February 15, 2009
There is no known device able to accurately measure the level of success for Congress 2009. Success this year came in the form of positive buzz from the show about the future of the industry.

From the opening conferences on Jan. 5 to the closing day on Jan. 8, at the Toronto Congress Centre, the entire event had show-goers smiling with optimism over the great potential in all aspects of industry. Congress is Canada’s largest expo and conference for the landscape and horticultural trades. This is the 36th edition of the show. Although attendance dropped slightly, there was such a huge amount of positive attitude towards new opportunities that everyone left claiming the show was a great success.

The theme this year was Go Green Today, reflected in Monday’s conferences, the Green Forum, the keynote address by Jan Habets of Plant Publicity Holland, the 35 seminars that focused on environmental issues and most of the more than 600 suppliers on the exhibition floor, especially in the new products area.

“Congress 2009 was a great place to discover hundreds of new products, get the latest ideas for design and construction, attend numerous workshops and network with industry experts and professionals from all different sectors of the business, “ said Paul Day, show manager.

The Green Forum was something brand new at Congress this year, and with all the positive feedback it appears that it will be a regular feature. The Forum offered an impressive line-up of speakers in more than 35 sessions during the three days of Congress, all leaders in business coaching, environmental stewardship and horticulture.

The list of seminars at this year’s Congress was also impressive. The vast majority of subjects concerned sustainable methods used to carry out business.

Jan Habets, a founding member of the Green City initiative and a committee member for the World Horticultural Exhibition, Floriade 2012, emphasized to the Congress audience the worldwide importance of horticulture to society. Said Paul Day, “We were extremely fortunate to have a speaker of this calibre open our event.”

The Green City initiative is a concept to promote the enrichment that high quality green space brings to society. Introduced to the world at Floriade 2002, the Green City is aimed at ensuring that ‘green’ programs are included at the beginning of the planning process on an equal footing with buildings and infrastructure. Benefits such as health and public safety, increased property values and improved employee productivity, supported by scientific and economic data and the horticultural know-how to deliver the programs comes together in the Green City philosophy.

Designers’ Conference

Landscape Designer Conference organizer Tony Lombardi reports record attendance this year. The Jan. 5 program was jammed with high profile speakers. Highlights included Randy and Jason Tumber’s presentation on their fabulous water features. The attendees were in awe at the depth and complexity of their projects. The Sketch Up presentation by Ron Koudys and Eli Paddle was also a very popular session, instructing the attendees on software. Also, Terry McGlade revealed his vast knowledge and experience on designing and installing rooftop gardens. Back by popular demand was Paul Zammit, who as always projects his excitement for plants.

Beth Edney said, “The day’s success would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors: Blue Sky Nursery, Unilock, HGH Granite, Gibsan Pool and Landscape Creations, Astley Gilbert, Cast Lighting, Summerwood Products and CNLA. Not only do they help fund the event, they also set up displays to provide us with information we can use in our day-to-day designing.” Thanks also should go to Tony Lombardi and his committee members, Chris Mace of Allweather Landscape, Beth Edney of Designs By The Yard and Ken Tomihiro of Landscape Ontario, and the Designer Group for a tremendous effort in organizing such a wonderful event.

Irrigation Conference

“As chair of the Landscape Ontario Irrigation group, I am pleased to report that the Water Conservation Strategies Meeting on Jan. 5 was a huge success,” said Chris LeConte. In total, 77 irrigation professionals joined forces to learn, discuss strategies and the rapidly changing water reality. “It was clear to everyone in attendance that this meeting was important to our industry as the cost of water, infrastructure costs, climate change and public perception are all going to impact our industry at some point in the future.”
Guest speakers for this event included Carol Salisbury, a senior water policy advisor from Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, Michael Brooks, president of Resource Management Strategies, and Christopher Despins, president of Rain Bucket (formerly a lead researcher in rain water harvesting for the University of Guelph). One message was clear throughout the conference: There are many different drivers for change in the water industry and now is the time for the irrigation industry to partner with municipalities, government and researchers in the development of key research and educational initiatives.

