June 15, 2011
Beth Edney
Beth Edney
Canada’s fall show for the garden and floral industries, Expo was launched more than a decade ago. Now independent garden centre owners, retail florists and mass merchants all depend on Expo as an important source for the right products. The growth and continued success of the trade show is primarily due to the input and influence of Landscape Ontario’s members and volunteers who participate in sector groups, sit on committees and volunteer their time and talent to the show.

To recognize and honour some of those people, interviews in Horticulture Review over the next few months will feature some of the key players. This issue we highlight the new chair of the show committee Beth Edney CLD.

Q. You’ve had a remarkable career, owning your own landscape design firm and contributing hundreds of volunteer hours to Landscape Ontario and your community. Tell us how you got involved in Landscape Ontario’s show committee and what your roles and responsibilities have been to date?
A. I got involved with the show committee through Paul Day back in 2000, when he helped me coordinate a mini-trade show for the annual conference of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. My first meeting with the committee was in the summer of 2001. So, it’s been 10 years already! In that time frame, my role with the show committee evolved. I was the vice chair for Expo from 2006 to 2010. In 2009, I created the first entrance garden, helped design the New Product Showcase and introduced the Landscape Designers’ breakfast at Expo 2009. I remained active in all of those aspects and helped design the Green for Life Stage in 2010. My role was to help fulfil the artistic director’s and the show manager’s vision and take it to the next level.  

One of my proudest accomplishments was creating a Landscape Designers’ Conference at Congress.

Q. What compelled you to take on this new role as chair of the show committee?
A. The decision to take on the role of chair was an easy one. I am always humbled by the incredible commitment of my peers who sit on this committee and take time out of their busy schedule to actively help out before, during and after each show. This working committee is comprised of dedicated professionals who understand the value of the Landscape Ontario trade shows and are always looking for ways to make the shows better, year after year. As chair, I hope to contribute in some small way to these efforts.

Q. What new directions and new opportunities does Expo 2011 provide for LO members and the larger audience of trade show vendors and visitors?
A. Everything about the show is being revitalized with a move to a new building, new show dates and hours and an entirely new look that spotlights plants and products with enhanced lighting. The atmosphere will showcase vendors’ products and create a more intimate setting, which is conducive to networking. The new setting for Expo is meant to help engage more personal contact. This is an element that is missing when dealing with suppliers or buyers in our everyday exchanges, most of which are taking place over the telephone or the Internet.   

Q. What do you see as the greatest challenge to growing Expo 2011 and keeping it relevant to the green industry?
A. Many attendees think that the show is always the same old thing year after year, but since 2009 when Expo took a new artistic direction, the show has proved itself on the cutting edge of trends, innovative plants and products, and has become a must-attend event to keep up-to-date on all things floral and garden. To paraphrase David Austin Jr. (of David Austin Roses), Expo has nothing to envy from the European horticultural trade shows. It has managed to carve itself a unique and trend-setting identity.  The challenge is to get people to realize that they need to come to this show.

Q. How important is greening Landscape Ontario’s trade shows, and is that an important part of your future plans?
A. In order to appeal to the younger generation of buyers and exhibitors, we need to be cognizant of the carbon footprint of our trade shows. For the last three years, these concerns have been integrated into our planning process and we are proud to be Green for Life. Many of the products are reused, composted, or recycled, thanks to the diligent efforts of our exhibitors and suppliers.

Q. Do you have any other comments about the show and your role as chair?
A. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for members of our industry to attend Expo and Congress, to grow as professionals by engaging with their peers. The trade shows provide an important platform for the exchange of ideas. Expo is going to be a great opportunity for the green industry to gather and plan for the future. I look forward to helping engage the next generation and helping them become more involved in the horticultural community.