Collaboration in Cincinnati: GWA Connects at “Cincinnati Blooms”

Cincinnati Group Shot
GWA members gathered in Cincinnati for the Cincinnati Flower & Garden Show
Cincinnati BotGar Tulips
The Cincinnati Botanic Garden was awash with tulips

By Teresa Woodard

The Queen City gave GWA members a royal welcome at the April 13 Connect event with an abundance of blooms and hospitality at the Cincinnati Flower Show and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s impressive tulip show. Two other Columbus residents Diana Lockwood and Michael Leach carpooled with me to the Show’s lovely setting at Yeatman’s Cove Park, downtown along the Ohio River.

We were lucky to have the talented Kevin O’Dell, of Kendrick & O’Dell Landscaping, as our tour director on the opening day of this five-day show. He’s one of the show’s organizers and a long-time driving force in the area’s horticultural world. Kevin led us through landscapes from Cincinnati’s various sister cities which featured the show’s theme “An International Adventure.” We saw a vertical wall for Jordan, a forest of forced Japanese maples, a matchstick replica of a Chinese bridge, a gold-medal-winning French display with a flower-filled bicycle, a Taiwanese pool, and a cubist display from Munich. Other areas in the exhibits showcased trends in pollinator plants, upcycling elements in the garden, and container combinations, including a few in the emerging softer color palettes.

Inside the dramatic tablescapes tent, we were wowed by a Chinese dragon of flowers and a Zimbabwe-inspired display with a smattering of Gloriosa lilies. Kevin told us the key to the show’s success is the collaborative nature of the Cincinnati horticulture community. Many exhibitors rallied to help each other with last minute details and to protect plants during frosty nights leading up to the show.

In the afternoon, we met GWA members Scott Beuerlein and Stephen Foltz for a tour of the blooms at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. We snapped lots of photos of the Botanical Garden’s 107,000 tulip bulbs planted around hundreds of flowering viburnums, dogwoods, and crabapples. Stephen says their favorite bulbs include Monte Carlo (yellow), Monzella (yellow and red), Pink Impressions (pink) and Merry Go Round (red). He says they prefer planting the mid-season tulip varieties that typically last for three weekends in the Cincinnati Zone 6 climate. Volunteers help plant the thousands of bulbs in the fall. Then at the end of the spring bloom season, the bulbs are dug and filled in shopping bags to sell at a bargain of $5 a bag.

Scott and Stephen told us about another example of the cooperative spirit of Cincinnati’s horticulture world. The Botanical Garden partners with area growers to make the winners of its Annual Trial Program and “Best Perennials for Pollinators” available to the public through regional independent garden centers. Scott is extending this cooperative spirit by leading a community-wide “Taking Root” tree challenge to plant two million trees in the Cincinnati area by 2020.

No doubt, Cincinnati’s cooperative spirit also inspired our own Connect group as we learned of each other’s book projects, writing assignments, new blogs, and horticulture travels. We’re now Facebook friends, encouraging each other with our various upcoming projects and looking forward to connecting at other GWA events.

 Meet the Author

TeresaWoodardTeresa Woodard, who organized the Connect event, is a freelance writer and contributes to Country Gardens, BH&G Special Interest magazines, Midwest Living, The Chicago Tribune and regional magazines. She is a master gardener and judge for America in Bloom. She blogs with two other GWA members at



Author: GardenComm

GardenComm, formerly known as GWA: the Association for Garden Communicators, provides leadership and opportunities for education, recognition, career development and a forum for diverse interactions for professionals in the field of gardening communication. GardenComm members includes book authors, bloggers, staff editors, syndicated columnists, free-lance writers, photographers, speakers, landscape designers, television and radio personalities, consultants, publishers, extension service agents and more. No other organization in the industry has as much contact with the buying public as GardenComm members.

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