April 15, 2010
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director

"Passion” was the theme of this year’s Canada Blooms.  

The dictionary defines passion as an intense, driving feeling or conviction; a strong liking to some activity, object or concept; an object of desire of deep interest.  

The many members who contributed their time, resources, emotions, goodwill and enthusiasm to build the Landscape Ontario Green for Life garden at Canada Blooms are bursting with passion for their industry, peers, excellence, contribution and community. Their passion benefited all members. Their passion made us all look good. Their passion reflected the story of a professional and ethical industry. Their passion infected visitors to the garden. Their passion infected many of us. The real story of the Landscape Ontario garden is the members’ passion, care, enthusiasm, contribution and leadership.   

It started with Tim Kearney of Garden Creations of Ottawa and Landscape Ontario’s first vice president. He was the driving force behind last year’s amazing garden. Only a passionate and caring person would “step up to the plate” again.   
The central problem of Canada Blooms is that it costs way too much (in time and resources) to create gardens that showcase the potential of our industry. Tim realized that the future of Canada Blooms depends on a team approach. The Landscape Ontario garden was an experiment to test this new concept. Instead of one company building a garden, many companies showcased their talent. More than 40 companies were involved from across the Province. Every chapter was represented. They came because they wanted the public to understand the value of our industry, the services we provide, the benefit we confer and the legacy we leave.  

A wonderful quote from an email Tim sent me describes it best: “Members agreed to come together as one, check their egos at the door and build one garden, one vision and one dream for all to enjoy. A quick calculation indicates at least 160 hours of build time (pre-build included). This is at cost, with an average of ten on site at all times, which works out to $50,000 of donated labour. This does not include any time for students. There is much more to celebrate than the garden. This is the hidden message. Money comes in different forms. Our pay comes from an appreciation of what a garden actually does for you, but also an understanding that our profession is special and that our industry has many individuals worthy of superstar status. This project oozes this. Our pay is the public’s and media’s recognition of this.”

Many superstars

There were many superstars involved in the garden. The organizing team members, Tim Kearney, Beth Edney, Tony Lombardi, Jason Smalley and Denis Flanagan, were a pleasure to watch in action. They met by conference call twice a week for over two months to go over the hundreds of details. People needed to be recruited, materials had to be sourced, quantities had to be estimated, construction details had to be figured out, budgets had to be calculated and concepts had to become reality. At times the emotional rollercoaster became overwhelming, as weight restrictions, budget limitations or complex logistics required hundreds of changes.   

Throughout the stress, the coordinating team complemented each other.  They were like a choir singing in harmony. Tim Kearney played the role of coach. He is the most passionate person I know. Beth Edney and Tony Lombardi made up the design team. Beth brought high energy and creativity to the team. Tony complemented Beth by his quiet efficiency and balancing nature. Jason Smalley contributed his organizational skills. Denis followed up on hundreds of details and asked the hard questions.   

For the list of the other superstars, see pages 12 and 13 in this issue
Tony DiGiovanni may be reached at tonydigiovanni@landscapeontario.com.