|Random shot of my garden, not sure where I’ll add my free plant!|
Garden Walk Buffalo (GW) has grown from a small block club garden tour with 28 gardens, 18 years ago, to be the largest garden tour in the U.S. with 384 gardens and is a genuine tourism event attracting 60,000-plus visitors, 20% of which come from outside of Erie and Niagara counties (including Canada). It’s proven to have a direct economic impact of around $3.4 million to the local economy.
|Oso Happy (TM) Petit Pink Rosa|
And the tour is all free, thanks to donations from visitors and fans, the work of dozens of volunteers, and generous corporate sponsorships from local companies.
This year, for the first time, we have a national sponsor in Proven Winners ColorChoice Flowering Shrubs. Not only are they sponsoring us at our highest $$ level, but they’ve also sent pallets of shrubs to Buffalo so that every Garden Walk gardener gets a free shrub to add to their garden.
|Sugar Tip® Rose of Sharon|
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We have what we call a “Rally” party for the gardeners of the Walk where they come to pick up their free maps, posters, yard signs, have a first chance to purchase this year’s t-shirt and any other new or old GW branded merchandise. We serve wine and hors d’oeuvres and dessert-y things made by a GW gardener that is an up-and-coming caterer. It’s held in a church lawn, beside their own garden, and about 150-175 people show up each year.
This year, Proven Winners ColorChoice Flowering Shrubs (I have to practice getting their name right!) provided a certificate for either a free Oso Happy (TM) Petit Pink (Rosa) OR a free Sugar Tip® Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus).
Think about that. By the time you visit Garden Walk Buffalo in late July, or make a trip here in future years, nearly every garden will have a Proven Winners ColorChoice Flowering Shrub in it. What a great claim for us – and for Proven Winners – with plants in nearly every garden in America’s largest garden tour!
They’ll also be sending two representatives out here for the Walk with give-aways and recording interviews with gardeners and visitors for their social media outlets. THIS is how a company ingratiates itself into a market – not only endearing themselves with products – but genuinely wanting to participate and share our mission. See what their press release says, here. Get a free issue of Gardening Simplified magazine here. Like their Facebook page here (they do lots of giveaways!)
Buffalo Spree magazine also stepped up. When I met with the publisher and editor last year, among the many perks and benefits they offered in return for media sponsorship was a free one-year subscription to any gardener on Garden Walk that didn’t already have a subscription! Many of you know Buffalo Spree editor, Elizabeth, of GardenRant.com and GardeningWhileIntoxicated.com, and she’s already a garden push-over and knows the Walk from having been on the committee and helping out for years. The publisher had gone on GW for the first time last year – planning to go out for a half hour or so – and spending all afternoon visiting gardens and talking to gardeners. It was him who came to Elizabeth wanting to be a sponsor, not because Buffalo Spree will get much from sponsoring the event, but because he genuinely wants GW to be a success because it shows off Buffalo at its best – something Buffalo Spree shares in its mission.
Other sponsors like Mike Weber’s Greenhouses, Quest Diagnostics and BlueCross BlueShled of WNY gave us great gifts to raffle off to the gardeners – from goodie bags to certificates to a baskets of perennials and herbs.
It means so much to me to be able to give back to the gardeners of GW. They spend so much time working on prepping their gardens for the Walk, spending God-only-knows-how-much on their gardens each year – trust me, the economic “impact” is only seen by the restaurants, hotels and shops in the area – not the gardeners. To be able to give items, even small ones, to the gardeners gives me the warm fuzzies. And I know the gardeners appreciate it.
I’m an advertising art director, having spent my formative years in advertising agencies large and small, so I’m a bit jaded and skeptical of advertising, having seen how the sausage is made. On my little blog here, I don’t have any paid advertising. I don’t even do Google Ads, nor have sponsorships. I also don’t review products, books or plants.
But I am now a corporate shill for Proven Winners, Buffalo Spree and other GW sponsors. Gladly.