October 15, 2017
Canada hosts world-class garden centre congress
Each day, visitors from over 20 countries set out from Niagara Falls, Ont.
Denis FlanaganBy Denis Flanagan CLD
LO Manager of Membership and Public Relations

The annual International Garden Centre Association (IGCA) Congress was hosted in Canada Sept. 17-22. Over 250 delegates from over 20 countries gathered to celebrate Canada 150 and to tour several of Ontario’s finest garden centres. Delegates were transported to many locations from the tour’s home base in Niagara Falls, Ont. via five tour buses. Each bus was themed one of Canada’s professional hockey teams and I was delighted to be a bus captain and tour guide on the Winnipeg Jets bus, sharing duties with Peggy Head from Newfoundland. Our bus had delegates from Germany, Holland, Czech Republic, Denmark and Switzerland. We enjoyed a fantastic week mixed with lots of information and a great deal of fun while on a packed agenda touring Ontario.

Day 1

Included visits to Coles Florist and Garden Centre, Connon Nurseries/CBV Holdings, Sheridan Nurseries and the Toronto Botanical Garden, concluding with an evening boat cruise on Lake Ontario.

Day 2

Started with the daily business session, followed by a visit to Winkelmolen Nursery where during lunch we were entertained with native dances and storytelling. The evening concluded with a dinner at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Day 3

Was an intense day with stops at Holland Park Garden Gallery, Terra Greenhouses, Van Dongen’s Garden Centre and a tour of Sheridan’s wholesale farm, including a very impressive dinner hosted by Sheridan (not an easy task for 250 delegates).

Day 4

The diversity of garden centres was demonstrated with stops at Ontario’s largest, Humber Nurseries, followed by the peaceful setting at Pathways to Perennials. Next was the leading-edge Bradford Greenhouses, where delegates were treated to an impressive dinner, including a camp fire with s’more making lessons for the Europeans.

Day 5

Delegates were treated to a truly Canadian celebration with a visit to Vermeer’s Garden Centre, where visitors took part in a ball hockey tournament. We then returned to Niagara Falls for a memorable boat ride aboard the Hornblower. Anyone that got a touch wet had an opportunity to dry out during a tour and lunch at Jackson-Triggs winery. In the evening, organizers, delegates and hosts enjoyed a special red themed gala at the Sheraton hotel.

The 2017 IGCA Congress is one of the best events I have ever participated in. Everyone benefited from participants from so many countries and cultures sharing stories, experiences and knowledge. Judging from the comments and feedback, the event certainly ranks Canada high on the world map of horticulture.

The 2018 IGCA Congress will be hosted in the city of Prague in the Czech Republic. For more information, visit igca2018.cz.  
Denis Flanagan can be reached at dflanagan@landscapeontario.com or at 905-875-1805, ext. 2303.