International Garden Tourism Conference? I am SO there.

I’m excited to attend the 2015 North American Garden Tourism Conference in Toronto on Monday and Tuesday. I’ve been invited to speak on a panel on Monday on Garden Tourism Awards – How They Have Made a Difference.

Conference organizer Michel Gauthier in MY garden
during Garden Walk Buffalo in 2013.

It’s a bit of a self-serving topic for the conference – they being the only ones that give out garden tourism awards. It’s a panel, so no one will have to go too in-depth on the topic – probably just strategies on how to leverage awards into marketing and fundraising.

I’ll certainly learn from the other panel participants:  moderator Abby Spencer, Director of Marketing American Public Gardens Association, USA;  Kathy Gibler, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Canada; Darren Heimbecker, Whistling Gardens Botanical Garden, Canada; Dr. Heike Platter, Director Marketing & Corporate Strategy The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle, Italy; and Beth Monroe, Director of Public Relations and Marketing Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, USA.

Me and Italy’s Dr. Heike Platter, in Italy.

The only panelist I’ve met before is Italy’s Dr. Heike Platter. I met her in 2013 during this conference, and I visited Trauttmansdorff Castle in Northern Italy in 2014. When you’re married to a flight attendant, and someone from another country says you must visit, few believe know there’s a very likely chance I’ll show up! You can see/read my posts of the The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle:

I’m looking forward to seeing some familiar faces – Conference organizer Michel Gauthier, Keynote speaker Richard Benfield, Heike, Lorraine Flanigan, and Veronica Sliva, among others.

Sally Cunningham, then director of the National Garden Festival
(beautiful in blue); Ed Healy, VP of Marketing for
Visit Buffalo Niagara (in the nice tie, above); and myself
(with all the gray, above) accepted the award
on behalf of the Festival’s organizers and volunteers.

I’m also looking forward to meeting the director of the Director of Operations of the Vallarta Botanical Garden in Mexico, Jesus Reyes – since we’ll be going to Puerto Vallarta next month! One more international garden to visit!

In 2013, The National Garden Festival (which I co-founded) and Garden Walk Buffalo (of which I was president for seven years) won the Conference’s “Promotion of the Year Award.” Last year it went to the National Garden Scheme, United Kingdom. In 2012, it went to Downtown Gardens, Centre Eaton Montréal, Montreal, QC.

But mostly, I’m looking forward to some of the seminars offered:

  • KEYNOTE: How Gardens are Making a Difference in the World of Tourism
    Dr. Richard Benfield, Professor of Geography, Connecticut State University; author of Garden Tourism; Chair, International Garden Tourism Network, USA 
  • How Longwood Gardens is Making a Tourism Difference
    Paul Redman, Executive Director, Longwood Gardens, USA
  • Heritage Gardens – Making a Tourism Difference (panel)
    Marie Lalonde, Executive Director, Ontario Museum Association. Canada
    Trish Fry, Manager, Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens. Canada
    Kris Dimnik, Period Gardener, Bellevue House National Historic Site. Canada
  • Making a Garden Tourism Difference in Japan
    Takano Fumiaki, Hokkaido Garden Show Daisetsu 2015, Japa
    Keynote Speaker Richard Benfield
    at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo for a talk
    on garden tourism. He’s being laughed at by
    Visit Buffalo Niagara‘s (our tourism bureau’s)
    Karen Fashana.
  • KEYNOTE: Toronto Botanical Garden – Making Plans to Make a Difference
    Harry Jongerden, Executive Director, Toronto Botanical Garden. Canada
  • Making a Difference by Understanding What Makes People Visit Gardens
    Dr. Dorothy Fox, Lecturer Events Management, Bournemouth University, UK
  • British Columbia’s New Garden Tourism Development Strategy
    Dave Cowen, General Manager, The Butchart Gardens and Chair BC Garden Tourism Society, Canada
  • KEYNOTE: Making a Difference with the Disney Garden Experience
    Katy Moss‐Warner, President Emeritus, American Horticultural Society; Vice President, American in Bloom Board of Directors and Past Director Disney Horticulture and Environmental Initiatives, US
  • How to Get Gardeners Excited About Visiting Gardens – From a Publishing Perspective
    Lorraine Flanigan, Garden Tourism Journalist of the Year (2014), Canada
    Michael Fox, Publisher, Garden Making Magazine, Canada
  • Vallarta Botanical Garden – Making a Tourism Difference in Puerto Vallarta
    Jesús Reyes, Director of Operations, Vallarta Botanical Garden, Mexico
  • How Garden Tourism is Making a Difference in Australia & New Zealand
    Janelle Hatherly, Education & Interpretation Specialist; Managing Editor THE BOTANIC GARDENer, Botanic Gardens of Australia and New Zealand, Australia
  • Developing Garden Tour Packages – What Tourists are Looking For
    Andrée Boisvert, Commercial Director, Misa Tours International, Canada
    Paul Nursey, President & CEO, Tourism Victoria,  Canada
  • KEYNOTE: Making Your Garden Relevant to the Tourism Industry
    Pascal Garbe, Gardens without Limits Conference, France 

For the complete conference agenda, visit here. To see the list of presenters and their bios, visit here.

These topics are right up my alley. Garden Walk Buffalo Niagara is sponsoring my trip and conference fees (thank you!). and hopefully I’ll come back with plenty of ideas on how to make garden “experiences” in the Buffalo Niagara region world class.

I have a long-time garden blog, a popular garden on America's largest garden tour, and have co-written a book on garden design titled, "Buffalo-Style Gardens: Create a Quirky, One-of-a-Kind Private Garden with Eye-Catching Designs" When I'm not doing all that, I am an advertising designer always out looking to design things to promote your business. Look me up at #jcharlier.

0 comments on “International Garden Tourism Conference? I am SO there.

  1. You got hit with the lucky stick when you married that girl…


  2. She could say the same…


  3. Jim, you are certainly a nice guy, but free airfare is a bennie not to be trifled with.


  4. Have a great conference! Saw several of the folks on Saturday – wonderful week to be involved in the world of gardening. Looking forward to visiting this year's walk – so enjoyed it last year.


  5. Would never trifle with a benefit. Nor tick off my wife.


  6. The conference was great. I am so full of ideas and enthusiasm. Hopefuly we'll catch you on this year's Walk!


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