Why I’m Making it a Priority to Attend Cleveland Grows!

Green Circle Growers Orchid Bay_GCG webBy Susan Martin

BUSY. It is our standard response when someone asks us how we’re doing and there’s no doubt many of us truly are busy. Making a living as a professional garden communicator takes a tremendous amount of effort to stay connected, educate ourselves on current issues and practices, and to keep the work coming.

As the summer travel season is coming to a close, maybe you are feeling weary of traveling to trade shows held in huge conference centers packed to the gills with merchandise, coordinating meetups and dinners with colleagues and schlepping backbreaking loads of catalogs back to your hotel room. I get it. I’ve been there—just a month or so ago, in fact.

But I’m going to the GWA Cleveland Grows! meeting anyway. Why?

First, I’m going because Clevelander Maria Zampini and I have crafted a once in a lifetime experience for you. Our scheming began on a rainy night last October (yes, we’ve been planning this for almost a year!) at my kitchen table over a glass of wine and a map of Cleveland. No huge conference centers, no schlepping, and everything is planned for you.

I’m also attending because I know this event is going to be a ton of FUN. I like to plan the kinds of meetings I like to attend. If you’ve ever attended a meeting I’ve planned, you know I pack a lot of action into a short amount of time and everyone leaves with cool swag. Cleveland Grows! will be no different.

Most importantly, I’m attending because this is going to be one of the best opportunities for professional development I’ve had all year. We’ve planned a wide range of experiences that will offer something for everyone who attends.

We’ll be touring two grower operations I’ve been reading other people’s stories about for Landcraft-DennisSchrader's gardenyears but have never toured myself—Willoway Nurseries and Green Circle Growers. Both companies are rolling out the red carpet for us, giving us private tours, telling us the stories behind their operations, feeding us catered meals and giving out the kind of swag that will make you swoon. The photo opps are bound to be equally valuable.

We’re touring Petitti Garden Center too, consistently ranked in the top 100 garden centers in all of America. Given that IGCs are some of my favorite places on earth, I’m pretty confident I’ll like this place. We’ll also get caught up on trends this retailer has seen this season, which will lead to new story ideas.

For my own personal gardening inspiration, I am looking forward to touring the private gardens of award winning local garden designers Bobbie Schwartz and Nancy Drobnick. Bobbie and I share a love of perennial plants and membership in the Perennial Plant Association. She’ll be signing copies of her new book, Garden Renovation, for us in her garden. For over 40 years, Nancy has studied has intensely studied world metaphysics, mathematics, physics, astronomy and horticulture. People who have visited her garden tell me my mind will be blown. I can’t wait.

The most incredible opportunity we’ve lined up is something unique to Cleveland. This area happens to be the home of many of the industry’s leading trade publications’ editors including Matt McClellan (GIE Media), Jen Polanz (Ball Publishing) and Janeen Wright (Meister Media). They will be joining us on Friday evening during our catered dinner sponsored by Green Circle Growers for a Meet the Editors panel discussion. They’ll share what they are looking for from us and we’ll have a frank discussion of how we can all work better together. Live. In person. Exclusively for our group. What a remarkable opportunity!

At the end of an exhausting but extremely fulfilling Friday, we’ll retire to the Embassy Suites by Hilton hotel in Beachwood, OH. Rooms are large enough to share and the hotel offers a free breakfast. It is conveniently located just minutes from our first stop of the day on Saturday morning.

This meeting is guaranteed to be 24 hours of incredibly worthwhile experiences that will refresh my spirit, renew my way of thinking about how our industry operates, boost my photo library and fill my “fun” quota for the month. I wouldn’t miss it. How could you?


All are welcome—bring a friend!
Member Rate: $60/person
Members can reserve a spot for a guest at their own member rate.
Non-Member Rate: $95/person

Did we mention we’re only holding 50 spots open for this event? Register today while there are still a few spots left!

Questions? Reach me at gardenersuesnews@gmail.com or Maria Zampini at maria@upshoothort.com or call the GWA office at 212.297.2198.

See you in Cleveland!

Meet the AuthorSue Martin

Susan Martin is a Regional Director for Region III and member since 2004. She works full time as a professional horticultural marketer, writer and speaker for trade and consumer audiences. After earning her stripes pulling weeds in her mother’s garden since age four, Susan has earned the pleasure of gardening in “black gold” (acidic sandy loam) near the shore of Lake Michigan.


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 “Why I’m Making it a Priority to Attend Cleveland Grows!”

  1. Agreed! Busy is not a good excuse! Along with my day job, I’ve just started directing a play at a local college on M-Th evenings, so I’ll be working doubles all week, then on Thursday night after directing the students in Grand Rapids, I’ll pick up my co-worker and we’re starting the first 1/2 of our drive to Cleveland. That way we can begin the second half of our drive bright and early Friday morning, check into the hotel in Cleveland, and be at Willoway in time for the early tour! Why? Because this is an amazing program and I don’t want to miss it! The tours will be second-to-none, and as a garden communicator I think the ‘Meet the Editors’ panel discussion is a GREAT idea…plus we get to see all of our GWA friends again! Win-win-win-win. Will I be tired? Probably, but Sunday is a day of rest, right? Hope to see you all there!


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