February 15, 2016
“Choose Your Path” is the theme of this year’s Landscape Ontario feature garden at Canada Blooms.
“Choose Your Path” is the theme of this year’s Landscape Ontario feature garden at Canada Blooms.
By Jim Philip, John Hordyk and Scott Wentworth

This year’s Landscape Ontario feature garden, “Choose Your Path,” is intended to showcase the wide range of skills and expertise that makes up our profession. The 4,900 sq. ft. garden designed by Paul Brydges, will educate visitors on the many benefits of our profession and appeal to young people about making a difference through the work they can accomplish by joining the outdoor living profession.  

Through the process, dozens of professionals are involved in the planning and building of the garden with a specific purpose in mind and with the goal of achieving excellence with the final result. The challenges presented by the logistics of the build — the short timeframe, the large number of people required, the desire to take full advantage of the learning opportunities that can be gained — all provide exceptional opportunities for growth for everyone involved.

Being a part of building the Canada Blooms LO feature garden team offers a unique set of circumstances for individuals to accomplish the following:

Upgrade project management technologies and skills

Communicating easily to dozens of builders and suppliers before and during the build and incorporating timelines and identifying coordination points must be done effectively. Building a thorough and holistic plan covering every aspect of the build is vital for this to work. Building a broad consensus in how the plan will be executed is important to ensure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities throughout the process.

Improve training skills

The build provides a perfect opportunity to execute On the Job Training (OJT) principles, especially in developing junior project managers. It provides the opportunity to share best practices across companies, where everyone comes away with stronger technical skills.

Work with amazing peers

The reality of how amazing the people are in this profession truly hits home when working together hand-in-hand. It is said that “iron sharpens iron,” and working together to complete a challenging project that represents our association is an experience that leaves everyone stronger as a result.

Build a sense of team

It takes purpose to take a large group of companies and individuals of diverse skills to be an effective team. The rewards of being part of an effective team are enormous. Accomplishing something together is a much greater reward then when we produce on our own.

Inspire students with an experience of excellence

It is an honour to be able to work with post-secondary students on this project. This year, each post-secondary landscape program was invited to provide two students to participate in the build. For many, this is their first experience in working with such an allied and diverse group of landscape professionals. Working with these students is truly energizing, and their enthusiasm is contagious.

The end result of the Canada Blooms LO feature garden build is an incredible display garden that reflects the wide variety of technical and people skills that are prevalent in our profession.  The garden will also educate the public on the many areas our profession positively impacts their lives — it is a tangible demonstration that our profession makes a difference. For those involved, the benefits are the opportunity to improve our project planning skills, our ability to train our trainers, and work with new materials and building techniques. We inspire students with a great experience of working in the profession and also help our educators establish a standard of excellence in not only the finished product we provide, but also the process we employ to get there.

This year’s build is co-managed by John Hordyk of Edengrove Landscaping and Jim Philip of Wentworth Landscapes. Both men are enthusiastic about working together with like-minded professionals to make Paul Brydges’ design a reality. John and Jim best sum it up with, “Out of this sometimes chaotic process, we hone our skills and build lasting friendships.”   

The build itself takes an ambitious design and educational narrative, combined with a challenging timeframe and logistics, and builds a focused team that quickly and efficiently creates a display that lasts only days, but may impact many for a lifetime. Despite the best planning efforts, challenges will always arise — challenges that reveal not only the character of the team building it, but will also reflect the professionalism of Landscape Ontario, its membership and the diversity of all that we can all accomplish together.