GWA at Cultivate ’16

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GWA members gather at Cultivate ’16 for a Connect Meeting

by Ann McCormick

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A birthday cake made with ‘SunPatiens’ impatiens

Thanks to a generous offer by AmericanHort, over two dozen GWA members enjoyed free registration to Cultivate ’16 in Columbus, Ohio. I was delighted to be one of those able to attend this event, billed as “the largest all-industry trade show in North America.”

My first impression matched the descriptions I heard from others who had previously attended. Exhibitors covered every aspect of the horticultural world – from plant breeders, to greenhouse suppliers, to retail nurseries and everything imaginable in between. I was warned that they exhibit floor was large and I should be prepared for lots of walking. They were right. Wearing comfortable track shoes and sporting a just-purchased rolling briefcase stocked with a notepad and a thick stack of business cards, I hit the trade floor.

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Pan American Seeds flower display

It’s hard to summarize the wide range of exhibitors and products at Cultivate ‘16 so I quizzed my fellow GWA attendees for their thoughts. Here’s what impressed us.

  • A kaleidoscope of cheerful colors dominated the retail products. Several vendors were offering pots in a variety of textures and hues.
  • Succulents made a strong showing. I saw them on vertical walls, in clamshell containers, and even in tiny shot glasses.
  • Several plant vendors had product lines that focused on plants and products for limited space gardeners.
  • Show exhibitors gave GWA members opportunities to get background information on new plants and products, including some not yet on the market.
  • With 2016 being named the Year of the Begonia by National Garden Bureau, the Ball Seed display featured their Jurassic series of Rex Begonias.
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Members chatting before the Connect meeting began

One of the highlights of our time there was a press luncheon sponsored by AmericanHort. Lunch was a delicious grilled steak salad delivered to our plates in a rectangular glass bowl. It was such a novel presentation I actually took a picture of my lunch – something I never do.

Following the lunch we gathered for a GWA Connect meeting, where we had time to catch up on each other’s lives. Ashley Hodak Sullivan, Deputy Executive Director of the GWA Management team, also updated us on the latest developments in GWA, including the new GWA bookstore and various travel discounts for members they will soon have ready.

Succulents featured in a vertical garden display

All in all, the trip was a resounding success for me – and I’m sure it was for my fellow GWA members too. We came home with lots of information on new products, updates on the future of the horticulture industry, and many new contacts we cultivated on the trade show floor that could lead to future assignments.


About the Author:

Ann McCormickAnn McCormick, the Herb ‘n Cowgirl, is a columnist for Herb Quarterly and a feature writer for The Dallas Morning News. She also shares her love of herbs and her gardening techniques as a speaker and media guest. To find out more about the Herb ‘n Cowgirl visit her at or look her up on Facebook as “herbncowgirl.”



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.

One thought on “GWA at Cultivate ’16”

  1. Thanks for the recap, Ann – even if I hate to hear everything I missed! I’m combing through the exhibitor directory, but I’m particularly interested in the vendors with solutions for limited space gardeners. Can you point me to a few?


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