Finally time to myself … and 450 of my closest friends!
Two weeks ago was my one “me” vacation of the year. Over four days, I was surrounded by beautiful gardens, stimulating presentations and 450 of my closest friends. It was the annual Garden Writers Association symposium in Indianapolis, Indiana.
I attended my first such event six years ago and still consider it one of the most amazing and memorable experiences of my life. I knew right then, as long as I was able, I’d never miss one of these meetings. Why such enthusiasm from someone who spends most of his year touring gardens, writing about them, and attending lectures? Because of the people.
A typical symposium goes something like this…
You arrive early afternoon of the opening day and spend an hour or two in the lobby before check-in because you’re running into all your buds you haven’t seen for a year but talk to on Facebook and Twitter all the time.
Next you run up to your room, throw your stuff on the bed, and head down to the trade show floor to see more of your buds and all the great vendors showing off all their new wares. And because many of them are either gardeners or long-time members, or both, they’re your buds too—just like Katie and Mary from Burpee Home Gardens. It’s always fun to see what they’re rolling out for the New Year. This year, it’s the new BOOST line of vegetable plants that are bred for higher nutritional values and antioxidants. And they’ll be in garden centers this coming spring. How cool is that?
Later that night, it’s dinner with friends, but oh… which friends. With so little time, it’s hard trying to catch up with everyone. So whatever group you head out with, everyone ends up in the same place after dinner, and you know where that is. But I remind myself not to make it too late a night because the next day starts early!
The alarm goes off. It’s 6:00 a.m. Yes, it’s my vacation but I’m up and seated for the breakfast presentation less than an hour later. Next, it’s a dash to the main floor for the keynote address, then another half-day of symposiums. The hardest part is deciding which ones to attend since many are sharing the same time slot. I hate when that happens!
From there, we hop on a bus for a quick box lunch en route to the first of several gardens we’ll see that day. But it’s always the same, too many gardens, not enough time. So I snap lots of pictures and take notes. While on the bus between gardens, I often try to sit next to someone I don’t know. I’ve made some of the most amazing connections this way, including my first book deal.
So that’s pretty much how things go. But the final night is always the highlight. It’s the formal dinner and awards banquet and the perfect culmination of a fabulous few days. But this one was even more special. Growing a Greener World took top honors for writing by our Co-Executive Producer, Theresa Loe, and we took the gold award for Best Digital Product, which includes television. It was an amazing event and a great honor to be recognized by our peers for all our hard work.
And although we weren’t given the opportunity to make an acceptance speech, on behalf of our entire Growing a Greener World Team and the thousands of fans around the world, thank you Burpee Home Gardens for the very significant role you’ve played in making our series not only possible, but also for the amazing success we’ve had in such a short time. You’re an awesome company made up of some pretty incredible people—and that’s certainly no surprise at all!