May 15, 2016
Garden Expo coming home to Congress 2017
Expo's move to Congress in 2017 will unite all sectors of the landscape profession under one roof.
More than 16 years ago a number of Congress exhibitors serving the independent garden centre market asked Landscape Ontario to create a fall trade show. LO resisted at first. The idea went against the strategic vision and LO was concerned it would negatively affect Congress. After recurring pressure from several exhibitors LO decided to create a fall show at the Toronto Congress Centre called Garden Expo. It proved to be the right move at the time; the show tripled in size and became an important and relevant marketplace for independent retailers.

Seven years ago attendance started to decline. The market changed very quickly; mass merchants gained market share and many independent garden centres sold their land to developers. At the same time, hard goods suppliers consolidated, garden centres formed buying groups and both started their own “captured trade shows.” In addition, buying patterns and cycles have changed. In the past it was necessary for independent garden centres to purchase supplies in the fall — this is no longer always true.

In reaction, LO reinvented Garden Expo in 2015 and brought together a number of other events and hosted “Thrive” at the Ancaster Fairgrounds. Although it was an excellent experience, “Thrive” did not attract the numbers as anticipated. In order to better serve the garden centre market, LO spent the beginning of 2016 collecting valuable feedback from past exhibitors and attendees, as well as from both the LO growers and garden centre sector groups. The overwhelming direction is that LO should move Garden Expo back to Congress.

The original strategic plan for Congress directed LO to bring the entire profession together by hosting a world-class trade show that would be a conduit for professional and business development, personal growth, relationship building, networking and learning.  

LO is excited and energized about Expo returning home to Congress. A number of enhancements will be made including the inclusion of garden centre focused education, as well as a defined Garden Expo footprint within the show.   

LO’s original vision of hosting a world-class trade show incorporating all sectors of the landscape and horticultural value chain is still valid. We look forward to growth. “Change comes bearing gifts.”