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.
Not too long ago being social and networking involved getting out of the chair and meeting people. Face to face meetings in coffee houses, restaurants, and other venues sealed business deals and were a pleasant distraction for solitary writers. Then the 21st century brought high-speed internet, Twitter, and Facebook into our lives. The art of face-to-face networking was replaced by constant communication in the virtual world.
The GWA Annual Conferenceis one of the few places where you can brush off your skills at networking in the real world with real conversations that are not limited to 64 character thoughts and hashtags. This networking bonanza begins with a round of meeting and greeting those friends in the industry that you may have only known in the virtual world from Facebook and Twitter or even email. Face-to-face meetings are subtly different from virtual conversations. The non-verbal cues we get from voice inflections or facial expressions are just two of these differences.
I recently met with a local visionary who dreams of creating a world-class garden attraction at a local retail property he manages. He envisions a month long exposition that features speakers, workshops, elaborate garden displays, children’s activities, and more.
The man reached out to me at the suggestion of our mutual friend, the travel agent I partner with for garden tours. Our meeting included one of his consultants, a woman who knows me from my garden writing and from my television show, A Growing Passion.
He was on fire as he described the event. When he finished, he turned to me, a bit breathless, and asked if and how I could help make his dream come true. I chuckled. Nearly every aspect of what he described I have done and/or could do – design gardens, work with growers, organize events, assemble a roster of renowned speakers (that’s you guys) and designers, speak to the audiences myself, coordinate with vendors, promote the event to my own audiences and to the wider public using traditional and social media, and more.
This year marks the thirty-first year anniversary of my continuing membership in GWA. Gosh it doesn’t seem at all possible that it has been that long!
Thirty one years ago, way back in 1985, I somehow heard about a group that was offering an award for students who had published articles about gardening. At that time I had a few articles published, thanks to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Arizona and the Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia. I even had some I was paid for, one in a local newspaper and one for Greenhouse Manager magazine. Continue reading “Happy Anniversary to Me! Celebrating Membership in GWA”
“How do you find the time?” And so the banter begins when I tell a friend about my new writing career wedged in the middle of my current one, that of a wife and mother of five. New…it still feels unfamiliar despite seven years of organizing, writing, and promoting my first book, and now creating a blog to help form and shape my next one. Then again I still consider myself a beginning gardener after 25 years working our land, from newlywed apartment patio pots to the suburban back yard of our married life. Both writing and gardening have built-in humility, making their practice frustrating yet beautiful, elusive and full of grace.
It’s no wonder a career combining both leaves me wondering if there is a better way. I’m forever exploring efficiencies and best practices. I don’t have an answer, but I have observed that a small effort applied consistently over time – snippets, if you will – can yield much more elegant results than I feel worthy of. This is the beautiful, full of grace part that is a welcome balm in the bewilderment of how-will-this-ever-get-done?? Continue reading “The Power of Snippets: Finding Pockets of Time and Making them Productive”
The Queen City gave GWA members a royal welcome at the April 13 Connect event with an abundance of blooms and hospitality at theCincinnati Flower Showand theCincinnati 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, ofKendrick & 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. Continue reading “Collaboration in Cincinnati: GWA Connects at “Cincinnati Blooms””
Editor’s Note: A significant part of the GWA Grows blog mission is to help members know and appreciate each other. In addition to the writers, speakers, and other freelance communicators, GWA is fortunate to have a variety of trade members who are also financial sponsors. Occasionally we will be featuring one of those organizations to learn how GWA members can benefit from this mutual relationship. First up is St. Lynn’s Press.
By Katie Elzer-Peters
Last month I had a candid chat with Paul Kelly, publisher of St. Lynn’s Press. We talked about what it means to be an author in the current book landscape. Paul has worked in the publishing industry for 35 years. He began his career working for a large, big-name publisher in San Francisco. “Our process was very laborious. There were many, many layers to the projects,” he noted. The unwieldy bureaucracy he saw made a lasting impression on him. “I thought ‘If I ever start a publishing house, I want to make everything as simple as possible.’ That’s what we do at St. Lynn’s.”
St. Lynn’s produces books with distinctive topics targeted to highlight specific audiences. The books they publish are designed in terms of trim size/design and content to be equally at home in bookstores as they are in a botanical garden or gift shop. This forethought for marketing potential means St. Lynn’s distribution opportunities are greater than for a typical gardening book.
Every year, around the end of January, I keep a close eye on my inbox for the annual invite to the GWA Region VII luncheon held at Canada Blooms, Canada’s largest flower and garden show. This event generally sells out, so I always make sure I register right away.
The day started bright with a tour for GWA attendees through all the display gardens before the doors open to the public. It’s a great opportunity to take pictures without a ton of people in them. Helen Battersby of Toronto Gardens led the group through each space, providing lots of interesting information and anecdotes about the designs and plants.
This year I had the pleasure of being one of the speakers at the Chicago Flower & Garden Show. My talk scheduled for Thursday morning was “Cultivating Your Green Thumb – Indoors.”
After my presentation I proceeded to the show. There were so many beautiful gardens to see. I especially loved the topiaries that were done by the Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo. They were a huge hit with the kids and adults alike, and brought attention to pollinators. Yay!
In a world where everyone’s eyes are focused down on the screen of their cell phone, calling attention to plants is increasingly a challenge. But we gardeners don’t shrink from getting down and dirty. We are always willing to do whatever it takes to grow something beautiful, tasty, or intriguing…am I right?
Those of us who want to promote horticulture are plant pushers as well as plant geeks. We need to use every tool at our disposal to make our product attractive. Great photography is indispensable these days…it’s a visual world. People love stories, so you and I need to hone those skills so we can tell a great tale. And social networking? A given. Blogging and websites? Essential. GWA is about developing all of these abilities and proficiencies.
CONNECT! It’s a word that’s now one-third of the new GWA brand: Connect. Learn. Grow. According to IBM, with the expansion of the “internet of things,” knowledge may double every 12 hours. How is GWA supposed to stay current? How can a GWA membership even begin to define “keeping up?” How can GWA membership help a garden communicator CONNECT to the profession of communicating, the horticultural community, and the experience of gardening?