May 15, 2016
Paul Brydges
LO President

Paul BrydgesThe incredible success of Canada Blooms this year saw record crowds for attendance. For hours on end, the public came through the Landscape Ontario garden four wide, to see what our association of green professionals had to offer.

Congratulations to all of the garden builders on their awards and on their inspiring work that well-represents all of us as professionals.

The LO feature garden at Canada Blooms this year was an incredible amount of work and also comes at a substantial financial cost to the association. The Ottawa Chapter was able to continue the same messaging when recreating a version of the garden at the Ottawa Home & Garden Show in March (see article). This recycling of material and message allowed us to spread the cost of the garden through several events and maximize the dollars spent. It also helped to ensure we are repeating the same message to the public at each opportunity. Ottawa plans to use the same message in their garden next year.

 The struggles we seem to contend with each year at various shows is what message we, as an association, are putting forth to the public, and secondly, what the gardens to coincide with that message should be. Presently we have a committee looking at several aspects of our current messaging and branding of Landscape Ontario. The committee is looking to find a way to better put forth our message to the public and let the world know who we are and what we have to offer as an association. I believe as an association we must showcase to the public what excellence in landscape design, construction, plant material, lighting and maintenance looks like, as well as showcasing how many programs LO is involved with that help to mitigate climate change, environmental issues and habitat and species loss, to name but a few. One of the most common themes at Blooms this year was pollinator gardens and how easy it is for a single individual to make a difference.

That last statement is really incredibly important. Many, many volunteers pour hundreds of hours into supplying materials, growing plants, constructing gardens and creating messaging on behalf of Landscape Ontario to represent us at these world class events. It is quite surprising after all of this work that we saw a shortage of volunteers for both the LO garden at Canada Blooms and at the Ottawa Home & Garden Show. The members who created the spaces gave everything they could based on the size of their company. This was honestly humbling to see. I cannot personally thank all of the members enough for their support, efforts and great attitude. I am proud to see our members being recognized with so many awards for all their efforts in showcasing what our profession has to offer. It inspires us all.

Going forward I think we all need to consider how we can each support our association in small ways more often; rather than an all-out effort at only large events. Perhaps if we all look at what we can do to help, which may be as simple as representing our association and your firm at a show for a few hours to answer questions about what you as a professional are passionate about. Who better to tell the story of your unique talent and niche in the association than yourself? This will let the world know how vast our body of knowledge is as an association.
Paul Brydges may be reached at