April 3, 2020
Denis FlanaganIn April, I will be retiring from my position at Landscape Ontario. I look forward to spending more time with my family and exploring some exciting, new opportunities.

Writing this final article for Landscape Ontario magazine gave me an opportunity to reflect on the last two decades of my career. Twenty years ago I changed careers and moved from a wonderful job managing the landscape design division at Weall and Cullen garden centres to a new venture in life, hosting the Indoor Gardener on HGTV. Around the same time I happened to be volunteering at an LO certification event. At the event, LO Executive Director, Tony DiGiovanni, in his usual and unassuming way, tapped me on the shoulder and asked what I was planning to do with the rest of my time since I was only recording in studio two days a week. This led to the discussion that LO was starting a three-month youth training program and was in need of a coordinator. That was the beginning of an immensely rewarding time in my life.

I continued hosting TV shows, including One Garden Two Looks for four seasons. Through the show, we were able to feature many LO members and display the LO logo prominently in the credits. As they say, all good things come to an end and when HGTV decided to re-brand, they cancelled all their gardening shows. This gave Tony the opportunity to tap me on my other shoulder once again and suggest that we create a public relations department for the association. In the early days, this involved promoting the work of our members in newspapers, magazines TV and radio, as well as educating the general public on the value of hiring a professional member. This message, was of course, captured best at Canada Blooms and at many other regional home and garden shows. As an added promotional tool a few years ago, the talented team in our publishing department developed Garden Inspiration, an annual consumer magazine that highlights new plant varieties and features winning projects in the LO Awards of Excellence program. Garden Inspiration has become an incredibly popular publication. I will be excited to watch how the association embraces the power of social media and modern technology to enhance the concept of developing our members professional competency aligned with promoting that professionalism to the public.

I have been fortunate to work alongside an enormously talented staff that works diligently at developing courses, conferences, trade shows, events, chapters and member engagement programs to the point where LO has become a highly- respected organization not only in North America, but in many countries around the world.

Over the years, I have also had the incredible opportunity to meet and work with many famous people and celebrities, but in my mind, the true stars have always been our members, They create and care for beautiful spaces, but also care for their local communities, colleagues and competitors. I feel privileged that I was able to work with so many of you. As we embrace 2020 and witness the start of a new decade, it’s encouraging to see so many young members taking over the reins and proving they have the ability to meet the challenges ahead. Many opportunities are unfolding in a new chapter at LO, and for me, it’s time to turn the page and start a new chapter as well.

All the best!
Denis Flanagan CLD