This weekend, nearly 350 garden writers are descending on Buffalo to tour public and private gardens, flower farms, sustainable landscaping sites, and more.
The visitors are members of the GWA | The Association of Garden Communicators (GWA), which is holding its sixty-ninth annual conference and expo in Buffalo. The conference will fill the Hyatt, Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, area restaurants, and tourism sites with enthusiastic garden talk.
The attendees are book authors; garden speakers; newspaper columnists; TV personalities; magazine publishers, editors, and writers; garden photographers; bloggers; podcasters; gardening topic speakers; horticulture professionals; and many more.
The Conference holds more than thirty classes on horticulture and writing/social media professional skills, there is a plant and garden new-products trade show, daily garden and cultural tours, roundtable discussions, panel discussions, meetings, keynote speakers, and an awards ceremony dinner.
Getting Out and About and into Gardens
Unlike other conferences where attendees spend long, air-conditioned days indoors at seminars, the GWA does some garden touring. At least six full motor coaches will be traveling around Buffalo, Boston, Hamburg, and Orchard Park, with options for Ontario. In addition to the private gardens in the Cottage District, Elmwood Village and Delaware District, GWA members will be treated to tours of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House, Delaware Park’s Japanese and Rose Gardens, Draves Arboretum, and the Buffalo Botanical Gardens.
Tour guides include local gardening experts, such as Sally Cunningham, Jim Charlier, Mike and Kathy Shadrack, Elizabeth Licata, Sharon Weber, Nellie Gardner, David Clark, Craig Coyne, Gordon Ballard, Connie Stofko, and many others. Dozens of other volunteers are helping with other events while the GWA is in town. And Visit Buffalo Niagara has done a Herculean effort in co-hosting, including creating press kits, engaging the local media, and even hosting breakfasts for the gardeners in gardens on their tour.
One Free Event Open to the Public
The GWA board added a first-time event designed to connect the writers and their books with gardeners and readers from our region. “Meet the (Garden) Authors”, this Friday August 4, 2-4 p.m. at the Convention Center, features GWA authors with their books (both old and new). The event is FREE, no RSVP required.
There has never been as large a gathering of garden book authors in one place before for a public event. You’ll meet, talk, and ask questions of the authors, buy books, and have your books signed. Authors include Allan Armitage, Kylee Baumle, Susan Betz, Jan Bills, Karen Bussolini, Joan Calder, Kate Copsey, Sally Cunningham, Katie Elzer-Peters, C.L. Fornari, Rhonda Fleming Hayes, Bill Johnson, Mary-Kate Mackey, Carol J. Michel, Thomas Mickey, Denise Schreiber, Kathleen Guest Shadrack, Michael Shadrack, Jessica Walliser, Teresa Watkins, Marianne Willburn, Barbara Wise, Ellen Zachos, and Maria Zampini.
We know that having visitors tour our creative and beautiful gardens has a lasting impact on how Buffalo is perceived. The tens of thousands of visitors to Garden Walk Buffalo, over 23 years, certainly can attest to that. Making an impression on garden media “influencers” only piles on. The tourism industry gets a conference with vast outreach potential, in addition to filling hotels and restaurants in the short term with a more than $1 million economic impact.
Thanks must go out to Brent & Becky’s Bulbs, ColorChoice Flowering Bulbs, and Proven Winners for providing some of the exhibiting gardens with plants. And a big thank you to Smart Pots, Crescent Garden, and the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association for providing large planters and plants for public sites where the GWA will convene.
Thanks, most of all, to the gardeners and other cultural organizations opening their gardens this weekend for the GWA. We all owe them a debt of gratitude for making Buffalo more beautiful – and then sharing it with the world.
You can find out more about the conference here: gardenwriters.org/Annual-Conference-Expo-2017