Education, outdoor space, ice important in hosting 2016 CanWest Horticulture Expo

Karen DeJong, show producer for the 2016 CanWest Horticulture Expo, perhaps better known as Western Canada's premiere horticulture trade show on now at Tradex, has a simple reply to how they irrigate their amazing volume of plants: "Ice, ice baby!"

After a 33-year run at the Vancouver Convention Centre, the industry-focused show brought to its patrons by the British Columbia Landscape and Nursery Association (BCLNA), is housed at Tradex for a second year.

Among the benefits of moving to Tradex, said DeJong, is that it has "allowed us to expand outside and incorporate an Equipment Demo Zone where landscapers and nursery growers can try out machines (excavators, skid steers, etc.)."

The show connects buyers and sellers throughout Canada and the Pacific Northwest.

Exclusive to green industry professionals, this two-day event typically begins a day earlier with a landscape design symposium zeroing in on issues like sustainable landscaping, colour theory, appropriate-sized flower gardens for time-pressed and aging clients, and traffic-stopping curb
appeal.

DeJong said education is a big part of the show and it's a big draw. "Nearly 1,000 seats are sold in our various seminar offerings. I wish I could sit in on all of them. The hands-on sessions, like the stone wall building are a hot favourite," she said.

What is the most difficult thing to do when putting on a show like this? DeJong is quick to respond: "Managing 'move-in day' as we are working with several suppliers and contractors, all who need answers to questions . . . seemingly all at the same time. It's a hectic day, but fun."

What does DeJong enjoy most about the horticulture expo? "How quickly the show comes together with the help of a phenomenal team. And then seeing the high level of engagement between the buyers and sellers on show days," she said.

The education programs offered at the show are geared toward those who already come with advanced skill and knowledge through their education and experience in the horticulture trades, but always looking to the future, DeJong said "we hope to help our participants improve upon their skill or professional and business development through our course offerings."

Even though the show quietly slips into Abbotsford with all its economic benefits, it demonstrates how important Tradex is to shows with special requirements.

The public may spot some show patrons during the Fraser Valley Landscape Tour, which takes place the day after the formal event. At this time, participants can explore large estates to quaint country spaces in the Valley, making notes on how extensive use of garden techniques provide these properties with functional, unique outdoor living room, entertaining spaces, and personal retreats.

Recognizing Tradex is celebrating a milestone this year, DeJong offered: "Congratulations on 25 years."

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