A GWA Regional Meeting in the Middle of Winter? You bet!

HeaderBy Diane Blazek

Try something different! Go somewhere new! See something spectacular!

This GWA Regional Meeting is at a time of year when most of us are not thinking about our garden, except maybe wistfully planning what might become reality next year.

But we are very excited to invite you to the Rotary Botanical Gardens Holiday Light Show in Janesville, Wisconsin on December 13, 2018.

We’ll begin our day at local garden center K&W Greenery for a tour, poinsettia painting demo and greenery workshop.

From there we’ll travel the short distance to Rotary Botanical Gardens for an afternoon of learning about plants for winter interest, winter pruning, listening to experts who will inspire your 2019 gardens and…for the grand finale, a private showing of Rotary’s Holiday Light Show by Horticulturist Mark Dwyer. If you’ve never been on a garden tour with Mark, you are in for a treat!

A few key features of this year’s light show:

  • As additional 50,000 lights in 2018 for 500,000+ total
  • Many botanical themed displays
  • Hundreds of lit holiday trees
  • Three thousand half-gallon milk jug luminaries
  • Decorated Japanese garden trees and shrubs contribute strong form (and color)
  • And much more…this will be the biggest show yet and incorporates the new Wellness Garden

Click here to register.

The group will meet at K&W Greenery at 12:30 p.m., located at 1328 US-14, Janesville, WI 53545

(Optional, price not included in event) Meet for lunch at 11:00 a.m. at Road Dawg Janesville, 2419 Morse Street, Janesville, WI 53545 If you wish to join the lunch, please R.S.V.P. to Diane Blazek at dblazek@aaswinners.com

Then each of us will drive to Rotary in our own transportation.

If a hotel is needed, there are several options:

We can’t wait to see you there! 

Meet the Author

Diane Blazek, Executive Director of All-America Selections® and National Garden BureauHeadher1

For more than 30 years, Diane has been immersed in gardening both personally and professionally. She brings a passion to the subject based on a history in the field of horticulture publishing as well as a love for gardening and culinary exploration. Growing up on a small family farm in northern Missouri, Diane spent years helping her parents plant, tend and harvest a large home vegetable garden. As the president and publisher at Ball Publishing for 15 years, she led the way in connecting the commercial side of the industry with consumers via the live focus groups called Consumer Buzz Live! Diane also managed Ball Publishing’s entry into consumer garden book publishing. Since December of 2009, Diane has been leading both All-America Selections and National Garden Bureau through an exciting period of growth as they establish themselves as inspirational resources in the minds of garden communicators, public gardens, garden retailers and home gardeners. With both organizations, the connection to the consumer is of topmost importance and by using that connection, she provides direction and insights to the industry via both organizations as well as to GWA, An Association of Garden Communicators where she serves as a National Director.




A Makeover Moment for GWA

jsyUkaygby Abra Lee

In 2003 Bravo network launched a television show called “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” It starts out with a team of men hopping into an SUV. Their mission: work together using their collective talents to help revamp the image of a straight man.

Known as the Fab Five, the team gets ready to take action and make positive change. Tossing on designer sunglasses they march off in formation and the work begins. By the end of each episode their client has become a better more refined version of themselves. The show was a hit and in season three Bravo network recognized the need to evolve its name to “Queer Eye.” The new change broadened the scope of its audience to allow makeovers of individuals regardless of gender or orientation.

The premise of this show sums up the best way to introduce the GWA “New Corporate Entity” taskforce. Led by C.L. Fornari and Kirk Brown, we are group of nine individuals from diverse personal and professional backgrounds. Instead of hopping into an SUV, we hopped onto a conference call and a chain of emails to discuss our mission: rebranding the image of GWA. In order for this beloved association to attain a higher level of success in the future, positive change must be made.

So how did this rebrand thought process work? In January we will officially merge two organizations into one (GWA and the GWA Foundation) and will have to file the paperwork (go to law) as a 501C3.  This makes it the perfect time to call our organization what it is, a group of communicators.

We started by taking a multipronged approach to reassess our name, logo, and  how to market ourselves moving forward. It did not take long to realize we needed to lean in and own who we truly are, an association of garden communicators. So why not just call ourselves that? Well, we already have a name GWA. However, standing on its own without any descriptors the acronym GWA does not reflect garden or communicators. In addition The Association for Garden Communicators is fourteen syllables long, a whole mouth full, and difficult to use in a fluid way for branding purposes. We needed a name that was to the point and stayed true to our authentic self. The end result was the suggestion GardenComm.

Shortening communications to comm makes sense. Step on any college campus and you will see buildings filled with MassComm majors, simply students learning to communicate with the masses. If that visual doesn’t resonate take a look at the ColorComm Network (www.colorcommnetwork.com). In seven short years, what started as an invite only luncheon of thirty-four women has turned into a thriving international organization for Women of Color in Communications. Even more engaging their association takes the name comm beyond a word for communications and uses it as an inclusive term that represents community.

