horticulture are plant pushers as well as plant geeks. We need to use every tool at our disposal to make our product attractive. Great photography is indispensable these days…it’s a visual world. People love stories, so you and I need to hone those skills so we can tell a great tale. And social networking? A given. Blogging and websites? Essential. GWA is about developing all of these abilities and proficiencies.
CONNECT! It’s a word that’s now one-third of the new GWA brand: Connect. Learn. Grow. According to IBM, with the expansion of the “internet of things,” knowledge may double every 12 hours. How is GWA supposed to stay current? How can a GWA membership even begin to define “keeping up?” How can GWA membership help a garden communicator CONNECT to the profession of communicating, the horticultural community, and the experience of gardening?
What’s better than one garden writer sitting alone at a computer? A whole whack of them gathered around a table swapping stories over a hearty meal. And, what’s the best meal you can have on a miserable cold day? Why soup of course, followed by enough dessert to top up those vital cold-weather calorie requirements.
As has become my custom, the party was held on one of the most miserable stormy days of the year. I have now been officially nicknamed “The Snow Queen” by Lorraine Flanigan of Toronto, ON. In spite of the storm, twelve determined GWA members and party people, including myself and my husband Kevin had a great time at the Region VII GWA Connect Meeting.
I had heard a lot about the Northwest Flower & Garden Show (NWFGS) in Seattle, WA. Every spring for the past two or three years the social media board had lit up with people who were heading out to the show. This year I was thrilled to be able to join the masses travelling to Seattle.
I left home on a drab East Coast February day. In Seattle I had arranged to meet my fellow GWA members at about 6:30 PM on that Thursday evening but as my plane was delayed, it was closer to 8:00 PM before I hit downtown. It was not however too late to meet people so my phone came out and I texted a West Coast buddy, Dawn Hummel and arranged to meet her in the bar area of the hotel. On the walk to that bar I encountered other garden communicators like GWA National Director Nan Sterman, Kathryn Wadsworth and David Deardorff.
As gardeners we know that everything is connected to everything else. So is it surprising that we’re constantly hearing about the importance of networking? Making connections with others has always been crucial when it comes to conducting business. We’re all more apt to hire or recommend someone we know and trust over a stranger.
The significance of relationship building was on my mind at the Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE) in Fort Lauderdale recently. I was in the good company of fellow garden writers who were all there to learn and grow our businesses.
The Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE) rolled out the red carpet for GWA members January 19-22 at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale. The Convention Center was bursting with color and energy with over 200,000 square feet of exhibits showcasing the latest trends in foliage, floral and tropicals. I was one of fifteen GWA members welcomed by the Florida Nursery Growers & Landscape Association (FNGLA), leader of Florida’s green industry. This was my opportunity to connect with growers and experience their products. Of course, I was also happy to be in Florida in January!
It was a dark and stormy night. Well, the storms hadn’t started yet when I began my talk. I was speaking to the Anacostia Watershed Society in their historic headquarters in Bladensburg, MD, a former tavern that was a favorite spot of George Washington’s. Anticipating a fun evening with fellow gardeners, I set up my laptop and projector in the upstairs meeting room. Everything started off smoothly, when all of a sudden a tremendous wind blew in and all the windows slammed shut with a bang. The power went out and we were plunged into darkness. I was only a quarter-way through my slide show describing local native plant choices. Now what?
GWA started the New Year with our first booth at the 45th annual Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS). We descended on the Baltimore Convention Center on January 6, 7, and 8, 2016 for this mid-winter event. Thursday morning began with a media reception hosted by Vanessa and Kelly Finney of Quercus Management who organizes MANTS, where several of the 1,000 exhibitors spoke about their products, while hungry garden writers enjoyed a complimentary breakfast. We were delighted to discover that the media room was also available for us all day as a quiet workplace and an area to store personal belongings. The GWA group photo (above) at the reception included 26, but many more of us were seen later on the enormous 300,000 square foot trade show floor. Continue reading “GWA @ MANTS 2016”