November 15, 2015
Baseball and landscaping
Three families were present for the dedication services. Pictured here is the van Maris family.
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director

My wife is the avid baseball fan in our household. As a faithful husband, I dutifully attend four or five games a year at the Rogers Centre. She watches and cheers. I go for long walks in the stadium.   

Recently I got caught up in the energy and excitement of the Blue Jays post-season achievements. Surprisingly, I have become a reluctant fan (at least temporarily).

I am starting to recognize players and teams. The ebb and flow of emotions overcome my normally calm demeanor as hitters hit and pitchers pitch — as games are won and lost with the last batter in the final inning.

Although the Kansas City Royals silenced the cheers of a nation, one positive and touching image from the end of the season drive remained with me. In the season-end series between the Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays, pitcher Chris Archer faced his former mentor and teammate David Price. Just before the game started, the camera panned to the image of Price and Archer giving each other a hug and wishing each other well.   

The image communicated volumes about integrity, contribution, mentorship, purpose, collaboration and positive competition. I have seen the same values reflected in hundreds of Landscape Ontario meetings.

Competition does not have to be war. It is possible to mentor your competitors. Positive competition makes everyone better because it forces us to grow.

I have often told the story of an early sector group meeting where I witnessed one the members freely share ideas and concepts that gave him a competitive edge. I was puzzled at his openness in a room full of competitors. After the meeting, I asked him why he had been so open. He told me that the math was in his favour. If ten people in a room each contribute one idea, each person would go home with nine ideas.

This is the essence of our association. We are competitors and collaborators at the same time. We exist to make each other and the industry better. We are a club for mutual improvement and benefit. We are an extended family with shared values that care about each other, the industry and the community.   

Landscape and memory

Another example of these values was echoed at the last provincial board meeting. Just before the meeting, trees were dedicated to the memory of three industry leaders who inspired hundreds with their strong commitment to Landscape Ontario and the profession.   

In many ways these leaders (with hundreds of others) set the “contribution” tone of our organization. It was a touching and fitting dedication ceremony honouring and celebrating the memory of past president and life member Casey van Maris, life member John Wright and past president Peter Olsen.

Their influence and values have benefited thousands. It should also be noted that the Waterloo Chapter board came up with the idea. Phil Dickie from Fast Forest donated the tree-spade plantings. Bill Putzer from Putzer Nurseries donated the trees. The “contribution” ethic continues.     
Tony DiGiovanni may be reached at