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Hort East 03 Report
by Carla Allen
by Carla Allen

Greetings from Nova Scotia!

Carla Allen has been gardening for the past 25 years, co-owned a nursery in southwestern Nova Scotia for 16 years.

Carla has an extensive image library and nurtures a network of horticulture in the region. She was the first president of the Yarmouth Garden Club.

February 23, 2003

More than 550 delegates attended HORT EAST ‘03, held at the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax, between Jan.21-23. This was the tenth anniversary for the biannual event and organizers, once again, demonstrated their expertise at producing a top notch show.

Numbers were down slightly from HORT EAST ‘01, however committee members Nigel Bayliss and Karen Richards were very pleased with the turnout. “We certainly felt the effects of the weather,” said Richards. “Landscapers were all out plowing.”

HORT EAST is a show specifically designed for professionals in the horticultural trade, including wholesale growers, garden center operators, landscape designers/installers and others. Snow plowing is a lucrative, seasonally compatible business for those in landscaping and there was plenty to push during the span of the show. A bad accident on the #102 delayed some delegates from attending and there were numerous descriptions of other accidents.

Those who made it safely however enjoyed a terrific program, with many of the rooms packed to capacity. “We had a really strong speaker program,” said Richards. Three presentations run simultaneously during most of the event - a conundrum that usually results in business owners bringing extra staff in order to take advantage of the information presented. As one delegate expressed, “HORT EAST is the one show where I always include as many staff as possible so they too can benefit from the vast knowledge of high caliber speakers.”

My favorites included Wilf Nichols who spoke on “New and Underused ornamentals from Atlantic Canada. Nichols is the director of MUN Botanical Gardens in Newfoundland and introduced the audience to an exciting new marketing concept that he and his associates will be promoting, ‘New Found Plants Inc.’ “There is no Eastern Canadian hardy plant development program,” said Nichols. Newfoundland has doubled ornamental sales and services in the past 7 years and now ornamental sales represent 55% of all agricultural sales in that province. It is indeed a growth area.

Dr. Linda Gilkeson presented Integrated Pest Management and undoubtedly inspired many with her frank and funny pointers on how best to deal with customers who approach them, “not knowing what’s wrong, just wanting a pesticide.” She said “3/4 of plant material that comes in for diagnosis are not pest problems, but environmental.” She also stressed the simple value of a strong blast of water for controlling aphids. “One good reason why water works so well on aphids is because they have thread-like mouthparts which are damaged when they are blown off. I recommend 2 sprays a week as live babies are born.”

Karl Stensson, manager of seven Sheridan garden centres in Ontario spoke on Trends in Garden Centres, delivering a host of helpful information to operators. If only half of his suggestions are adopted by local garden centres, gardeners are in for an even more enjoyable shopping experience.

Judging from the reaction of the audience, Judy Sharpton ranked high on the list of favorites. This marketing consultant expressed her viewpoint in a brutally honest manner, but managed to soften the delivery with her fast talking, Georgian drawl and hilarious actions.

From my travels through the trade show, it appeared those who had products that delegates were interested in were quite happy with the show. Other suppliers, offering items that unfortunately aren’t as popular this year, watched the crowd pass by.

Considerations for Hort East ‘05 will begin in March. “We review the evaluations and the costing,” said Richards. “Then in September we start planning.”


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