One of the most popular features of the seminars was that every attendee received a memory stick to record all of the speaker handouts. This was part of the Go Green Today initiative, to eliminate as much paper as possible at the conference.

On the show’s first day, booth award winners were announced in seven different categories: Best Promotion, New Roads National Leasing; Booth 200 square feet or less (excluding heavy machinery), Aquascape; Booth 201-400 square feet (excluding heavy machinery), Sheridan Nurseries; Booth over 400 square feet (excluding heavy machinery), Santerra Stonecraft; Booth Small Equipment, The Mojack; Booth Heavy Equipment, Strongco Equipment; and Best in Show, Envirobond Products.

“The sponsors of Congress 2009 and its many different events are an integral part of the event’s success,” said Paul Day. This year’s sponsors include: Ariens, Chrysler Canada, General Motors, John Deere, Blue Sky Nursery, Bobcat of Hamilton, Doubletree by Hilton Toronto Airport, Exmark, Kubota, McCloskey, Radisson Suites Hotel Toronto Airport, Sittler Environmental, Turf Revolution and Vermeer Canada.

Legacy Room sponsors include Hort Protect, Kubota Canada, Vanden Bussche Irrigation and Equipment, Stihl, Nutrite (Division of Fertichem), The G & L Group and Echo Power Equipment (Canada).

New products

Each year, attendees and exhibitors come together to preview the latest trends, newest tools and innovations in the industry.

Congress 2009 received high marks for its many new and green products.  Adding to the excitement, a variety of environmentally friendly products were launched during Congress 2009, and the Green Forum was the perfect place to exchange information and best practices on sustainable green initiatives.

For a complete list of Awards of Excellence winners, see the special pull-out in this edition of Horticulture Review. New videos from the Awards program have been posted on www.loawards.com, featuring Haig Seferian on Citytv, video clips from the awards, and the horticulture in cinema montage.

Congress 2010 will be held on Jan. 12-14.

Green Forum has great response

In recognition of the theme of Go Green Today, a timely new feature at Congress 2009 was the Green Forum. Auspiciously located in Hall ‘F’ near the main show entrance, the Green Forum offered booth space to companies with sustainable products and services for the horticulture industry, as well as a stage for presentations on best environmental practices.

Raymond Carrière, president of Communities in Bloom and a partner in the Green Forum initiative, explained that the initial concept of the Green Forum was to provide a venue for members of the horticultural industry and municipalities to network about environmentally sound products and services.

“We promoted Congress and the Green Forum to our Communities in Bloom network, and were pleased with the response from the municipalities,” says Carrière. “In its initial year, the Green Forum was a success in that it brought the trade and municipalities together to talk about environmental products and services.”

A small stage within the Green Forum provided an opportunity for talks on topics such as LO’s new Environmental scorecard (currently in development), smart water management practices, rainwater harvest systems, environmentally-friendly equipment and green roof construction. Representatives from the City of Toronto made a short presentation about some of that city’s green initiatives that touched on broad topics such as the changing climate, then focused on specifics such as river and creek clean up projects.   The Green Forum sponsors this year were John Deere and Turf Revolution.


Congress Committee

Brian Lofgren, chair
Brian Cocks CHT, vice-chair
Scott Beaudoin
Terry Childs
Doug Coote
Barry Dickson
Beth Edney CLD
Paul de Groot
Nathan Helder
Michael Laporte CHT
Bob McCannell
Klaas Sikkema
Nick Solty
Monica Van Maris


Congress Volunteers - Thank you

Irene Bultena
Emily Bright
Doug Coote
Paul De Groot
Bob Dickson, CLD
Paul Doornbos CHT, CLP
Sharon Fleming
Dan Gray
Jim Gray
Gillian Hargreaves
John Hawkes
Nathan Helder
Ann Hollings
Ann Jakins
Liz Klose CHT
John Lamberink CHT
Moira MacDonald
John Moons
Kevin O’Hara
Irina Polstvin
Greg Redshaw
Hamid Safdari
Gerrit Tervrugt CHT
Sonia Thompson
Christine van den Bogerd
Ernest van Helsdingen

Caption: Visitors jammed the entrance to Congress 2009 to view the latest in big machines, plants, services and much more.