November 15, 2014
A flourishing partnership
LO home office hosts the annual Master Gardeners of Ontario Coordinators’ Conference.
Denis Flanagan CLD
LO Manager of Membership and Public Relations
Denis FlanaganFor several years now we have had a wonderful partnership with the Master Gardeners of Ontario. We co-operate on many projects, including the invaluable service they offer answering consumer questions both on our consumer website and at Canada Blooms.  

Once a year Master Gardeners hold the Annual Coordinators’ Conference at our site in Milton. It’s a full day of discussions, workshops and breakout sessions, also held in conjunction with the organization’s AGM.

As a honourary Master Gardener, I gladly attend the event and always learn a great deal. Many of the group’s challenges and opportunities are similar to Landscape Ontario. Discussions this year centred on topics such as fee structure, communications, leadership, etc.

A major discussion was how the Ontario Not-For-Profit Corporations Act, Bill 65, will impact the group should it be passed. One solution to date has been to use the services of a Management Advisory Service to assist in a strategic planning exercise to review the board structure, governance procedures and develop a new mission statement for the organization. The proposal will be shared with the entire membership of over 700, and will be subsequently voted on at a later date.

The three breakout sessions at the conference were under the headings of Role of Coordinators, Volunteer Motivation and How to Deal with Difficult Volunteers. These were all great sessions with excellent presenters, resulting in useful discussions. I think these types of sessions could be adapted for use at our Chapter and/or governance meetings.

A heart-warming session highlighted the work carried out by several groups throughout the province that work with school and youth groups to develop gardening programs. These dovetail so nicely with the goals of our Association, that I think we should support and partner on these programs whenever possible.

Landscape Ontario was formerly recognized during the proceedings for our ongoing support and hosting the coordinators’ conference every year. In turn, thanks should go to the LO staff who help behind the scenes, particularly Kathleen and Robert.

And finally I thought I would share a conversation I had during the weekend, “‎I always look forward to visiting Landscape Ontario for our annual AGM. As well as visiting your plantings, it is an excellent refresher of the special relationship we enjoy.

“I also appreciate seeing the Landscape Ontario stickers on the vehicles of our members. I know that these are trained professionals. The company I work for hires a landscaping company to plough snow, lawn cutting and general maintenance, including weeding. Our company purchased shrubs and hundreds of dollars of ‎perennials, which were planted in partnership with this company. Today, we have one or two perennials left, as most of the plants have been pulled with annuals or weeded out in the spring. We have never seen our Pee Gee hydrangea bloom, as they prune it in August. I am lobbying for a change. Thanks,” said Kathleen Gorsline, coordinator, Lake Simcoe South Master Gardeners.

I assumed the company Kathleen is talking about was not an LO member.

“Yes, your assumption is correct. The company hired is not a member of Landscape Ontario. It’s unfortunate that they can put the word landscaping in their company name, when they know nothing about plants or plant material,” said Kathleen.

I always find it interesting how people view our industry.
Denis Flanagan can be reached at or at 905-875-1805, ext. 2303.