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Optimism abounds for landscaping season


February 4, 2013
By Canadian Garden Centre & Nursery

Feb. 4, 2013, Toronto — Strong crowds over three days of the 40th annual Congress International Lawn and Garden Trade Show and Conference indicate good things to come this spring and summer, according to Landscape Ontario.

There was a buzz of excitement at this year’s milestone show for the province’s green industry trade association, which put the spotlight on more than 600 vendors spread over eight acres at the Toronto Congress Centre.

Close to 13,000  lawn, garden and landscape industry professionals from around the world made their way across a show floor featuring the latest and greatest in heavy machinery, landscaping implements, nursery products and innovative services that help contractors and public green space managers find the tools and resources necessary for the construction, design and maintenance of Ontario’s landscapes.

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“I am sensing a lot of optimism out there,” said Beth Edney, chair of the Congress 2013 show committee and owner of Designs by the Yard. “Our industry is looking forward to a good, strong year.”

Judging by the exhibitors at Congress 2013, the good, strong year predicted by Edney will have a solid foundation in a good, strong product: stone and concrete.

Stone features have long been a staple in landscaping, but advances in pre-cast designs and an ongoing movement toward sustainability in design is putting a renewed emphasis on stone and concrete this summer. Whether looking at paver stones for walkways and patios, brick or precast concrete retaining walls, stone fences or decorative garden features, stone and concrete products were prominent at Congress.

“Stone is a feature I have always used in my landscape designs, both for its look and its long-lasting appeal,” says Edney. “We are seeing great strides in pre-cast stone products that look just like the real thing. At Congress, the stone and concrete companies have put a lot of effort into their booths and have presented some stunning displays.”

Advances in technology and manufacturing are producing stone products that have a natural look and feel with a range of looks to suit almost any style preference and use. The advances have allowed stone products to be used in more creative ways in landscape design.

“It is important to have a well balanced landscape design that incorporates various aspects,” said Marcus Poirier, the southwestern Ontario regional sales manager for Permacon. “You need a flat space where you can lay out your patio furniture, but you also need to incorporate some green space, some wood elements, maybe a water feature. Adding a variety of different elements will achieve that balance and create a sense of comfort. That is increasingly important as designers and contractors include hardscaping into their designs for outdoor living spaces.”

Stone and concrete features are key pieces of sustainable landscape design, ensuring durability through every season and all kinds of weather. The sustainability factor is an important factor is modern landscape design, with more and more products and businesses offering environmentally-friendly and long-lasting products.

Several companies are getting into using recycled rubber and tires to make synthetic mulch and other types of ground cover. Bosman Home Front, based in Palmerston, Ont., uses recycled plastic beverage jugs to build traditional-looking and durable patio furniture.

“It is important when designing and building an outdoor living area that it be built to last,” said Phil Martin, a design consultant at Bosman. “The pieces chosen to be put outdoors are obviously exposed to the elements, so they need to be able to withstand the sun, wind, rain, snow and whatever else Mother Nature can throw at them. That is something we take very seriously. It’s why we say our products are built for life.”

One of the most anticipated features of every Congress is the New Product Showcase, and this year was no exception. From heavy machinery to unique design elements to an electric car, there was particular excitement about this year’s showcase.

“There was a lot of activity at the New Product Showcase this year, which builds a lot of anticipation for the coming year,” said Heather MacRae, Congress 2013 show manager. She noted that a lot of the buzz this year was for a specialized gas can from Fuel Transfer Technologies. The G-Can features a nozzle like you would find at a gas pump, giving more control to the user. “People wanted this gas can now. It’s amazing what will pique the interest.”

Sheridan Nurseries of Georgetown, Ont., celebrated its 100th year in business, as well as Landscape Ontario’s 40th anniversary, by introducing Congress’ newest feature, entitled 40 Shades of Green.
 
“An increasingly popular trend is to include tropical plants in summer container designs,” commented Brenda Luckhardt, marketing manager for Sheridan. “A red leaf banana, or a brightly striped Cordyline, can add height and drama to a container. A Neon Pothos or a Brazil philodendron cascading out of the container can add contrast and line to a design. An 'Escargot' begonia or Echeveria will add texture to create interest. Tropical plants are well suited for summer containers and grow vigorously over the season when water and fertilizer are regularly provided.”
 
Plants from the 40 Shades of Green palette will be available through landscape contractors and garden centres in the spring of 2013. The range includes:

  • Chamaedorea erumpens
  • Ficus pendulata ‘Lyrata’
  • Schefflera arboricola
  • Dracaena reflexa ‘Song of India’
  • Euphorbia tirucalli
  • Schefflera arboricola ‘Trinette’
  • Ficus elastica ‘Burgundy’
  • Codiaeum ‘Petra’
  • Yucca elephantipes
  • Yucca elephantipes ‘Jewel’
  • Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’
  • Sansevieria trifasciata
  • Sansevieria hahnii
  • Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Black Robusta’
  • Aloe variegata
  • Chlorophytum comosum ‘Vittatum’
  • Podocarpus macrophyllus
  • Nephrolepis exultata ‘Bostoniensis’
  • Zebrina pendula ‘Purpusii’
  • Cycas revoluta
  • Howea belmoreana
  • Araucaria heterophylla
  • Aralia japonica
  • Dracaena ‘Dorado’
  • Aglaonema ‘Silver Queen’
  • Aglaonema ‘Sterling’
  • Dizygotheca elegantissima
  • Dieffenbachia ‘Camille’
  • Anthurium andreanum
  • Aglaonema commutatum ‘Silver Spear’
  • Ardisia crenata
  • Beaucarnea recurvata
  • Dieffenbachia picta ‘Camilla’
  • Dracaena marginata ‘Tricolor’
  • Philodendron ‘Burgundy’
  • Peperomia caperata ‘Variegata’
  • Radermachera sinica
  • Spathiphyllum wallisii
  • Epipremnum aureum
  • Zamioculcas zamiifolia

For more information about Congress 2013, or to learn more about next year’s event, visit www.locongress.com.


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