Let’s be clear. GWA is a democracy. No name or logo change happens without a consensus of the creative minds of this association. We must look at ourselves through a critical lens and determine if this is our makeover moment. On behalf of the taskforce I am asking your support to get behind this positive change. With thoughtful consideration we can evolve to become the best version of ourselves. So put on your designer sunglasses, get in formation, and let’s continue the work to build an international community of garden communicators known as #GardenComm.

Meet the AuthorJ76FC4vQ

Abra Lee is a Horticulturist Extraordinaire speaking truth on plants, fashion, and culture. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @conquerthesoil

GWA Region II Baltimore Meeting, 9/20/18

By Janet Mackey

Gardens Galore! 15 GWA members from Region 2 enjoyed a lovely September day with a tour of Baltimore’s Cylburn Arboretum, visits to 5 private gardens in the rolling hills northwest of the city, a shopping spree at Babikow Greenhouses (with a wholesale discount), and fellowship at dinner at a local restaurant. We were treated to beautifully designed and tended gardens featuring intimate spaces, sunny borders, woodland walks, and vistas overlooking acres of meadowlands. The day provided inspiration, garden design ideas, and new plants to consider (or purchase!) in addition to time to get to know some of our fellow Region 2 members better.

This railing guides guests to the pool at Walnut Hill

Cylburn Arboretum offers 200 acres of trees, gardens, trails, and an historic mansion in a Baltimore City park. Head Gardener Patricia Sherman highlighted the tropical collection, salvias, and dahlias planted around the mansion.

Penney and A.C. Hubbard, owners of Walnut Hill, and Kathy Hudson, author of On Walnut Hill: The Evolution of a Garden, talked about the

A Joe Pye Weed at Walnut Hill hosts a chrysalis

development of the two-acre property over the years guided by design and plant ideas of the late Kurt Bluemel. A steep slope was transformed into terraced gardens. Stone steps and trails led through the hillside woodland garden of perennials – including yellow wax bells (Kirengeshoma palmata) and white spikes of black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) – and shrubs, understory trees, and stately mature trees.


Carol Macht’s nearby 3-acre property also featured terracing that created more useful spaces for perennial garden beds featuring many native plants, outdoor entertaining space, a swimming pool, and a beautiful view down grassy hills to the valley below.

A lovely stone wall with begonias in Nell Strathan’s woodland garden

Nell Strachan and Peter Ward’s multi-level home provided views into an amazing woodland garden that climbed down their steep hillside. A large paw paw tree (Asimina triloba) greeted visitors starting the decent; a nearby pathway, sided by a beautiful hedging of non-variegated Aucuba, provided a shiny deep green accent in the woods. An unusual Hearts-a-Bustin’ (Euonymous) bush still had a few scarlet and orange seedpods hanging from its branches.

The drive to the house at Longview provided views of recent stream restoration work and an orchard. The landscaping around the home included a series of terraces with gardens and a pool, a large fenced vegetable and cut-flower garden, raised beds with greens and berry bushes, and a unique arbor created by 2 espaliered apple trees bearing ripe red apples. Our group relaxed on the terrace for

Espaliered apple trees form an arbor at Longview

lunch and learned about recent garden history in the Baltimore area from Nell Strachan, including innovations in residential gardens by renowned designers such as Kurt Bluemel and Wolfgang Oehme.


Marilyn Van Tosh and Bob Thompson’s property featured a terrace surrounding a pool that overlooks a large managed meadow beginning to show its autumn colors. The homeowners continue to develop much of the rest of the property as a woodland garden with large swaths of shade plants including coral bells (Heuchera), Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum), and turtleheads (Chelone glabra) in spots where sunshine broke through the leaf cover.

Generous sponsors increased our enjoyment of the day. Washington Gardener Magazine sponsored coffee and pastries to start our day. Cavano’s Perennials, Inc. sponsored our delicious boxed lunches. Bower and Branch, Garden Media Group, and member, Wendy Brister, provided door prizes for several lucky members, ranging from homemade garden-fresh Bloody Mary mix to hedge shears. Thank you to each of them from the participants.

A caterpillar serves as a latch on Longview’s gate to the cutting garden

We also send thanks to Kathy Jentz, GWA Region 2 National Director, for organizing the tour, to Cylburn Arboretum for hosting the early morning photo shoot, to the homeowners and garden designers who shared their gardens with us, to Penney Hubbard for copies of On Walnut Hill signed by author Kathy Hudson, and to Babikow Greenhouses for allowing us to shop after hours and receive a wholesale discount.

Meet the AuthorHeadshot

Janet Mackey is a Master Gardener, writer, and speaker who loves seed starting, habitat gardening, and coaxing blossoms and foliar display from very shady spots. She is currently growing roots on the Eastern Shore of Maryland after a peripatetic career that included home gardens in upstate New York, Texas, the Washington, DC region, and northern California. Janet can be reached at janetmackey@verizon.net.