July 15, 2012
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director

Landscape Ontario has a distinct family feel to it. Even though we are a trade association that is in business to advance the green industry, I am reminded daily how Landscape Ontario is really a community. It’s a family made up of many individuals who truly care about the industry and the people who are in it.   

When we purchased our home site in Milton, I remember how proud the members were of their collective home. One day Frans and Guy Peters from Humber Nurseries of Brampton sent over a crew to build and plant the front bed full of ornamental grasses. A few weeks later Joe Melo and his sons Jim and Nelson from Melo Landscaping of Cambridge and Allstone Quarry Products of Schomberg came by with large granite boulders and a large granite ‘Landscape Ontario’ sign.

Months later, we were creating an entrance boulevard, when John and Bill Putzer from Putzer Nurseries sent over a crew to plant an allée of ornamental pear trees. (I sometimes wonder if John and Bill are sorry that Landscape Ontario moved into the neighbourhood because we are constantly asking them for help with planting trees, weeding beds or supplying equipment.)  

When Paul Olsen from BTN Nurseries, Schomberg, completed his presidency, he sent over a large granite rock with our name and logo commemorating our 25th anniversary.

Many examples of contributions

These types of contributions of time and product are very commonplace.  They are what make Landscape Ontario such a great place to work. And the examples are many.

One day we received a cheque from Connon Nurseries (NVK) of Waterdown for a sizable amount. I doubt Neil Vanderkruk will even remember, but when I asked what the cheque was for, he said he just wanted to support the association.   

This year at Canada Blooms a number of rose growers under the leadership of John Bakker of Bakker Nurseries in St. Catharines arranged to force 600 roses. At the end of the show, we moved them to the LO greenhouse until the spring. They are now planted in two beds facing the 401.

John Hewson, chair of our Grounds Management Sector Group, generously volunteered his time and equipment to outline the beds and remove the sod.

Keith Osborne of Gro-Bark in Caledon arranged for Putzer Nurseries to send over a tractor to break up the very hard subsoil. Gro-Bark also supplied many yards of soil at a very low discounted price.

After the rose beds were constructed, I asked John Bakker to give us advice on how to arrange and plant the beds. After his visit, I received a phone call to let me know he was sending over 200 more rose plants.   

Speaking of Gro-Bark…it was owner Bill McKague’s idea to take one of his 50-foot trailers and place the LO Green for Life brand on it with the inspirational message, “Plant a garden...Believe in tomorrow!”

I am almost hesitant to point out individuals in this article, because there are hundreds more who should be recognized. I want to apologize upfront for not having the space or memory to mention everyone.  

We all know about the huge contribution of the membership in restoring St. James Park. I recently received an email from the St. James Park community. I had to share this with you, because it is another example of the wonderful caring people our industry seems to attract.  

“When your members rescued St. James Park last winter, I’m sure you know you became heroes to people everywhere. Here around the park you also inspired us to share the results of your work. The attached poster announces six free evening concerts this summer that will be enjoyed by hundreds of people across the city. This is to warmly invite you and all your members to come and enjoy the ‘fruits of your labours.’”     

And speaking of family

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend Geneva Tubby’s farewell breakfast. For those of you who don’t know, Geneva was the office manager for Moonstruck Landscape Lighting and Arbordale Landscaping in Concord. She is past-president Bob Tubby’s daughter. Geneva is moving to Scotland to pursue a new direction at the University of Edinburgh, where she will study Public Policy in her quest of a Masters degree.

While listening to the heartfelt, emotional and bittersweet speeches from Bob and fellow Arbordale and Moonstruck employees, I felt a curious sense of pride. I was proud of the family nature of our industry. I was proud of the caring attitude and culture that Bob and Mitzi have been able to instill within their extended business family. I was very proud that the Tubby extended family is part of the Landscape Ontario family. They reflect the best our industry has to offer. 
Tony DiGiovanni may be reached at tony@landscapeontario.com.