I’m from Cleveland, OH, a short two-hour drive to Columbus. I’ve been to our state capital numerous times throughout my life, but since I only started at Greenhouse Grower earlier this year, I never knew about Cultivate. I had no idea that 10,000 people descended on the Greater Columbus Convention Center every July to see the latest and greatest that the green industry has to offer. From my perspective, there were a lot of interesting things to see.
It was overwhelming, to be honest. I felt a sort of sensory overload while walking the trade show. Every time I looked at something to the right, I missed everything else to the left and in front of me. There were signs and noises everywhere. The trade show was crowded with plants, machines, and people. But every single booth and attendee has something new to share. Here are a few highlights from the show.
Varieties Bring the “Wow” Factor
Every variety at the show was beautiful and unique in its own way, but four of them stood out to me. While visiting Little Prince of Oregon Nursery’s booth, Mark Leichty showed me Begonia ferox. I had never seen a plant with spikes on it that wasn’t a succulent. Its atypical appearance would add interest to any garden. In my opinion, it also looked like it would fit in well with fall or Halloween decorations. It looks spooky and it would be the perfect conversation-starter at a party.
I was not expecting to taste-test any plants while I walked around the trade show. While visiting the Monrovia booth, I was invited to try a leaf from Drymis lanceolata, known as Mountain Pepper. I was told that it would taste like pepper, and it did. The flavor was intense, so using this variety in cooking would go a long way. I ate the entire leaf at once, and immediately regretted trying the pepper-flavored leaf while trying to interview the marketing representatives. I politely declined the water they offered, but it would have been helpful in the moment!
Sakata’s Celosia Flamma Series has captured my attention since I first saw it at the Costa Farms Trial Garden in March. Every color in the series is vibrant and does not fade over time. I had trouble choosing which color to feature in my photos, but I landed on a fiery orange.
When I visit my local garden center, it’s likely that more than half of the flowers I buy will be pink. That lifelong habit led me to Garvinea ‘Sweet Sparkle’ from HilverdaFlorist. The color is stunning and it truly looks like it sparkles. I took plenty of “glamour shots” at Cultivate, but the photo in the slideshow above is my favorite.
On the last day of Cultivate, I was on my way to an education session when I saw Ball Seed’s cut flower workshop in the hallway. There was a sunflower that I had to pick up. Naturally, I meandered over there and arrived at my session late. I was happy to see that every flower was labeled so I could learn about the varieties. I was intrigued by the texture of Sakata’s Celosia ‘Chief,’ so I added that to my bouquet. The bouquet certainly doesn’t look professional, but I am happy with the varieties I selected.
Growers Exchange Tips on Greenhouse Tour
I highly recommend the greenhouse production tour for growers at Cultivate. I spent a day visiting Foertmeyer & Sons Greenhouse Co., Thorsen’s Greenhouse, Cuthbert Greenhouse, and Green Legacy. I figured that the growers attending the tour would have similar equipment and best practices as the growers we visited. But that was not the case — everyone seemed to do things a little bit differently.
There were commonalities for irrigation systems and integrated pest management (IPM) programs, for example, but the growers in the tour group had many questions for their counterparts. At Thorsen’s Greenhouse, growers on the tour were astonished that Thorsen’s has not had any trouble with algae growing in their pipes. When this question came up, growers began discussing their challenges and solutions. It was great to see this exchange of information. Click here to learn more about the greenhouse production tour.
Social Gatherings Cultivate Relationships
The AmericanHort team puts in endless hours to make this show a success. There are so many different parts that came together seamlessly for a fantastic event. I expected the show to be great, but I did not expect the socializing aspect once we left the convention center.
If you weren’t at a dinner, reception, or bar in the evening, you were in the wrong place. High Street was the place to be. I learned that the camaraderie in our industry is strong. There were many growers and suppliers networking and having a good time every night. We work hard and play hard.
These relationships are forged for business purposes, but turn into friendships. I walked around with my coworkers who have worked at Meister Media for 20 years, and someone stops them to say hello every few minutes. Leverage these relationships with your peers; they can do nothing but make your business better.
Medal of Excellence Honors Industry Leaders
Lastly, it was my pleasure to participate in Greenhouse Grower’s Medal of Excellence reception at Cultivate. We had a room full of more than 300 industry experts. It is exciting to see them win awards for their achievements, but it is even better to see them cheer on their competitors when they win. The decisions this year were tough; there is so much talent in our industry. If you did not join us for the Medal of Excellence this time, we look forward to seeing you next year!