January 5, 2021
tony digiovanni2020 will stand out in the history books as the year of Covid chaos. From a profession perspective, Covid is a blessing mixed with a little guilt. The fact that the population was confined encouraged spending to improve and enhance homes and gardens.

As a consequence, most members reported strong sales after a very rough start. The largest issue continues to be finding employees. Another serious issue is escalating insurance costs, especially for those in the snow removal business. The guilt arises because other professions have been devastated. So many have suffered through the effects of Covid. We have a great deal to be thankful for.  

Looking back at 2020, I would like to acknowledge the perseverance and inspiration of our membership. The LO Covid-19 Task Force has met almost 100 times in order to provide you with helpful information and encouragement in the face of uncertainty. Our garden communicators mobilized when we needed them and made sure the public and the politicians were aware of the life-enhancing and essential nature of our profession. Our collective work provides a respite from Covid fatigue. I love the title of Lucas Nelson’s song, "Turn off the news - Plant a Garden.” It appears many have done just that. We have cause to celebrate.    

I would also like to acknowledge the outstanding and tireless work of our publisher, Lee Ann Knudsen. Lee Ann and her husband have decided to retire to a cottage in the Alleghenies. Lee Ann has contributed a lifetime to ensuring our communications department reflects the very best of the profession and our staff family. I will always remember Lee Ann with fondness. Her integrity-filled personality ensured the content of our communications was truthful and received with trust. She will be missed. Thank you Lee Ann, for your friendship, loyalty and service-oriented inspiration.    

2021 represents newness, change and hope. The days are getting longer. Renewal is in the air. A Covid vaccine gives rise to optimism and positivity.   

Although 2020 provided the most extreme change that any of us have experienced in our lifetime, it also highlighted foundational values and truths that provide comfort. Change is inevitable, but values and principles are unchanging and provide the stability we need to weather any storm.   

I have often referred to myself as the “official observer.” I have had the opportunity to meet thousands of individuals in my role. By observing, listening to and reflecting on these awesome personalities, I have been able to distil some of the never changing principles that provide stability in times of constant change and uncertainty. Here is what I have learned:

The principle of care and contribution (give back mentality)

I have come across so many great leaders in our organization who really do not need us. It is sometimes a mystery to me why so many individuals remain engaged, even if they are retired or independently wealthy. These wonderful individuals taught me that we are more than our businesses and organizations. Our organizations exist to be a conduit for caring and positive change. They exist to leave a positive legacy.  

We are in the “caring for each other” business. Landscape and horticulture are the conduit we use. We are really a club for mutual benefit and improvement. We are prosperity partners. Even as competitors, our role is to wish each other well, mentor each other and generate goodwill that inspires others now and in the future. I find it interesting to note that the act of caring is infectious and inspiring and communicates at an emotional level. Acts of caring are indelibly imprinted in our memory and last a lifetime. Acts of caring are like a flame that spreads. Acts of caring enhances lives, builds each other up and promotes growth financially, personally, spiritually, emotionally, socially and most importantly they leave a legacy because they spread from one person to the other and from one generation to the next.


No matter what you are facing in life, having a vision of the future provides energy and hope and mobilizes many others to participate in achieving that vision. At LO, our collective vision is a prosperous, professional, ethical, recognized, valued and contribution-oriented profession. To achieve this vision, we are focused on mutual benefit and improvement. Our overall mission is to enhance lives as we work to realize our vision.  

Goal setting (taking aim)

There is unlimited information and constant change and complexity. The only way to achieve progress is to filter out the distractions and focus on goals. This is a key to achievement and progress.

Synergy and sharing

The definition of synergy is: “The interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.” Synergy is what Landscape Ontario is about. We are part of something bigger than ourselves when we cooperate with each other. We are in the cooperation business.  


It is so important to look at life through the lens of those you interact with. Empathy leads to actions that benefit everyone. Empathy forces you to realize the importance of thinking of others.

This is some of what I have learned from many of you. When I retire in September 2022, my goal is to write a book that captures the unchanging wisdom of the many individuals I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with. I wish you an awesome and wonderful new year.  
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director